Breaking the Bonds of Poverty
The Entergy Corporation delivers electricity to 2.7 million customers, employs nearly 15,000 people, and has annual revenues of more than $13 billion. Furthermore, Entergy is passionately committed to the eradication of poverty, viewing that goal as both a moral obligation and a business imperative.
The goal of Entergy’s Low-Income Customer Assistance Program, for instance, is to erase poverty in the communities it serves in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The program equips low-income individuals and families with tools to break the bonds of intergenerational poverty, with three major areas of focus. Self-sufficiency is promoted by supporting programs that provide education, job training, affordable housing, and asset creation such as matched savings accounts. Government funding and assistance is encouraged through lobbying efforts to support legislation addressing the needs of low-income individuals, and Entergy’s Low-Income Customer Assistance Program helps customers reduce their energy usage and manage their utility bills through educational and energy- conservation tools.
Entergy serves one of the nation’s most poverty stricken regions, and approximately one out of every four of its nearly three million customers lives below the poverty line. Entergy is the only Fortune 500 Company headquartered in New Orleans, for example, a city where 40 percent of children are raised in poverty. And low-income households often spend up to 40 percent of their monthly income on energy, compared to other households which average less than four percent. Plus low-income households are likely to include young children and elderly residents.
Through partners and allies, Entergy reaches as many families and individuals in need as possible, distributing a newsletter that promotes all of the available assistance programs to more than 20,000 low-income agencies and advocates. The company maintains a fulfillment center that enables agencies and churches to order materials for bulk distribution, and it also works with groups like the IRS to promote programs that educate people about benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.
“We are proud to advocate on behalf of our low-income customers because they are often our best customers,” says Entergy CEO Wayne Leonard—who launched the Low-Income Initiatives 10 years ago. “Contrary to stereotyping, the poor struggle to pay their bills—and pay them on time, often wrestling with impossible choices about which takes precedence— utility bills, rent, food, or a doctor’s bill. We want to do everything we can to help them break the cycle of poverty. The future of our communities and our company depend on it.”
During Entergy’s annual Low-Income Summits, company executives meet face to face with advocates to identify ways to assist low-income Entergy customers. More than 1,000 low-income advocates attend the regional meetings, which include workshops and exhibits focused on topics such as education, literacy, affordable housing, asset creation, and energy-related issues like weatherization and utility assistance. Entergy employees also log more than 60,000 hours of volunteer service each year for nonprofit organizations, with activities such as building affordable homes, tutoring and mentoring children, and weatherizing homes for senior citizens.
CareerFOCUS Magazine™ and the National Eagle Leadership Institute® salute Entergy Corporation – winner of the 2009 NELI AWARD honoring stellar leadership in corporate responsibility.