OEF Raises $35,000 for Rural Eastern Oregon Counties

OEF Raises $35,000 for Rural Eastern Oregon Counties

While utility hardship affects Oregonians statewide, the crisis is felt most fiercely by those living in rural areas. Despite the high level of need, few resources are available to these communities, due largely to the remote nature and low populations of rural areas.

Climate change has only heightened the urgency of this need. Extreme weather events like wildfires, cold spells, and heat waves represent a direct threat to the safety of rural Oregonians. As events like these grow more common, it is imperative that families can keep their homes at healthy temperatures.

Three years ago, Oregon Energy Fund began dramatically expanding funding to rural Oregon. In some areas, we were able to increase our funding by a factor of five. This work has continued to grow, fueled by support from our generous donors and foundations.

Recently, Oregon Energy Fund received two community grants totaling $35,000 from The Roundhouse Foundation and The Wildhorse Foundation. These grants will allow us to increase funding to Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Harney, Lake, Malheur, and Wheeler Counties to help an additional individuals in financial crisis with their utility bills.

Donate to OEF today so we can continue to respond to this need – and ensure struggling Oregonians can keep their homes and loved ones safe and healthy.  

Oregon Energy Fund’s Benefit Beneath the Stars is October 29th!

Oregon Energy Fund’s Benefit Beneath the Stars is October 29th!
Doors open at 5:30 PM  |  Program begins at 6:45 PM

Please join us for an evening Beneath the Stars as we celebrate 32 years of powering lives! The evening will feature a cocktail hour, live music, delicious Northwest cuisine, a live auction, and more!

We Oregonians love to get off the grid, whether it’s watching the sun set on the coast or the stars floating over the desert in Eastern Oregon. But for many Oregonians, getting off the grid isn’t a vacation; it’s a harsh reality. 

Proceeds from the event will support Oregon Energy Fund’s mission to strengthen household stability by assisting Oregonians in financial crisis with their energy bills.


More details at OregonEnergyFund.org/BeneathTheStars.

Hosted by David DiMatteo of Upstream USA
and Misty Marquam of Marquam Auction Agency

Year-Round Assistance is Critical for Low-Income Oregonians

Year-Round Assistance is Critical for Low-Income Oregonians

As Oregon has begun to experience hotter temperatures, more families have been forced to use air conditioning to keep their homes safe during extreme heat waves and wildfire smoke. However, operating an A/C unit is a significant expense for many low-income households, creating increased demand for energy assistance at a time when funding is traditionally unavailable. In 2018, 25% of respondents to a national energy assistance survey said they had kept their home at an unsafe or unhealthy temperature because they didn’t have enough money to pay for heating or cooling. An additional 54% said they would have kept their home at an unsafe temperature had they not received energy assistance to help with the cost. 

There is currently no energy assistance program in Oregon that provides equivalent levels of funding in the summer months as the winter. We at Oregon Energy Fund work to close this gap by keeping our programs open year-round and providing uninterrupted service for Oregonians in crisis. Summer funding began with our Portland-area programs in 2020 and has expanded to include the southern I-5 corridor and Jackson County.

The record heat wave in the summer of 2021 was the 2nd worst natural disaster in Oregon’s recorded history. While our future may look different, Oregonians can and will adapt to whatever is in front of them. Year-round energy assistance will help prevent heat stroke, dehydration, and other forms of hyperthermia; prevent the need to sacrifice other expenses like food or rent to pay for energy; and prevent utility debt or shutoffs due to bill nonpayment.

Please join us in supporting this critical initiative by donating to Oregon Energy Fund today.

OEF Launches New Energy Retrofit Program for Local Nonprofits

OEF Launches New Energy Retrofit Program for Local Nonprofits

Since the 30th anniversary of Oregon Energy Fund in 2019, we’ve been exploring new possibilities to expand our impact in the community. We know that energy assistance is just one way to assist struggling Oregonians. Now, we’re thrilled to announce the culmination of that process: a brand-new project that will provide full energy retrofits to Oregon nonprofits.

This program, the Nonprofit Energy Retrofit Collaboration (NERC), is a collaborative effort between OEF and the Oregon chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC). Together, OEF and NAMC will team up with a local nonprofit that provides housing or shelter for their clients, weatherizing their properties and upgrading them to energy efficient standards.

NERC will be funded entirely by corporate sponsorship, allowing us to develop new ways of helping our neighbors while still allowing our legacy energy assistance program to operate at full capacity.

