Georgia's Electric Cooperatives Receive Rare Education Award

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

The Georgia Retired Educators Association recently presented its coveted Education Contributor Award to Georgia's 41 electric membership cooperatives, signifying GREA's highest level of recognition for non-educators.

"The Award is presented in recognition of and in deep appreciation for all that the electric co-ops have done over decades, individually and collectively, to enhance public education in Georgia," said GREA Treasurer Dr. John Upchurch

The Award is reserved for individuals and organizations which make significant, sustained and specific contributions at the highest levels. It also is awarded sparingly, having been presented on just three occasions since GREA's founding 60 years ago: to Truett Cathy, Chick-fil-A and the Chick-fil-A Foundation for their immense scholarship program, to former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller and the Miller Institute Foundation in recognition of the HOPE Scholarship, and to Robin Ferst, founder of Ferst Readers, for distributing more than five million free, age-appropriate books to many of Georgia's youngest children. 

"This award is a big deal," said Upchurch. "The EMCs have earned our respect and appreciation."

During GREA's annual convention which attracted 500 attendees, Upchurch applauded Georgia's 41 EMCs for being exceptionally supportive of education for decades and donating significant sums over the years in addition to providing a wide range of in-kind donations and services, volunteer assistance, expertise, and advice on a broad range of issues important to schools, teachers, and students at all levels.  

Examples include college scholarships, school grants, contributions to numerous education efforts –from county literacy and summer reading programs to school sports, Science Olympiads, robotics programs, agricultural-education programs, STEM and STEAM initiatives, 4-H, FFA, teen leadership programs such as the annual Washington Youth Tour, and more. Support for county Boards of Education, Technical and Adult Education and Higher Education initiatives are frequent as well.

"The concern for community is one of seven guiding principles of electric cooperatives," said Georgia EMC President/CEO Dennis Chastain.

"Support of education is just one example of ways that EMCs address various needs in their communities. They want schools, teachers and students to have the necessary resources to be successful."

In addition to presenting a statewide plaque, GREA is providing each of the 41 EMCs a certificate of appreciation acknowledging each electric cooperative's enthusiastic support of education in Georgia.