WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation announced the recipients of its 22nd Annual Citizens Awards – eight purpose-driven companies that have demonstrated steadfast leadership in creating opportunity and building more resilient communities as America continues its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. From creating the world’s largest STEM program, to meeting critical sustainability targets, to donating life-changing supplies to vulnerable populations around the world, this year’s winners showcase how the private sector is accelerating momentum for a more equitable and sustainable future.
“Despite ongoing hardships over the last year and a half, the mission of the private sector remains clear – to bring its innovation and strategic thinking to challenges affecting our nation and the world,” said Marc DeCourcey, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “The business community has shown remarkable leadership that will continue to move us forward, and I’m proud to recognize this year’s Citizens Awards winners for their outstanding work.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation presented the Citizens Awards to the following eight recipients:
- Best Corporate Steward – Large Business: Aflac Inc.
From contributing more than $155 million to support pediatric cancer to implementing sustainable practices and prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace, Aflac is driving positive change in communities and remains committed to the mantra that doing good is good business. Aflac’s culture of compassion guided the company through the tumultuous year of 2020 and sparked innovation that furthered the company’s impact in the areas of philanthropy, DE&I, and sustainability.
- Best Corporate Steward – Small- and Middle-Market Business: Blackbaud
A 40-year-old company founded on a shared-value concept of helping nonprofits leverage technology, Blackbaud has grown to serve the broader ecosystem of social good organizations and enabled customers to raise, grant, and invest more than $100 billion each year. Ninety-two percent of Blackbaud’s employees volunteer, serving a combined 100,000 hours annually and demonstrating their commitment to community service.
- Best Community Improvement Program: Liberty Mutual Insurance
Liberty Mutual invests its financial strength and employee expertise in helping youth and young adult (YYA) homelessness become rare, brief, and non-recurring. The company has helped 674 young people exit to stable housing and 152 young people find transitional housing between 2018 and 2020. Since 2018, Liberty Mutual has committed $13.9 million to YYA homelessness efforts in Boston.
- Best Disaster Response and Community Resilience Program: General Motors
As the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, GM recognized its unique supply chain relationships and harnessed its ability to quickly scale manufacturing. The company partnered with Ventec Life Systems to build more than 30,000 ventilators at its manufacturing facility; additionally, more than 5,000 employees volunteered to make and distribute more than 7 million masks across the country.
- Best Economic Opportunity and Empowerment Program: Entergy Corp.
Ensuring that struggling customers receive bill payment assistance from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a long-standing component of Entergy’s poverty-relief efforts that gained momentum during the pandemic. Entergy helped more than 250,000 bills get paid with $65.4 million in assistance, exceeding the goal by almost $20 million and increasing bill payments by 26 percent over 2019.
- Best Commitment to Education Program: Mastercard
Mastercard’s Girls4Tech program leverages the company’s expertise in payment technologies and cybersecurity to inspire girls around the world to become the tech leaders of tomorrow. Since its launch in 2014, Girls4Tech has become the world’s largest STEM program for girls, spanning 44 countries. More than 6,000 Mastercard mentors have shown 1.6 million girls how their skills and strengths can lead them toward a variety of careers in STEM.
- Best Health and Wellness Program: Bayer U.S. LLC
Bayer was the first pharmaceutical company to successfully implement Kits4Life for its U.S. clinical trial sites, a first-of-its kind program to enable donations of unused clinical trial supplies for humanitarian aid. This collaboration is strengthening healthcare delivery efforts by expanding distribution of supplies to under-resourced settings, as well as closing the healthcare gap worldwide, impacting thousands of lives. As a result of Bayer’s and other sponsor efforts, more than 14,000 people around the world have benefitted from receiving these supplies.
- Best Sustainability Program: Biogen Inc.
Biogen’s Healthy Climate, Healthy LivesTM is a $250 million, 20-year commitment to eliminate fossil fuel dependence, engage employees and suppliers around shared climate goals, and advance the science and action on climate, health, and equity. Biogen is collaborating with leading institutions, such as Harvard, MIT, and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, to help address the impact of the climate crisis on the health of vulnerable communities and create a more sustainable, equitable future.
This year’s awards program also featured the Corporate Citizenship Hall of Fame, honoring past winners for their sustained social and environmental impact, and significant efforts in advancing the field of corporate social responsibility. Abbott was inducted into the 2021 Hall of Fame for its extraordinary contributions to the betterment of society.
Additionally, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation named BET the recipient of the “Special Recognition for World Changing Ideas,” for its Content for Change initiative, which supports the creation, distribution, marketing, and promotion of stories and programs that help eliminate systemic racism and inequality in America. Jeanine Liburd, chief social impact and communications officer at BET, accepted the award on behalf of the company.
“Now more than ever, we know that the business community’s role as problem solver is so critically important to our success as a nation,” said Carolyn Cawley, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “We applaud each of these companies for harnessing their brilliant teams to create solutions that address our world’s most pressing challenges. The work celebrated today serves our communities and creates opportunities that enable everyone to succeed.”
The 22nd Annual Citizens Awards took place virtually in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s 2021 Corporate Citizenship Conference. More information on this year’s winners is available on the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s website. You can watch the award program and the acceptance speeches at this link.