National Grid, National Grid Foundation Award United Way $550,000 to Provide Emergency Fuel-Neutral Financial Assistance to Area Families This Winter
January 19, 2023
BOSTON – National Grid and National Grid Foundation recently awarded a combined $550,000 to United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley to support local families with emergency fuel-neutral financial assistance this winter. The funds will support households in communities including Attleboro, Cambridge, Chelsea, Dorchester, East Boston, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Mattapan, Roxbury, Quincy, and South Boston.
National Grid awarded the region’s largest United Way a $250,000 grant in November as part of a $1 million distribution in funding for winter bill relief across the state. In December, National Grid Foundation awarded United Way’s Family Fund a separate $300,000 grant, continuing a nearly 20-year partnership to connect local households with emergency assistance during the cold winter months.
“This year, more than ever, as energy prices and inflation are putting such a strain on our customers and communities, we are pleased to again be able to help our neighbors by continuing our annual support of United Way’s emergency assistance program,” said Ed White, Executive Director of the National Grid Foundation and Vice President, Social Impact for National Grid. “We are especially thrilled to combine funding this season to offer even more relief for fuel-neutral energy costs during this unprecedented situation. We have a long history of serving as a community partner, understand the critical need in our communities, and want our customers to know we are here to help. We are grateful to organizations like United Way as they help deliver so many much-needed services during this trying economic time.”
United Way is distributing the funds to 16 community-based organizations through its Family Fund, which has administered emergency assistance and flexible funds to households across the region since 1976. The funds are to assist individuals or families with an unanticipated emergency (e.g., job loss, health crisis) or to help individuals enrolled with a partner agency take steps toward financial stability. Due to the global energy crisis and its impact on wholesale energy prices, the Mass. Department of Energy Resources anticipates heating bills for local families this winter to be up to 63% higher than last year for all fuel sources.
“It has been a challenging period of economic uncertainty for households in our area, with rising consumer prices for food and other basic necessities, shifting labor markets, decreasing housing vacancies, and increased housing costs,” said Bob Giannino, President and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “As United Way works to advance economic prosperity across the region, we are deeply appreciative of this continued and expanded support from National Grid and the National Grid Foundation, which will help ease the financial burden of home heating costs for hundreds of local families this winter.”
“We are grateful to the United Way and the National Grid Foundation for their ongoing, generous support of our fuel assistance program. Now more than ever, we need additional assistance as the skyrocketing cost of home heating fuel outpaces the ability of low-income families to pay to keep warm this winter,” said Evelyn Friedman, Chief Executive Officer of Greater Lawrence Community Action Council. “These additional funds will help us heat more homes, including many who earn too much to qualify for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) but not enough to pay the heating bill.”
United Way distributed funds ranging from $10,000 to $70,000 each to the following community nonprofit organizations: Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston, Community Action, Inc., Community Teamwork, East Boston Social Centers, Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, Lawrence CommunityWorks, LEO (Lynn Economic Opportunity) Inc., The Literacy Center, Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development (LHAND), Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS), Metro Housing|Boston, The Neighborhood Developers, Quincy Community Action Programs (QCAP), South Boston Neighborhood House, South Shore Stars, and Urban Edge Housing Corporation.
“The holiday season, followed by the cold winter months, often put a strain on the families we serve. Fuel assistance helps our Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester families stay stable in their homes during hard times,” said Alia Pacombe, Director of Community Engagement of Urban Edge. “Often, we can pair this assistance with an introduction to our wealth-building financial counseling programs so families can better mitigate future hardships and set goals for the family’s future.”
“Like all families, our families are experiencing major increases in utility costs this winter. At the same time, many families have already been struggling in unaffordable housing situations and with other high costs,” said Justin Pasquariello, Executive Director of East Boston Social Centers. “This funding ensures families can continue to have safe heat, home internet and other support for work and school, and other utility support. It also alleviates a bit of the financial pressure for families facing struggles in so many directions and reduces stress—helping alleviate some of the mental health concerns so many parents have been experiencing.”
“With this grant from United Way and National Grid, LEO can help ensure that our most vulnerable community members remain safe and warm throughout the winter. This year, families are facing surging costs on all fronts; these funds help bridge gaps with existing resources to support safe and consistent home heating options,” said Andrew Gilroy, Community Services Director at LEO, Inc. “Our agency has received almost 3,000 requests so far for heating assistance this winter. We are seeing more than three times the number of households seeking assistance for the first time than we saw prior to the pandemic.”
One hundred percent of funds are designated for direct distribution to families in need of fuel neutral assistance. Last year, funding from the National Grid Foundation provided fuel assistance averaging $488 to 513 households in the communities served by United Way partner agencies. The National Grid Foundation has supported United Way’s efforts in this area for 18 years, bringing the total of its support to nearly $2.5 million.
Massachusetts residents in need of assistance can dial 2-1-1 to access Mass211, a statewide hotline, funded by United Way, that provides residents with life-sustaining resources and information, and connects them to programs for assistance with needs such as food, housing and utility support.
About National Grid Foundation
National Grid Foundation was created to enhance the quality of life across its grant making territory. The Foundation’s ongoing challenge is to create opportunities for solutions to educational and environmental issues. Its objective is based on the principle that giving people the tools to build hope is an essential ingredient in the development of individuals, families, and communities. Since its inception in December of 1998, the Foundation now in its 24th year has granted more than $33 million to local community organizations.