The Neighborhood Energy Centers (NECs) are a unique network of community-based organizations working to support residents who struggle with high energy burden, when the percent of someone’s utility payment is more than 3% of their income. In Philadelphia, where this issue is 86% higher than the national average, reaching all the residents in need in their communities is a significant barrier for the NECs when delivering critical services. The NEC Outreach Campaign was launched in 2022 to strengthen the ability of the organizations to do more effective outreach and engagement. This one-year initiative by the Office of Sustainability and the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA), the nonprofit that manages the NECs and runs programs to help residents access affordable energy services, wrapped up on June 30.
The goal of the campaign was to help the NECs reach more people in historically marginalized and vulnerable communities and equip them with the tools to perform more effective outreach. The campaign team created outreach materials for the NECs such as advertisements, brochures, websites and social media accounts, and provided training on how to use the tools. In the spring, the team helped the NECs host three regional energy fairs for the public to come learn about their services, sign up for energy assistance programs on the spot, and enjoy live entertainment and food.
All this work led to the following impacts:
- An estimated 100 more people were reached per NEC through the improved outreach efforts of this campaign, surpassing NEC enrollment goals.
- 40% of the NECs experienced an increase in the number of resident visits and services delivered, with some NECs reporting double the number of program enrollments compared to before the campaign.
- 70% of the NECs said their outreach efforts improved and that they were satisfied with their outreach efforts, compared to 10%-15% pre-project.
- The energy fairs were such a success that ECA will work with the NECs to host more in the future.
Most importantly, with this improved reach, more residents were able to access the NEC services and therefore receive assistance with utility bills. This helps residents stay safe in their homes and afford utilities such as running water and air conditioning, both of which are critical services during the hotter weather we’ve experienced in recent summers in Philadelphia.
The NEC Outreach Campaign is funded by the Operations Transformation Fund, a program that funds projects providing efficient and equitable services to Philadelphia residents. Learn more about the Operations Transformation Fund here.