The Future Is On: Entergy's Corporate Citizenship
Entergy's 2021 Integrated Report focuses on a number of key sustainability and ESG initiatives, including our corporate citizenship. Read on for an overview of Entergy's approach to corporate citizenship and view our full report at integratedreport.entergy.com.
As we continue on a journey with our stakeholders to improve lives, build businesses, and create prosperity—a key sustained focus is helping low-income individuals and families. This segment of our customers has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and weather-related disasters—difficult realities that made Entergy’s assistance especially vital in 2021.
We relied on our well-tested response framework as we provided relief for communities reeling from storm disasters and the ongoing impacts of the pandemic in 2021. Working with our network of nonprofit partners, resources were quickly and efficiently directed to areas of greatest need.
After the severe winter storm that affected portions of Entergy Texas, grants totaling $650,000 helped local nonprofits assist low-income customers with emergency needs. Our shareholders also committed $1.25 million in the weeks following Hurricane Ida to help address immediate needs. Additional contributions brought our total to more than $2 million to help communities in Louisiana rebuild and recover after Hurricane Ida. A key part of our response addressed equity and inclusion for minority business owners as demonstrated by $500,000 in shareholder-funded grants for organizations helping minority small business owners recover from the devastating storm.
As schools continued grappling with pandemic challenges, Entergy’s support helped keep students on track with their academic goals. Last summer, Entergy donated more than 460 refurbished laptops to school districts in our service area to help bridge the digital divide. In New Orleans, our $150,000 contribution supported NOLA Public School’s initiative to provide high school students the opportunity to receive COVID-19 vaccinations on campus, with parental or guardian consent.
Entergy provided support through our traditional low-income programs, with a focus on continuous improvement. Shareholders, employees and customers raised more than $3 million to provide emergency bill payment assistance for low-income, elderly, and disabled customers. By deploying a new program in 2021 that allows customers to round up their Entergy bills to the nearest dollar with the difference going to The Power to Care, we generated an additional $176,000 in 2021, and we anticipate that it will continue to raise at least that amount annually.
In response to the challenges our communities faced in 2020, Entergy formed a task force to ensure eligible customers received the maximum amount of available assistance, and that customers who never before needed financial assistance knew about available resources. Leveraging a variety of communication platforms, including a robotic process automation program, the task force in 2021 customized and delivered 3.5 million messages to more than 230,000 potentially eligible households. As a result, a record number of Entergy customers received utility bill assistance, and program awareness increased by 43%.
In recognition of this innovative customer outreach program, Entergy received the Best Economic Opportunity and Empowerment Program award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The effort also led to the deployment of a similar program to raise awareness among customers about rental assistance programs.
Entergy supports bill-payment assistance through our advocacy for the federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Last year’s relief efforts were bolstered by an influx of federal funds and pandemic relief programs that not only helped customers with utility bills but also provided rental and homeowner assistance. In 2021, assistance payments distributed to our region increased by 30% over 2020, making it possible for 276,000 Entergy customers to pay bills and avoid disconnections.
Looking ahead to future opportunities, our corporate social responsibility organization partnered with Entergy’s KeyString Labs to design and test a mobile app that enables customers to apply for and receive utility bill payment assistance through their smart phones. A successful initial pilot in 2021 will be followed by a Phase I rollout involving three community assistance agencies in Arkansas.
Entergy’s corporate social responsibility strategy is designed to drive improvements in three philanthropic areas—education and workforce development, poverty solutions, and environmental programs. We embrace the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and have identified primary impact areas that align most closely with our mission, philanthropic focus areas, and overarching corporate strategy.
The Earned Income Tax Credit is one of the nation’s most effective tools for lifting lowincome workers and their families above the poverty line. Last year, Entergy and our partners helped customers claim the credit through our support of the IRS-certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, returning $16 million to 7,000 low-income families in our service area.
Through engagement and volunteerism, employees and retirees play an instrumental role in helping Entergy achieve our philanthropic goals. Last year we logged 100,610 hours, or 6% more than in 2020. With a goal to improve our volunteer time-logging process, a cross-functional team including corporate social responsibility, information technology, legal, and supply chain developed and deployed a new software platform that streamlines the volunteer online experience and accelerates the process for paying community grants.