Supporting the Innovators of the Future
Kevin Sagara believes it’s his company’s responsibility to give back to the communities it serves by supporting efforts that can impact lives.
“We want to donate where we can help shape the future of San Diego in a positive way,” says Sagara, the chairman and CEO of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). “And Salk is preparing tomorrow’s scientists while improving the world now.”
SDG&E has supported Salk for eight years, giving to the Institute’s Education Outreach program, which enables Salk’s world-class faculty and staff to impart their passion for and knowledge of research to inspire and launch the next generation of scientists.
In 2019, SDG&E’s shareholder-funded Environmental Champions Grant program supported Salk’s Mobile Science Lab, a free biotechnology program that serves middle schools throughout San Diego County. The program, which provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about genetics and DNA from working Salk scientists, served more than 2,500 students and more than 60 teachers in the 2018-2019 school year through school visits, classroom activity kits and teacher trainings.
“We’re very reliant, obviously, on engineering, and we’re always innovating, so our support of the Education Outreach program, which seeks to inspire future engineers and scientists, is a natural fit for us,” Sagara says.
“We want to donate where we can help shape the future of San Diego in a positive way. And Salk is preparing tomorrow’s scientists while improving the world now.”
SDG&E, which serves 3.6 million customers in San Diego and southern Orange counties and employs 4,000 people, contributed more than $8 million and logged thousands of volunteer hours in support of local charities and organizations in 2018.
The culture of philanthropy at SDG&E is modeled from the top down, Sagara adds. Each executive has a project or charity they support outside of work, and they encourage all employees to follow their passions.
“It’s how we extend philanthropy beyond money and donations—by encouraging our employees to engage with the community,” Sagara says.
Sagara is a longtime resident of San Diego. He and his wife live in Del Mar and have two adult children. He says he was familiar with Salk for years and engaged with the Institute while at Sempra Renewables before he joined SDG&E. He was an early supporter of Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative and currently serves on its advisory board, where he provides policy insight.
Sagara says he’s proud that SDG&E embraces and encourages philanthropy.
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to make this world a better place than how we found it,” he says.