Inspiring innovation, cultivating community leaders and engaging citizens – read more about Suncor’s Community Investment Strategy in the 2014 Report on sustainability

Suncor’s Community Investment Strategy – 2014 Report on Sustainability

Inspiring innovation, cultivating community leaders and engaging citizens – read more about Suncor’s Community Investment Strategy in the 2014 Report on sustainability

“Whether it’s supporting Aboriginal youth, addressing skilled labour challenges or facilitating a dialogue on our shared energy future, our investments have the potential to be transformative, rather than transactional.” Read more about Suncor’s Community Investment Strategy in the 2014 Report on sustainability

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Community investment

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The world is changing. Society is changing. Business is changing.

We aspire to create energy for a better world. Our commitment to community investment is at the heart of that mission. We invest in change and social progress for the benefit of:

  • our organization
  • our people
  • the communities where we operate and serve

As stewards of valuable natural resources, we have the opportunity – and responsibility – to help build a better future. By supporting resilience, skills development and social well-being in the communities around us, we strive to create shared value and benefit for all involved.

We are here to connect and support, as well as to learn from our partners. By working with others, we increase our body of knowledge and make progress toward resolving complex social challenges.

Our community investment strategy

Suncor and our private, non-profit, charitable organization, the Suncor Energy Foundation (SEF), are guided by a strategy focused on targeted investments that are intended to help communities near our operations grow, thrive and become sustainable.

We define a sustainable community as a place where there is:

  • a high quality of life that attracts people and keeps them there
  • an abundance of clean, natural resources
  • ample economic opportunity

We believe we can be an effective partner in supporting sustainable communities by leveraging our strengths as an integrated energy company. That’s why we focus our investments in five key areas to support integrated initiatives that:

  • strengthen communities by cultivating community leaders
  • support building skills and knowledge for the current and future workforce
  • foster the ability to think creatively through inspiring innovation
  • build employee and volunteer capability by engaging citizens in community activities
  • engage employees and communities in collaborating on our energy future
Community investment funding by priority

* In 2010, Suncor and the Suncor Energy Foundation started using a new funding priority, Sustainable Communities, to categorize funding directed at programs focused on building capacity within the community. In 2011, Suncor launched a new Community Investment strategy with a new set of funding priorities. For historical community investment information under previous funding priorities prior to 2011, please refer to Suncor’s archived reports on sustainability.

Collaboration is at the heart of our community investment strategy. By working collaboratively, we can find and realize opportunities for long-term solutions that can positively impact communities, future generations and our company. It also ensures we continue to understand each other’s interests, issues, needs and concerns.

“This approach allows us to work in partnership with communities to make a real difference on some of the big issues that impact both society and Suncor,” says Lori Gammell, project manager, social innovation and the SEF. “Whether it’s supporting Aboriginal youth, addressing skilled labour challenges or facilitating a dialogue on our shared energy future, our investments have the potential to be transformative, rather than transactional.”

Read more about how Suncor supports Aboriginal education

Find out how we address skilled labour challenges

Community investment: a conversation about our shared future

To mark the 15th anniversary of the SEF, we hosted a two-day gathering in October 2013 that facilitated conversations between more than 100 non-profit leaders. The central point of discussion: can a company convene and empower non-profit partners, funders, thinkers and innovators – and together be part of real change?

The answer that came from two days of thinking-outside-the-box conversations was 'yes'. We learned from one another how to make a difference and build better communities. We also learned that, working as an integrated team, we could be far more influential, creative and relevant.

For us, this gathering helped reaffirm that our community investment strategy is on the right track. Here are some examples of that strategy in action:

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Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo

To get a better idea of the kind of initiatives our community investment strategy is designed to support, you need look no further than Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo (SPWB), a five-year partnership between stakeholders in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in northeast Alberta, the SEF, the Region of Waterloo in Ontario and the University of Waterloo. The goal is to improve the quality of life in rapidly-growing Wood Buffalo by strengthening its non-profit sector.

Since SPWB began, the project team has observed a number of key shifts in the working climate of the social profit sector in Wood Buffalo. Among them:

  • increased understanding of the importance of all sectors working together to ensure Wood Buffalo offers a high quality of life
  • growing interest in social profit sector collaboration
  • movement toward a collective voice and collective impact
  • a new, more positive language that uses terms such as ‘social profit’ and ‘social benefit’ interchangeably with the more common term ‘non-profit sector’ to reflect the sector’s contributions to improved quality of life

“The SPWB project is contributing to a growing shift toward a more collaborative community,” says Kim Nordbye, manager, community investment. “The shift is evident in the conversations people are having, the kinds of ideas taking root in the community and the new practices, processes and organizations that are emerging.  Most recently, SPWB supported the merger of three capacity-building organizations to form a new vibrant social profit, FuseSocial. Among the focus areas for FuseSocial: enhancing the capacity of social profit organizations; amplifying the collective voice of the sector; incubating new collaborative initiatives; and promoting volunteerism and community leadership.”

Read more about Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo in our Oil Sands Question and Response (OSQAR) blog

Building skills and knowledge

Our support for programs and institutions that contribute to building an educated and engaged workforce is one of the best examples of creating value for our shareholders while simultaneously addressing some of society’s broader challenges. By doing so, we are providing a direct benefit to individuals who wish to upgrade or enrich their job skills and opportunities. At the same time, we are helping the next generation of skilled workers to graduate. These skilled workers will be critical to our long-term success.

