Menu

News/Events

Archive: Apr 2022

The History of Dollar Energy Fund: 1983-2022

Posted on: April 18, 2022

Our History

Dollar Energy Fund was founded on April 19, 1983, in Western Pennsylvania by a coalition of concerned community and business leaders.

In 1983, Betty Ann Simon was working as a volunteer for KDKA’s “Call for Action,” a program that helped people find agencies to assist them in solving problems. She found herself inundated with calls from low-income individuals seeking help with their mounting utility bills. Betty Ann was compelled to help, so she reached out to her contacts from various regional religious and social agencies. This led local religious and community leaders to recognize that far too many of their less fortunate neighbors were unable to afford the cost of heat, electricity and water. In response to the growing crisis, a coalition of 24 community leaders formed Dollar Energy Fund.

Dollar Energy Fund was headquartered at Synod Hall in the Saint Paul Cathedral in Oakland. The grassroots effort started contacting utility companies and executives agreed to contribute on a dollar-for-dollar basis. For every dollar raised, the utility company would also give one dollar to help a family in need. During its first year, Dollar Energy Fund’s Hardship Program distributed $397,200 to 1,218 households in Pennsylvania.

Betty Ann worked tirelessly for two decades directly addressing the daily struggles faced by thousands of limited-income households in Pennsylvania. From her position as a founder in 1983, to her active service on the Board until her passing in 2002, she focused on developing ways to immediately provide assistance to families facing difficulties in affording safe and adequate utility service.

Our organization has since grown to become the largest hardship fund in Pennsylvania and one of the largest in the country. For 39 years, we’ve served the limited-income community by providing more than $232 million in utility assistance grants to more than 769,000 limited-income families and individuals.

Our Partnerships

Dollar Energy Fund began with three utility partners – Duquesne Light Company, Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, and Peoples – and 24 community-based agencies in Western Pennsylvania. We expanded beyond Pennsylvania in 2008 with the addition of a Hardship Program in West Virginia. Since then, we’ve extended our reach into Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee and Maryland in 2009; Texas and Louisiana in 2011; Arkansas in 2013; California and Kentucky in 2014; Connecticut in 2016; Indiana in 2019; and most recently, Nebraska in 2020.

Today, our organization administers Hardship Programs for 45 utility companies across 14 states. Dollar Energy Fund partners with over 450 community-based organizations throughout our service territory. These organizations handle application intake for our programs while also connecting those in need with other forms of assistance. This approach puts at-risk households in touch with additional services—such as food, childcare and career assistance.

Our Unique Funding Model

As Betty Ann Simon intended, our unique funding model provides a dollar-for-dollar match from our partnering utility companies for almost every donation we receive. The utility companies also make a separate donation to cover our administrative fees, so 100 percent of all individual donations are used to provide utility assistance grants to limited-income households.

Looking Forward

Though much has changed since 1983, many aspects of Dollar Energy Fund remain the same. The majority of funding is obtained through private donations and matching utility shareholder credits; each Hardship Program application is reviewed individually; and the focus is still on our clients and the mission of helping neighbors in need.

As Dollar Energy Fund continues to expand, so does the need for utility assistance. Dollar Energy Fund is still working to fulfill its mission of helping families on their path to self-sufficiency. If you would like to help a neighbor in need, please visit www.dollarenergy.org/donate.

Looking Back: 2021-2022 Mid-Year Review

Posted on: April 4, 2022

Dollar Energy Fund is halfway through a successful 2021-2022 program year. Let’s look back at what we have accomplished during the past six months, with the help of our staff, utility partners and supporters.

October

  • Dollar Energy Fund earned its fifth consecutive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for our commitment to financial accountability and transparency.
  • Dollar Energy Fund celebrated our 30 year partnership anniversary with Pennsylvania American Water and the H2O Help to Others Program.

November

  • Dollar Energy Fund hosted its annual Winter Warm Up Request-A-Thon in partnership with iHeartMedia and 3WS Pittsburgh. The event raised $150,492 to provide utility assistance to approximately 425 Pittsburgh households who were struggling to stay warm.
  • Dollar Energy Fund was a sponsor and benefiting charity of Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland in Butler, PA and Johnson City, TN. Coupons were distributed to customers to receive $2 off admission and Dollar Energy Fund received a $1 donation for every coupon redeemed. In total, the Shadrack’s campaign raised $28,000 to help families across Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
  • Dollar Energy Fund participated in #GiveBigPittsburgh and #ShareOmaha on Giving Tuesday.

December

  • Dollar Energy Fund signed contracts with National Fuel Gas Company and Omaha Public Power District for their LIRA and CAP programs.
  • The EQT Foundation connected with Dollar Energy Fund again this year to make a $10,000 donation to benefit Pennsylvanians in need.
  • The Jack Buncher Foundation supported Dollar Energy Fund with a $60,000 donation to help Pennsylvanians in need.
  • The Citizen’s Bank Foundation awarded Dollar Energy Fund with a $53,000 donation towards the Hardship Program and Cool Down for Warmth campaign.

January

  • In January, Dollar Energy Fund raised more than $140,000 during its 8th annual Cool Down for Warmth event on Pittsburgh Today Live (KDKA-TV). The amount raised gave assistance to approximately 390 Pittsburgh families who were struggling to afford safe utility service.

February

  • In February, Dollar Energy Fund’s 14th annual Warmathon on KDKA Radio raised $203,328, which provided utility assistance grants to 564 additional Pittsburgh-area households.

March

  • The Robert Morris University Department of Athletics partnered with Dollar Energy Fund this season to assist families in the Pittsburgh region struggling to afford heat. The “Points for Power” program donated $1 for every point scored by the RMU men’s and women’s basketball teams. The total amount raised was $7,482.
  • This year’s virtual Heat the Streets Run & Walk for Warmth in Nebraska raised $151,352 to provide utility assistance to Omaha Public Power and Metropolitan Utilities District customers in need.

Most importantly, Dollar Energy Fund has already distributed 10,899 grants, totaling $2.9 million across the country since October 1, 2021. Since 1983, we have assisted more than 769,000 households by distributing over $232 million in utility assistance nationwide.

With your help, we can continue to provide immediate and direct assistance during our 2021-2022 program year. Your contribution, no matter how big or small, can make an extraordinary impact by ensuring local, limited-income families maintain or restore safe utility service and get on a path to self-sufficiency. If you would like to get involved during this program year, subscribe to our email newsletters to stay up to date on our latest fundraising campaigns. We have more fundraising opportunities coming up this year, including our Pittsburgh Penguins partnership campaigns, and the Golf Classic tentatively scheduled for September 9.

On behalf of the many individuals, seniors, and families we have helped, we thank you for your continued support!

Categories

Archives

Calendar

April 2022
M T W T F S S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

$232 Million in Grants Distributed Since 1983