KOHLER, Wis. (March 8, 2021) - Kohler Co., a global leader in the design and manufacture of kitchen and bath products, and DigDeep, a human rights non-profit addressing water and sanitation challenges in the U.S., are teaming up on a multi-year grant program. The program supports local entrepreneurs and community groups who present innovative ideas to provide universal access to clean water and sanitation through community-based service models or new technologies.
The Water is Life microgrant program, created by Kohler and DigDeep, will initially focus on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah where more than 30 percent of residents still do not have a tap or toilet at home. While anyone living on the Navajo Nation is invited to apply, the first round of funding will prioritize solutions proposed by women that benefit women given the disproportionate impact the lack of access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene facilities has on them.
“The events of the past year have brought the issues of health and equity to the forefront of the global conversation and access to clean water and sanitation are deeply related to both,” said Laura Kohler, Sr. Vice President of HR, Stewardship and Sustainability at Kohler. “Our commitment to Safe Water for All means ensuring everyone, everywhere, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, has access to this important life source. Working with DigDeep, we hope our support of local businesses and entrepreneurs will lead to sustainable growth in the community.”
The Water is Life microgrant program is part of Kohler Safe Water for All, the company’s commitment to addressing pressing challenges around water access, quality and conservation and broaden public awareness around water issues. In addition to funding new business ideas, Kohler will provide mentorship opportunities by connecting grantees to Kohler associates who will lend their expertise and work directly with grantees to help develop and build these businesses. Kohler will also leverage its internal product innovation incubator, Innovation for Good, to help offer solutions to challenges that the grantees may face as they develop their projects.
"Navajo people are resilient, creative and resourceful," says Emma Robbins, Director of DigDeep's Navajo Water Project. "At DigDeep, we collaborate with local staff and other community organizations to find solutions that address each community's unique water needs. The Water Is Life microgrant program will empower more of our neighbors to become part of this solution building, by bringing their own ideas to fruition."
Throughout the year, Kohler will be using its touchpoints with customers and the public at-large to generate awareness of clean water and sanitation issues in the U.S., including lack of access, and advocate ways people can engage with DigDeep and the Navajo Water Project, as well as support other initiatives related to water.
"We're honored by Kohler's support and partnership to introduce our first microgrant program," says George McGraw, Founder and CEO of DigDeep. "Kohler has a long track record of philanthropic projects that bring safe water to communities around the world, and this program will fund creative ideas that take us one step closer to closing the water access gap on the Navajo Nation and across the United States."
The Water is Life microgrant program will support 25-30 local entrepreneurs or community groups over a three- year period. Kohler and DigDeep will announce the recipients of the first round of grants in June 2021, followed by a second round in the Fall.