Some examples:

  • In partnership with Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) Polytechnic, the Suncor Energy Foundation (SEF) is supporting the development of a blended learning framework that allows apprentices to learn through online modules while on the jobsite. This saves time for students as they only need to come to campus for the lab and testing phases of their training. It also offers SAIT more training capacity and more options for using its physical space.
  • We currently partner with Lambton College in Sarnia, Ont., by supporting its Chemical/Power Engineering training programs that help meet the needs of industry in Eastern Canada. This builds on a previous partnership – creating the college’s Suncor Sustainability Centre, which has become the focal point for sustainability initiatives and programs in the Sarnia-Lambton region.
  • We are long-time supporter of Edmonton-based organization, Women Building Futures (WBF), which has an excellent success rate of preparing unemployed and underemployed women for new career opportunities by taking them through an intense pre-trades program. In March 2013, the SEF approved a new five-year, $1.5 million program of support aimed at helping WBF to refine its business model and expand its impact.

Collaborating on our energy future

Meeting society’s energy challenges today and tomorrow is all about making informed choices. That’s why Suncor and the Suncor Energy Foundation (SEF) are investing in an evolving set of initiatives under the umbrella of Collaborating on the Energy Future. Our goal is to leverage our strengths as an energy company and be a catalyst for an inclusive national dialogue that will enable Canada to use our energy resources wisely and pave the way for a sustainable energy future.

"Canada is an energy producer and user,” says Lori Gammell, project manager, social innovation and the SEF. “It’s something to be proud of, but also a big responsibility on the shoulders of Canadians. Opinions on energy may differ, but with everyone in the conversation, we can make informed decisions that create shared value for all Canadians.”

Initiatives we have supported to date include:

  • Student Energy, a global not-for-profit that is helping to create the next generation of leaders committed to transitioning the world to a sustainable energy future. Their approach of engaging all perspectives for a balanced understanding aligns with how we want to have the conversation about our energy future.
  • Walrus Talks Energy is a cross-country series that brings together high-profile speakers from many disciplines for 80 minutes of lively, thought-provoking discussion. The series, which began in April 2013, sees us partner with the Walrus Foundation, which supports public debate on issues vital to Canadians. In 2014, the conversation continues as the Walrus Talks feature more than 100 speakers from across the country. All Canadians can take part in these discussions via a Walrus-hosted live stream and interactive online conversation.
  • Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow (QUEST) is a collaborative network of stakeholders who are working to make Canada a leader in the design, development and implementation of Integrated Community Energy Solutions (ICES). ICES are all about creating smart energy communities by linking energy across land use, buildings, transportation, waste, water and related infrastructure. The QUEST vision is that, by 2030, ICES will be the preferred way of doing development and redevelopment in communities.

Supporting our employees

Volunteerism has long been part of how our employees contribute to the community. We recently expanded our SunCares employee program to provide employees with improved tools and resources to help them more readily identify volunteer opportunities in the following categories:

  • Individual volunteering – through our partnership with Volunteer Canada and Volunteer Match, employees can find local volunteer activities that align with their interests and skills.
  • Team volunteering – employees interested in team-building volunteer activities have access to planning tools and information on the several non-profit and charitable organizations with whom we are partnered.
  • Volunteering at Suncor-sponsored events – throughout the year, we sponsor community events in which employees can take part and make an important contribution.

Alberta flood relief: supporting community resilience

Community strength and resilience was demonstrated in the days, weeks and months following the devastating floods that struck Southern Alberta in June 2013.

Suncor and the Suncor Energy Foundation (SEF) responded quickly with an initial $1.5 million in support for relief, rebuilding and recovery efforts. This included a number of matching programs to encourage employees and the general public to support ongoing initiatives.

We also encouraged funders and non-profit agencies to work together to ensure all needs were being met in both the short and long term. The SEF continues to play a role in these funding collaborations as we strive to support social resilience in Calgary.

By the end of 2013, our total contribution to flood relief efforts (including cash donations, volunteer hours and in-kind services and equipment) was $4.2 million. That included a significant amount of giving and volunteering by our employees, which made this particular community investment all the more poignant.

Read more about our community investment examples at

Olympic and Paralympic Games support

Through our Petro-Canada brand, we are a long-time supporter of the Canadian Olympic movement. We have signed a sponsorship agreement extending our support for Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes, as well as their coaches and families, through to 2016.

Our involvement in the Canadian Olympic movement is a journey that began in 1987, when Petro-Canada organized and sponsored the Torch Relay for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. The renewed agreement extends our support of the Canadian Olympic movement past the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Since 1988, our corporate support has helped more than 2,450 young Canadian athletes and coaches, and has contributed more than $8 million in direct financial support through the Fuelling Athlete and Coaching Excellence program (formerly the Olympic Torch Scholarship Fund).

We also believe one of the best ways to promote Canadian athletes is to help their biggest supporters, namely their families. We continue to support a ticketing program that will help ensure family members have the opportunity to see their athletes compete in Rio in 2016.