Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Energy Boost Project Led by Chevron Will Invest in Education, Training in Region

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Energy Boost Project Led by Chevron Will Invest in Education, Training in Region

Article excerpt

After Chevron Corp. spent $3.7 billion to buy Atlas Energy's assets and gas reserves near Pittsburgh in 2011, the California company began contemplating how to establish a philanthropic presence in the region where it was poised to become a major player in the Marcellus Shale boom.

So officials from Chevron contacted the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, a long-established Pittsburgh-based charitable fund built on the fortunes of oil wildcatter Michael Benedum.

Chevron considered its connection with the nonprofit to be not so much the fact that both had a long history in the oil and gas industry, said Jim Denova, the foundation's vice president, but that the Benedum Foundation's grant-making focuses largely on education and workforce training in areas where Chevron would soon be doing business: southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The organizations began collaborating on projects in the region to advance education and training in the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math, such as developing a hands-on science curriculum and teacher training.

On Tuesday, they formalized their efforts with Chevron's announcement that it will invest $20 million over the next four years in the Appalachia Partnership Initiative. The initiative will focus on boosting STEM efforts and technical training in 27 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio, with the goal of better preparing students to work in the region's energy and manufacturing sectors.

"This is a unique window to create economic prosperity," said Nigel Hearne, president of Chevron Appalachia, which is based in Moon.

Besides Chevron and the Benedum Foundation, partners in the initiative include the Rand Corp., which will track the program's progress; and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, which has conducted research on what skills and training are in highest demand among energy companies and other employers in the region. …

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