CH2M HILL partnership joins communities and saves lives

CH_Foundation_logo_CMYKPartnerships can amplify the unique strengths and skillsets of collaborators to produce impressive results. Sometimes—as in the case of CH2M HILL’s partnership with its non-profit partner Bridges to Prosperity—those results can join communities, increase well-being, and save lives.

CH2M HILL is a worldwide leader in engineering, construction, and operations management. With 26,000 employees in 190 offices on six continents, the firm is well positioned to deliver on its mission to help clients “build a better and more sustainable world,” building on its Little Yellow Book, a roadmap for the company’s ethical behavior that was written by one of the company’s founders. Earlier this year, that mission took the form of a unique partnership between the CH2M HILL Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the firm, and Bridges to Prosperity, a non-profit company focused on building bridges in communities where they will have the greatest impact.

Building bridges through unique partnerships

ch2m_hill_2The proper infrastructure can leave a lasting impact on a community by providing self-sufficiency. According to Bridges for Prosperity, the presence of a bridge is linked to a 12 percent increase in school enrollment, a 24 percent increase in healthcare treatment, an 18 percent increase in female employment, and a 15 percent increase in local business.

At CH2M HILL, building bridges is part of doing business. The company has built bridges throughout Canada and the United States, and was ready to turn its expertise to rural Panama, joining the La Conga and La Florida communities. Through the completion of this project, funded by a CH2M HILL Foundation grant to Bridges to Prosperity, the firm did more than just bypass the Rio Trinidad; it provided the infrastructure to promote safety and security for the local population.

Historically, the rainy season was a dangerous time in the rural communities of La Conga and La Florida. When the river swelled, community members were unable to trade with each other, healthcare was inaccessible, workers risked their lives to get to their jobs, and children were unable to get to their schools.

To join the communities and bypass these threats, 11 CH2M HILL employees from different worldwide offices built a suspension bridge in one week. The bridge now benefits more than 300 people and allows La Conga residents to safely access La Florida resources.

“Working with Bridges to Prosperity to build the La Conga bridge was truly a humbling experience,” said Eric Vilce, CH2M HILL employee and project team member. “Being able to apply some of my technical skills to help bridge two communities is something that I will forever take pride in.”

This inspiring project is just one of the ways CH2M HILL works to better society and the environment. In the past year, the organization has met a number of its corporate citizenship targets.  In 2013, the firm reduced its energy and water use, reduced its carbon emissions, and recycled electronic waste in all of its locations.

“The mission of the CH2M HILL Foundation is to develop sustainable communities and inspire the next generation of socially and environmentally responsible leaders,” said Ellen Sandberg, executive director of the Foundation. “By partnering with Bridges to Prosperity in Panama, our employees are able to make our purpose a reality by laying the foundation for human progress, turning challenges into opportunities for everyone involved.”

While it does great work on its own, it’s through its partnerships that CH2M HILL delivers the greatest impact. Through the CH2M HILL Foundation, employees work to enhance STEM education and support environmental stewardship. Non-profits can apply for community grants to help fund such projects. The foundation also supports charities where employees volunteer and sponsors employee participation in community improvement programs in developing nations.

To learn more about the great work Center members are doing around the world, check out the check out the most recent issue of The Corporate Citizen.