Corporate Giving Success Story: Terracon

Terracon, a consulting engineering firm headquartered in Olathe, Kansas, has worked to make giving back part of the everyday company culture. In 2007, the Terracon Foundation was established as a corporate donor-advised fund at Greater Horizons, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation’s national entity, and has evolved into an expansive corporate giving initiative. In just over a decade, the Terracon Foundation has awarded more than $1.8 million in grants and scholarships.

The Terracon Foundation provided a University Grant to the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Champaign, Ill. for Terracon Foundation Fellowships.

In 2012, the Terracon Foundation completed its first grantmaking cycle. More than 30 grants are awarded each year to nonprofit organizations in three different categories focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiatives.

The first grant category, the Community grant, awards up to $5,000 to nonprofits local to Terracon offices across the country. The second grant category, the University grant, supports the alma maters of Terracon employees and the universities where employees live and work. The University grant awards up to $15,000 to support scholarships, fellowships, and programs in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The third grant category is the National Partner grant, which awards up to $50,000 to larger nonprofits. Typically, grants are awarded to nonprofits in which Terracon employees have a personal involvement. The Terracon Foundation also awards an annual scholarship to dependents of Terracon employees in their post-secondary education. The Terracon Foundation also provides funds for emergency and natural disaster relief.

The Terracon Foundation Board of Directors, comprised of nine Terracon employees from various office locations, reviews each grant application and is charged with the difficult task of deciding which organizations will receive grants. Matt Wheaton, Terracon employee in Seattle and Foundation Board Chair, has a deep understanding of every part of the grant cycle.

“I championed and received a Community grant in the very first round of grants in 2012 when I was teaching an after-school science class to fourth, fifth and sixth-graders at my son’s elementary school,” said Matt. “Ever since then, I’ve jumped at every opportunity to champion a grant. I’m a big believer in the Terracon Foundation. I was asked to join the board in 2014 and assumed the role of board chair in 2017. I have the firsthand experience of applying, securing the grants, and seeing them come to fruition.”

Catherine Rocky, Terracon employee in Wichita, championed a National Partner grant for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), a national professional organization with more than 35,000 members. 

“The Terracon Foundation noticed my involvement with SWE. I sat on the editorial board and wrote articles for the organization’s magazine,” said Catherine. “In 2015, the Society for Women Engineers received $50,000 from the Terracon Foundation’s National Partner grant to support a program for female engineering students. In 2017, SWE again received a National Partner grant from the Terracon Foundation to fund a marketing initiative highlighting a ‘Day in the Life of an Engineer’, spotlighting women engineers at Terracon.”

The Terracon Foundation provided a $25,000 National Partner Grant to The Girl Scouts of the USA for the development, pilot, and roll out of the Girl Scouts' Math in Nature Badge curriculum for girls in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Terracon continually works to elevate the culture of philanthropy and giving back among its employees.

“We have extremely hard-working people in our company who care about each other and their communities,” said Mike Hagemeister, Terracon Foundation board member and Terracon employee in Omaha. “I see local philanthropic activities all the time in offices throughout the country. Our people truly have a caring spirit. It’s a big part of why I’ve been with Terracon for more than 24 years.”

The Community Foundation and Greater Horizons helps organizations of all sizes establish corporate donor-advised funds to help fulfill each company’s philanthropic missions as easily and effectively as possible.

“We never could’ve done this without the continuous support provided by Greater Horizons,” said Kristi Tahmasiyan, Terracon Foundation Manager and Terracon Corporate Services employee in Olathe. “The Greater Horizons staff we work with is phenomenal. We did a lot of research when searching for a charitable partner. We realized we’re able to give back more to communities when we spend less on the administrative work. That’s why we chose Greater Horizons. It’s cost effective with top-notch service and support.”

If your organization would like to create or expand a corporate giving program, or establish a corporate foundation, visit the corporate services section of our website, contact LaVon Colhour by email or call 816.627.3400.

Community Foundation Content Specialist Ashley Hawkins

 

Authored by: Ashley Hawkins, Content Specialist