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Community Engagement

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and its managing partner UT-Battelle are committed to supporting 501(c)(3) nonprofits and educational institution programs that align with our Laboratory agenda and benefit our community, employees, and their families. Donations are allocated to program initiatives designed to support STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), bolster economic development, promote a sustainable environment, and assist with civic and cultural programs. 

We believe a vibrant community is essential for our mission and workforce. To that end, we provide opportunities for community groups, children, and young adults to learn more about ORNL through internships, educational programs, and tours. 

  • Internships - ORNL provides a variety of opportunities for students to have hands-on, real-world experience in a wide range of scientific disciplines.
  • Traveling Science Fair - Mobile exhibits are designed for student learning and highlight ORNL’s science directorates and the operational support functions that keep the Laboratory running.
  • Public Tours - We have partnered with the Department of Energy Public Bus Tours coordinated through the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge.  The tour includes stops at historical sites on the ORNL campus as well as points of interest at neighboring DOE facilities. 
  • Virtual Tours - You can visit the lab any time by taking a virtual tour. These vibrant experiences take visitors through ORNL’s world-class research facilities and historic locations. Guided virtual tours are available upon request.
  • Educational Support - Programs are offered for education levels K through 12, and laboratory tours are offered to middle school, high school and college student
  • Disaster Relief - To respond quickly with financial support when catastrophic events occur, we’ve set up a Disaster Relief Fund with the East Tennessee Foundation. Employees can donate to the fund at any time or contribute to a specific cause during a gift-matching opportunity. General contributions will be directed where needed most and support nonprofits serving affected communities.

Workplace Giving

Under the framework of ORNL Gives, community engagement happens all year long. From fundraising events, in-kind donation drives, volunteer opportunities, and payroll deduction options, employees are empowered to support dozens of nonprofits and educational institutions in whatever way is meaningful to them. We have developed programs that encourage volunteering, board governance, team building, fundraising, and financial contributions. These programs showcase the values of science, the commitment of staff, our workplace culture, and the importance of building thriving communities in which to live and work.

    Employee giving is more than just writing a check. It includes giving of time and talent, tutoring, and participating in fundraising events, to name a few. Here are three internal programs designed to support ORNL’s active and generous workforce:

    • Team UT-Battelle - Employees can volunteer together in the community to support the nonprofits they choose. ORNL provides opportunities for communications, funding, and other assistance to foster staff-led community projects.
    • Matching Gifts Fund - ORNL matches employee contributions to eligible 501(c)(3)s up to $500 with a $1,000 cap for each organization each year.
    • Volunteer East Tennessee - With the help of Volunteer East Tennessee, employees are encouraged to sign up for any available volunteer activity whether managed by ORNL, public or self-reported.

    Bi-Annual Grants

    What we support

    ORNL provides financial support to organizations that connect to our employees and the business community. The following criteria guide our giving commitments:

    • Organizations in Oak Ridge and surrounding counties receive priority, particularly requests leveraged with other community efforts or funds.
    • Investments that are larger in size and fewer in number, to organizations that provide tangible, lasting benefits to the region.
    • Nonprofits and educational facilities that align with our core competencies, which include but are not limited to the computing, environmental, energy, nuclear, physical and neutron sciences and engineering.

    What we don’t support

    We are open to reviewing all applications provided during the requested submittal time, but there are some appeals for support that we do not consider. They are as follows:

    • Grants or sponsorships to individuals
    • Fundraising events such as galas and golf tournaments.  ORNL participation is based on a few limiting factors, such as whether an employee-driven Team UT-Battelle project is supporting the event
    • Groups with political or religious affiliations

    Financial contributions are provided only to recognized 501(c)(3) organizations.  ORNL may require additional information on the requesting organization's budget, board of directors, and community service history and reserves the right to research additional details via Charity Navigator or other online review and vetting resources.

    To apply for a grant​​​​​

    All requests for financial support must be submitted online using the Grant Application. ORNL only accepts online applications for accredited 501(c)(3) organizations. Applications are accepted during two grant cycles only: July 1– 31 (requests reviewed in August) and January 1 - 31 (requests reviewed in February).  Grant Guidelines are provided for your convenience. Nonprofits can only receive one grant per calendar year. Recipients must fill out an Impact Reporting Form no later than 3 months after the project has been fulfilled.

    Note: ORNL’s communications office must be notified if an organization intends to contact media outlets about a corporate gift or propose a partnership story. Please email the communications office for assistance — communications@ornl.gov.

    Questions? Contact the Community Engagement Team at community@ornl.gov.

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle LLC for the US Department of Energy. Please read the Community Engagement Guidelines for nonprofit giving here.