Our first nonprofit partner will be Albertina Kerr, which serves low-income people with disabilities throughout Clackamas, Marion, Multnomah, and Washington Counties. Kerr’s facilities include 54 group homes for youth and adults, which house more than 500 people with a variety of physical and mental health challenges and are unable to work or live independently.

Many of these buildings are older, however, and would benefit from construction upgrades that Kerr cannot afford on its own. As such, OEF and NAMC will perform the updates, helping Kerr lower its energy costs and increasing the overall health and quality of life for its group home residents.

While construction will vary from building to building, some upgrades will include sealing cracks and leaks, replacing insulation, repairing or replacing roofs, updating water heaters and HVAC systems, and replacing older appliances with new, more efficient models.

Retrofits like these provide an array of benefits. They reduce energy costs and lower overall emissions. They improve the health of the building’s residents by improving indoor air quality and stabilizing the home’s temperature – a crucial point as Oregon experiences increasingly extreme temperatures and weather events. Finally, they provide a sustainable solution to energy insecurity, allowing residents to enjoy the comforts and health benefits of household energy for years to come.

We’re delighted to expand our programming in this way, and look forward to assisting nonprofits across the state in the coming years. And you can help us continue assisting our neighbors in need by donating to our energy assistance program today.

2021: The Year in Review

2021: The Year in Review

Dear friends,

Back in August, I had the opportunity to meet Nancy, a low-income senior who lives in Salem and had received energy assistance for several years. Nancy told me something I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. When she received her stimulus check in January, she wanted to use it to give back to the community. She decided to donate to Oregon Energy Fund in thanks for the help she’d received over the years.

Nancy’s story is remarkable. It’s also a beautiful example of the ways our community has supported us – and each other – through this time of crisis. As the COVID-19 pandemic raged into a second year and thousands of Oregonians struggled to afford the costs of light and heat, you helped us raise over $1.60 million and keep the power on for more than 3,800 people. We expanded our funding to help low-income students and rural Oregon communities pay their bills, and kept our program operational through the summer so our neighbors could stay cool during June’s deadly heat wave.

This would be a triumph at any time. But I’m deeply humbled to see this level of compassion and humanity from our donors in such a difficult year. When lost work, illness, and extreme weather roiled the lives of vulnerable Oregonians, your support ensured they could count on a warm, healthy, and stable home, empowering them to lead the lives everyone deserves.

Our work is far from finished; many of our neighbors still face the difficult math of keeping the lights on or putting food on the table. But as we prepare to launch a slew of new programs next year to help them recover, I’m inspired by the unwavering support you’ve shown us and our mission to power lives. On behalf of OEF and all those we serve, thank you for helping us build a brighter future. See you in 2022.

Donate To Oregon Energy Fund

OEF Expands Year of the Student Programming

OEF Expands Year of the Student Programming

The COVID-19 years have been hard for everyone. But few have felt the pinch as acutely as students, who have needed to take classes from home in the midst of a global crisis. To make matters worse, many college students and families with children experience major financial hardship and struggle to pay for basic expenses like food and utilities, making it difficult to focus on learning and succeed in school. No one can read or do homework in a cold, dark house!

Last year, Oregon Energy Fund launched the Year of the Student, a dedicated effort to help low-income students pay their bills. Our first program provided a monthly energy assistance stipend to the families of students at KairosPDX, a K-5 charter school. We’re delighted to announce this program has been renewed for a second year thanks to a $10,000 grant from our partner CareOregon, allowing us to create a productive home environment for even more students.

We also established two new programs to help older students pay their expenses. The first, a partnership with Portland State University, will create an on-campus energy assistance fund for PSU students facing financial hardship – the first of its kind in the nation. We’ve also partnered with Get Schooled, a digital counseling service that prepares high schoolers for college and the job world. By reaching low-income students through texts and online tools, we can connect them directly with necessary resources like energy assistance.

We’re proud to address this overlooked need and look forward to adding more programs soon. Support our work today with a donation to Oregon Energy Fund.

Donate To Oregon Energy Fund

Voices of Oregon Energy Fund

Voices of Oregon Energy Fund

“Tim and his wife Joni needed to make more than 10 trips to the doctor last month for surgery and other medical issues. It’s an hour-long drive from their home in the country, and all the extra gas was a major expense that caused them to fall behind on their other bills, like energy.

Oregon Energy Fund helped them catch up so they could pay the bills, keep their home warm, and get healthy.”



