INL employees donate time, money to wide variety of charitable, nonprofit causes

For more than 60 years, Idaho National Laboratory and its employees have shown themselves to be an invaluable source of support in their communities. Their commitment has been evident for all to see in the countless volunteer hours they have devoted to community-based organizations, especially the financial support they have provided to United Way agencies in eastern and central Idaho.

The 2017 INL United Way campaign was a huge success, bringing in more than $461,000 to support the three area United Way agencies and the nonprofit organizations they support, along with 33 additional write-in agencies.

The lab’s campaign leaders set a goal of $450,000 and beat it by over $11,000. Employees pledged $354,644 to United Way offices and agencies and raised an additional $35,000 through fundraising events and an online auction. INL employees also contributed nearly $17,000 in additional funds to the 33 other nonprofits as part of their write-in option in the campaign. Battelle Energy Alliance, which operates INL under a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy, contributed $55,000 in corporate funds, boosting the total to $461,204.

Since BEA took over operation of INL in 2005, employee contributions to the United Way have totaled over $4 million, and BEA has contributed more than $700,000 in corporate donations.

At the 2017 Holiday Reception on Dec. 5, INL Director Mark Peters presented the United Way of Idaho Falls and Bonneville County with a check for $337,952. The United Way of Southeastern Idaho, based in Pocatello, was slated for $103,858, while $2,858 was sent to the United Way of South Central Idaho, which supports Butte County.

INL/BEA representatives make check presentations to area United Way CEOs.

During the holiday season, BEA supported the annual Christmas for Families program. This year, employees “adopted” 63 families to provide gifts for 241 children from Arco, Mackay, Howe, Roberts, Pocatello, Rigby, Ririe, Menan, Idaho Falls, Blackfoot and Shelley. INL/BEA and the primary Idaho Cleanup Project contractor, Fluor Idaho, donated $2,500 apiece toward food boxes for each family. Employees at INL and Fluor Idaho also bought gifts for 250 children in the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program.

Education Programs

INL is always conscious that young people are the scientists and engineers of the future, people who will conduct cutting-edge research and develop innovative new technologies. To this end, BEA provides generous corporate funding to support education in eastern Idaho’s primary and secondary schools. In 2017, INL’s K-12 STEM Education Program office invested $300,000 in K-12 education initiatives, helping more than 85,000 students and 1,600 teachers.

These programs provided students with the opportunity to solve real-world problems, learn about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, and prepare for STEM-related jobs. INL sponsored several student outreach events, including middle school and high school STEM Days at INL and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES), career fairs, and family STEM nights in local schools. On the professional end, INL helped fund STEM opportunities for teachers across Idaho. These included corporate funding for teacher professional development, STEM classroom mini-grants and makeover grants, and student scholarships.

Technical Assistance Program

INL’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP) is a federally mandated program authorizing INL to share knowledge and specialized equipment to promote U.S. competitiveness. Through TAP, INL scientists and engineers can provide limited free assistance that is not commercially available in the region to benefit a community or small business.

Since 2005, INL has dedicated 9,407 hours to TAP projects that intersect and support the laboratory’s mission areas.

Select TAP projects from 2017 include:

  • Inergy Solar located in Pocatello, Idaho requested INL’s support for a Technical Assistance Program to evaluate an enhanced lithium ion battery. Researchers at the lab’s Battery Testing Center helped Inergy Solar determine how an advanced generation of lithium-ion battery cells would perform under various conditions that mirror those seen in Inergy’s products. Inergy is in the market of developing compact, portable solar powered generators for the home and the back-country.
  • The Divinia Water Company, an Idaho Falls-based small business, asked the INL Technical Assistance Program to assist in constructing a glass resonant chamber used in the water distillation process.
  • Radiation Detection Technology contacted INL’s Technical Assistance Program to request INL’s help with a Small Business Innovation Research grant for the Department of Energy funding announcement opportunity in advanced sensors and instrumentation technologies for nuclear energy.

Team INL

BEA also supported the community through its Team INL employee volunteer program, which provides small amounts of funding to help employees make a difference in their communities. The funding is often used to purchase building materials, paint, essential items and clothing.

Since 2005, BEA employees and volunteer groups have supported more than 450 Team INL projects, donating Christmas gifts to developmentally disadvantaged individuals in the community.

Team INL provided support to 28 projects this year. Here are a few…

  • Beautified and cleaned up Ryder Park
  • Purchased safety equipment for the rappelling wall at Camp Magical Moments
  • Provided support to a variety of health and wellness organizations
  • Donated school supplies for area underprivileged K-12 students

License to Lead

Participants in INL’s License to Lead leadership development program took part in three community service projects in 2017. Two separate projects, one in July and the other in November, were conducted at the Idaho Falls Development Workshop Inc. (DWI). DWI offers services to individuals in the area struggling with physical and mental limitations. These projects involved major cleanup, landscaping, painting, cement work, and safety hazard remediation. The third project took place at CLUB Inc., where major cleanup and improvements were completed at a single-family home in Idaho Falls. CLUB Inc. offers critical housing services, including rental assistance to prevent people from becoming homeless, and short-term help for those stranded in the area. In all, License to Lead volunteers spent about 425 hours on these three projects.

In addition to the labor, expertise and donations from INL/BEA and local businesses, License to Lead participants personally donated money and materials to make their projects successful. The participants take great initiative to make things better for those in need. While the top priority will always be serving people in need, a major benefit from these ongoing service projects is the development of a network of leaders at INL. License to Lead graduates have completed 48 community service projects in the last 10 years, compiling over 7,000 volunteer hours.

Philanthropic Programs

Since 2005, BEA has provided over $9 million in corporate funding to numerous educational, philanthropic and technology-based economic development programs. These included Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen, The Shepherd’s Inn, Idaho Falls Senior Community Center, The Haven Shelter, Idaho Falls Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center, YMCA, FREEMED, Bright Tomorrows Child Advocacy Center, CASA programs, Idaho Falls Community Food Basket, and Health West. INL helps fund philanthropic programs that focus on community, health, human services, culture and the humanities. In total, nearly $2 million has been given since 2005 to support more than 85 agencies and programs.

“I am very proud to work for a company that is such a good corporate citizen and cares so much about local needs,” said Lori Priest, INL’s community relations lead. “I’m also proud that our employees are so dedicated to helping meet the needs of our community. They are always willing to step up and give of their resources, time and talents to help with Team INL projects.”

Posted Jan. 4, 2017