Building stronger communities for a Net Zero future through the Drax Foundation

By Shona King, Group Head of Community at Drax 

At Drax, we’re committed to making a positive difference in the communities we operate in. During 2023, we strengthened our approach to supporting our communities with the launch of the Drax Foundation – a key part of our new global community strategy which encompasses active community engagement and local stakeholder relations, as well as a refreshed approach to philanthropic giving and social investment.

The Drax Foundation provides grant funding for non-profit organisations that share our commitment to improving equitable access to STEM education and skills development, nature and community green spaces, and support for energy efficiency measures. We seek to form multi-year partnerships with impactful non-profits so that we can address these issues at scale.

Each of our communities is unique. That’s why we have also established a new Community Fund to drive meaningful change through grassroots funding in each of our communities.

Through both of these Funds, we are committed to making a measurable contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We have prioritised eight intersecting SDGs and will report annually on the progress and contributions we are making to achieve them.

The Drax Foundation’s impact so far

During 2023, we operated a wide range of community programming and corporate giving in the communities and regions where we operate, including the UK, US and Canada. In total, the Drax Foundation and Community Fund gave £2.7 million to support our communities throughout 2023 – this includes £1.3 million in the UK, £671,000 in the US and £576,000 in Canada.

In 2023, the Drax Foundation:

  • Funded STEM education and training for 70,300 children and 637 adults globally.
  • Helped 20,860 people with access to community green spaces and provided money to restore or protect 1,230 hectares of land.
  • Funded energy analysis tools and climate education at over 200 UK schools.
  • Installed LED lighting in 8 pilot schools to help UK schools to improve their energy efficiency.

Examples of  grantees include Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering (TAME), who we provided two rounds of funding for in 2023 to help deliver STEM programmes for around 2,000 students, of which a minimum of 82% are girls or black, indigenous or people of colour. Speaking about the funding, Andrea Herrera Moreno, Executive Director of TAME, said: “TAME welcomes the Drax Foundation into our alliance as we continue to prioritise cross-sector partnerships that improve access to engineering pathways for Texas students. This support enables us to amplify our impact by investing in our programmes and capacity, and we’re very excited to engineer this new partnership.”

In the UK, we also provided funding to STEM Learning, helping them to deliver STEM education to 8,500 school children in areas of low social mobility. “We are delighted with the generous funding awarded by the Drax Foundation.” said Gill Collinson, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at STEM Learning. “The partnership will help STEM Learning’s mission to change the lives of thousands of young people by supporting teachers and introducing young people to inspiring role models and raising their aspirations.”

Plus, in Canada we’ve helped to promote nature-based experiences for youth with the University of British Columbia’s Wild & Immersive programme. “We are honoured to be awarded a grant from the Drax Foundation that will extend our trail system to enable more community members to connect and enjoy the outdoors in the natural environment around Williams Lake,” said Stephanie Ewen, Manager at Alex Fraser Research Forest.

In 2023, we were also proud to support 222 community projects via our Community Fund, reaching over 26,600 community members. This includes our annual donations to foodbanks in the run up to the December festive season, where we donated £110k to 33 foodbanks last year.

The third pillar of our corporate giving is our Communities in Crisis Fund, which was established to provide emergency aid in response to natural disasters, conflict and other humanitarian crises. In 2023, our Crisis Fund donated over £200k to seven different causes in the US, Canada, Morocco, Libya and Gaza-Israel.

Looking ahead

This year, we will be continuing our giving via the Drax Foundation and Community fund, placing greater emphasis on outreach and community engagement. For example, we recently announced the latest round of funding from our UK Community Fund, which will see over £35,000 donated to 33 organisations across the UK. Additionally, we will be expanding our community engagement across our operations with more community ‘listening’ sessions and focus group meetings to ensure that we understand community concerns and priorities.  

A key focus area for us will also be our new BECCS plant in the US, where we will deliver a full Community Benefit Plan to ensure we make a positive different in the community.

In supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency, we will also continue to roll out LED lighting, and solar panels in up to 45 schools in and around our operating communities to maximise energy efficiency and cost savings. Our LED pilot in 2023 is projected to save each school on average £8,600 per year on their energy bills, money that can be reinvested back into the children’s education.  

We are proud of all that has been achieved so far and are excited to accelerate our efforts in the year ahead to ensure we continue to be a good neighbour in our communities.

You can learn more via the Drax Foundation Annual Review 2023 here: