Team members logged significantly more service hours in support of both in-person and virtual community involvement programs compared to the previous year.  -  Photo: Bendix

Team members logged significantly more service hours in support of both in-person and virtual community involvement programs compared to the previous year.

Photo: Bendix

As the world faced its second year in the COVID-19 pandemic during 2021, Bendix remained committed to its tradition of providing financial support to community organizations through grants, donations, and sponsorships. At the same time, team members’ volunteering efforts grew strongly throughout the year, as they logged more than twice as many service hours from the year before.

Bendix’s corporate and employee donations for the year totaled more than $830,000, including $426,500 in grants awarded on behalf of the corporate foundation Knorr-Bremse Global Care North America (KBGCNA).

The philanthropic organization is the North American arm of Knorr-Bremse Global Care, a global nonprofit entity operated by Knorr-Bremse, the parent company of Bendix. Headquartered in Munich, Germany, Knorr-Bremse is the world’s preeminent manufacturer of braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles.

KBGCNA centers its investments in the surrounding communities of Knorr-Bremse’s three largest North American companies: Avon, Ohio-based Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC; Westminster, Maryland-based Knorr Brake Company; and Watertown, New York-based New York Air Brake LLC.

In addition to KBGCNA grants, another $408,000 in 2021 funding came from Bendix and Bendix employees to support numerous nonprofit organizations and community initiatives across North America in the form of grants, donations, and sponsorships.

“Hosting, planning, and managing community support activities during 2021 was still very challenging, but we learned a lot from our past experiences,” Maria Gutierrez, Bendix director of corporate responsibility and sustainability, said. “With those insights, we were able to regroup and adapt our programs to offer flexible opportunities for our employees to become engaged in our communities. Our programming centered around offering both in-person and virtual events, allowing employees to participate from the safety of their homes or to adjust their efforts based on their comfort level.”

Gutierrez continued, “We quickly adapted to this new normal and saw we could continue to impact and support our communities just as much from our work-at-home environment as when we were in the office. Technology and online giving platforms allowed us to offer a wider variety of opportunities, and this translated into a two-fold increase in the reported employee volunteer hours from 2020.”

Of the $408,000 in Bendix contributions, approximately $47,000 was generated through employee donations and fundraising campaigns, while close to $126,000 represented Bendix grants from the company’s Get Involved! program. The remaining $235,000 in contributions took the form of corporate grants and sponsorships to local nonprofits.

Employee participation in Bendix’s Get Involved! program was a high point in the company’s community service efforts for the year, with the funding of 43 Get Involved! projects totaling nearly $126,000 in Bendix grants.

These project-oriented grants across Bendix locations are traditionally earmarked for efforts and organizations Bendix employees are currently supporting on their own. Launched in 2015 to honor the anniversary of Knorr-Bremse Global Care, the grants recognize and reward employees’ personal volunteer activities with projects and organizations located near Bendix locations. The projects support education, environmental protection, health promotion, and/or social cohesion. Approved projects receive grants for up to $3,500 to cover material costs.

This year’s awards brought the total level of Get Involved! funding disbursed over the last seven years to $847,500, in support of 318 projects and engaging 130 employees.

Bendix employees’ community service hours increased significantly in 2021, totaling 8,115 hours, compared with 3,500 hours in 2020. Employees logged an impressive number of hours in support of local efforts, all driven by personal volunteering commitments employees continued to make on their own.

For 2022, as schools and other organizations continue to ease their on-site restrictions, Bendix plans to increase the options for volunteering opportunities, both for traditionally on-site events and virtual opportunities.

Many existing volunteering programs and projects were adapted to virtual formats during 2021. Examples include the company’s Virtual Discover Engineering program, which exposed children of Bendix employees to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities; at-home blanket-making events, where some 54 volunteers made and donated 184 handmade fleece blankets to hospitalized children at Cleveland Clinic through a partnership with Fleece & Thank You; and virtual student project judging and mentoring opportunities, such as the Ohio Invention Convention.

Recognizing employees for their volunteer efforts was again in focus during 2021, as the company continued sharing monthly spotlights of employees’ volunteer activities to increase recognition and awareness of these efforts.

A related but new addition for 2021 was Bendix’s “Dollars for Doers” incentive program. This corporate giving initiative encourages and rewards employees who volunteer with nonprofit organizations of their choosing. Through the program, the company provides participating employees with online incentives that can be redeemed by donating to any nonprofit organizations they choose to support. The incentives are awarded based on the number of volunteer hours employees record in the Bendix Cares online portal. Employees are eligible to earn $50 in incentives for every eight volunteer hours, up to a maximum of $500 per employee per year.

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