“On my budget, everything is significant, and when COVID hit, we had extra expenses. Without energy assistance, it would’ve been a much, much harder journey. I just have that little bit of extra money each month…that’s able to go to things like food, family essentials, and health care.

What OEF is doing huge. I’m extremely grateful for what I’ve received from you.”

– Nancy, OEF client and donor


“As the Program Coordinator for my agency’s energy assistance program, I get to witness firsthand the impact that a gift to OEF has on a family.

From a single mom working full-time who lost childcare due to COVID-19, to an elderly couple who had increased medical and safety costs on their fixed income, I see the hardworking people who have impossible choices to make, that none of us should ever have to consider.

I hear firsthand the crack in their voice when we are able to ease the burden someone has been carrying. That’s one reason I do the hard work that we do. I get to help people who really need it.”

– Jess, OEF Board Member & Community Action employee


“Luanne, Beth, and James live in a low-income community in eastern Oregon. When their landlord failed to keep up with maintenance, the building’s HUD subsidy was revoked, driving up the rent and utility costs.

After years of not needing assistance, the three seniors found themselves unable to keep up with their bills. They reached out for help, and Oregon Energy Fund was able to help all three of them (and several others) pay off their energy costs while they looked for a more affordable home.”

Donate To Oregon Energy Fund

Deadly Heat Wave Shows Importance of Summer Energy Assistance

Deadly Heat Wave Shows Importance of Summer Energy Assistance

Is it just us, or can Oregon not catch a break?

Just a few months after the Valentine’s Day storm left western Oregon covered in ice, a record-breaking heat dome descended at the end of June. We all know what happened next: multiple days spent above 100 degrees and hundreds of people dead across the Pacific Northwest.

Sadly, most Oregonians died alone and at home. Many didn’t have air conditioning installed, or their unit was broken, leaving them with no protection against the brutal heat.

But even if A/C were installed, we can surmise that some may have been reluctant to use it. A/C can be a lifesaving resource, but it’s also prohibitively expensive.

We know from surveys that many low-income households try and push through extreme weather events rather than drive up their bills by turning on the A/C or the heat in winter.

Oregon has enjoyed mild weather for much of its modern history. But as climate change accelerates and events like this become more common, it’s critical that our neighbors have the support they need. As detailed in our summer newsletter, OEF has expanded to a year-round program to provide energy assistance during the summer. The heat dome is a tragic example of just how necessary this is.

No one should be forced to leave the A/C off during a heat wave. As we prepare for more extreme weather, please help us ensure no one loses their life because they can’t afford to keep themselves safe.

Donate To Oregon Energy Fund

Click here to find energy assistance in your area

Oregon Energy Fund Dramatically Expands Funding to Rural Oregon

Oregon Energy Fund Dramatically Expands Funding to Rural Oregon

From the high desert to the snow-capped Wallowas, eastern and southern Oregon are famous for their stunning landscapes. What fewer people know is that this region is also home to huge numbers of energy burdened families – and very few resources to help them.

So we’re proud to announce that, in the last two years, Oregon Energy Fund has undertaken a major expansion of its energy assistance program in rural Oregon. In some areas, we’ve increased our funding by a factor of five, creating a meaningful impact of our neighbors east of the Cascades.

Rural Oregonians experience some of the highest energy burdens in the state. Nearly half of all families in Wheeler County struggled to pay their bills in 2020, with many spending more than 10% of their income on energy. Malheur and Klamath experienced similar hardship.

Raising funds to help these families has been a challenge. These counties have small populations and low levels of donors, and many people live far from anywhere they can apply for help.

In 2019, OEF decided to pour additional resources into addressing this problem. We received generous grants from the Wildhorse Foundation and an anonymous donor, and worked to make our funds more accessible.

These initiatives helped us provide energy assistance to 194 households and 483 individuals across 11 counties – a major increase from years past.

Our program was particularly effective in Baker, Lake, Morrow, and Union Counties, which received almost no funds in the previous year. In some cases, we were able to completely pay off a family’s outstanding utility balance, clearing them of debt and allowing them to devote their remaining finances to other basic needs.

We’d be proud of this success at any time. But energy assistance has been especially crucial in the last two years, as temperatures rose, wildfires grew more extreme, and COVID-19 severely affected the ability to pay for basic costs like energy.

The support we received from foundations and individuals like you allowed us to meet this heightened need and ensure rural families stayed safe through these unprecedented events.

Thank you for your generosity, and please join us as we continue to support our neighbors in need.

Donate To Oregon Energy Fund