Empowering Communities

Powering the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

January 12, 2023

The third Monday of January this year commemorates the legacy and life of Dr. Martin King Jr. (Dr. King) in honor of his birthday on January 15. The fight to have this day be commemorated as a holiday took 32 years. In 1983, Dr. King’s birthday was recognized as a federal holiday, but it wasn’t until 2000 that it was recognized as a state government holiday in all 50 states.

During the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Dr. King fought among other civil rights leaders to secure equal opportunities in hiring, housing, education and access to public spaces for Black people. Thanks to the tenacity of these leaders, the doors to equal access began to open for Black Americans. However, small gains did not erase hundreds of years of disproportionate access to opportunity, which created discrimination, inequality, and economic exclusion that still threaten Black communities today.

Today, Dr. King’s birthday is known as a day of remembrance and reflection, and it is a day that many people across the nation observe as a day of service to create meaningful change in their communities through volunteerism. It is up to everyone to drive equity in our communities, which is why ComEd is committed to creating an equitable clean future for the 9 million people whose lives we power across northern Illinois.

How ComEd is Powering Equity in Northern Illinois:

Giving Back to Communities — ComEd is powered by more than 6,200 men and women who deeply care about giving back to the communities they serve in northern Illinois. In 2022, employees supported initiatives including the Chicago Polar Plunge benefiting the Special Olympics of Chicago, The American Heart Association’s Heart Walks, and the ComEd Cause of the Year addressing food insecurity by supporting the Northern Illinois Food Bank and Greater Chicago Food Depository. In total, 1,431 ComEd employees volunteered 20,036 hours, supported 452 nonprofit organizations, and donated more than $1.5 million dollars.

Growing Workforce Development Opportunities — ComEd sponsors several workforce training programs, including the CONSTRUCT Infrastructure Academy, the CONSTRUCT Business Operations Academy, and the Craft Academy, designed to meet job seekers where they are and to expand access to skilled trades roles. In 2022, more than 200 Illinois residents graduated from one of these three training programs to pursue a trades career in the growing energy sector.

Powering STEM Education — ComEd hosts educational programs designed to inspire students ages 13-18 to pursue careers in STEM and provide scholarship opportunities to increase the representation of people of color in science, technology, engineering and math careers.  In 2022, nearly 2,000 students in northern Illinois participated in one of nine ComEd-sponsored STEM programs which include:

  • ComEd’s EV Rally, where 30 Chicagoland girls worked with ComEd mentors to build and race electric cars. Each participant also received a $2,000 scholarship.
    • ComEd’s Black History Month STEM Home Labs, where over 450 high school students enrolled for a virtual STEM event to hear from four prominent African American STEM professionals. Each participant also received a $25 scholarship.
    • ComEd’s Youth Ambassadors Program, a summer program where 114 high school students received a $725 scholarship while learning about the grid, renewable power sources and energy efficiency from ComEd engineers.
    • ComEd’s Hispanic Heritage Month STEM Labs, where 50 Latino high school students worked with ComEd mentors to construct small robots and learn more about STEM careers. Each student also received a $250 scholarship.
    • ComEd’s Create a Spark Program, a four-year program that pairs ComEd mentors with high school students to help build the next generation of scientists, engineers and innovators.