Oregon Energy Fund Announces Partnerships with IRCO, NAYA, & Latino Network

Oregon Energy Fund Announces Partnerships with IRCO, NAYA, & Latino Network

Oregon Energy Fund is proud to announce that it has partnered with three new Portland-area organizations to provide increased energy assistance to communities of color. The three agencies are the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), Latino Network, and the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA).

These partnerships are part of a larger equity effort to make our services more accessible to those communities who have traditionally faced systemic hurdles to achieving financial stability and/or receiving support. Studies show that people of color are more likely to be energy burdened and face an energy burden up to 64% greater than white households, in part because a higher percentage of people of color live in poverty. By working with leaders within these communities, OEF is committed to addressing this disparity and ensuring that our energy assistance funds benefit as many Oregonians as possible.

Please scroll down for descriptions of the three organizations and the communities they serve. If you would like to donate in support of these programs, please click here. If you are in need of energy assistance, please click here.


Image of a smiling brown-skinned boy in a white t-shirt.

Photo credit: IRCO


Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO)

The Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) serves the holistic needs of immigrants, refugees, and mainstream community members in Oregon and SW Washington. As a community-based organization, IRCO empowers children, youth, families and elders from around the world to build new lives and become self-sufficient by providing more than 200 culturally and linguistically specific social services.

Oregon has one of the fastest growing refugee and immigrant populations in the country. Forced to leave their home countries for fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group, refugees and immigrants come to Portland to begin new lives. IRCO focuses on removing barriers to self-sufficiency and helps individuals and families thrive by providing more than 200 culturally and linguistically specific social services, from employment, vocational training and English language learning, to community development, early childhood and parenting education, youth academic support and gang prevention.


Image of a group of smiling Hispanic women.

Photo credit: Latino Network


Latino Network

Latino Network is a Latino-led education organization, grounded in culturally-specific practices and services, that lifts up youth and families to reach their full potential.  Their work springs from the core belief in Latino community self-determination—that is, the ability of community members to participate meaningfully in the decisions that affect their lives and the lives of their families.

Latino Network was founded in 1996 by community leaders who grew concerned about the lack of adequate resources to meet the needs of the growing Latino community. Since that time, they have evolved to become an organization that also encompasses transformational programs aimed at educating and empowering Multnomah County Latinos. Low achievement scores, youth violence and high drop out rates undermine the Latino community’s potential. Latino Network addresses these issues by promoting early literacy, encouraging parent involvement, working with gang-involved and adjudicated youth and families, and providing academic support and activities to high school aged youth. They also build leadership capacity for youth and adults.


Image of a young Native girl wearing traditional tribal dress, seen from behind.

Photo credit: NAYA


Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA)

The Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) is a vibrant hub that provides cultural programs and services for Portland’s 40,000 Native people.

Guided by its elders and trusted by the community, NAYA creates a place for Native people to gather together and live the values of their own unique cultures. When the Native community thrives, so does the entire Portland region. NAYA offers a wide array of comprehensive services and community-based solutions, including lifelong educational opportunities, cultural identity, leadership development, elders support, homes for families, early childhood programs, and paths to financial security based on traditional tribal values. NAYA is committed to eliminating poverty, hunger, family violence, and homelessness.

This past year, NAYA programs impacted 10,000 people in the Portland region, including 944 youth participating in culturally-specific programs, college and career services and homeless youth supports. Thirteen students graduated with diplomas from NAYA’s alternative high school, the Early College Academy. 802 families received housing and energy assistance, and more than 40 families received critical home repair so they could remain in their homes.


10 Ways to Save on Your Electric Bill Right Now

10 Ways to Save on Your Electric Bill Right Now

If you’ve ever worried about having enough money to pay your energy bill, you’re not alone. Nearly 39 million American households – or 1 in 3 – struggle to pay for electricity each year, while 25 million sacrifice food or medicine to cover the bills. And as the weather grows more extreme and our daily lives depend ever more on electronics, it’s become harder and harder to find ways to save on the monthly electric bill.

If possible, upgrading to energy efficient appliances or conducting a home energy audit are the best ways to reduce your electric bill in the long-term. But what if you need to lower your bill now? Fortunately, there are a number of easy – and cheap – ways you can cut back on your home energy use today. Scroll down for 10 quick energy-saving tips.


Image of a wall thermostat.

1) Set your thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter.

In cold weather, the cost of heating your home increases by 3% for every degree over 68. To keep your electric bills down, set your thermostat to 68 degrees when you’re at home and lower it by around 10 degrees when you’re away or sleeping. This can lower your bill by $83 a year.


Image of a person holding a stack of folded blankets and sweaters.

2) Wash your laundry with cold water.

90% of the energy used by a washing machine goes toward heating the water. Washing your clothes with cold water can save you up to $200 a year on your electric bill.


Image of a person plugging in a cord to a power strip.

3) Use power strips for electronics & unplug when not in use.

Electronics consume a shocking amount of energy, even when they’re turned off or done charging. Cut down on phantom loads by plugging TVs, phones, laptops, chargers, and even coffee makers into smart power strips and unplugging them when not in use.


Image of a hand screwing in a bulb to a ceiling lamp.

4) Switch to LED lightbulbs.

Turning off lights in your home is an easy way to save electricity. But what about when the lights are on? Studies show that installing LED lightbulbs can save you up to $100 a year on your utility bill – and they last longer than incandescent or halogen bulbs, too!


Image of a ceiling fan with four lights.

5) Use your ceiling fan year-round.

Ceiling fans are a cheap way to stay cool in the summer, and they can also keep you warm in the colder months! By reversing your fan to spin clockwise, the fan pushes warm air down, making you more comfortable in the winter. This can save you up to 15% on your electric bill.


Image of a sunny window with draping curtains.

6) Install curtains on your windows and know when to use them.

A home loses about 30% of its heat through its windows. To solve this, install curtains or window shades and keep them closed at night to help with insulation. During the day, turn down the thermostat and open the curtains to allow the sun to naturally heat the room.


Image of a smiling family reaching into a box of donuts.

7) Minimize electricity use during peak hours.

Many utility companies, including Portland General Electric and Pacific Power, offer lower electricity rates during the day or late at night. Take advantage of these off-hours by running large appliances like your washing machine or dishwasher at these times.


Image of water running from a faucet.

8) Adjust the temperature on your water heater.

Most water heaters come preset at 140 degrees. The Department of Energy recommends that you lower it to 120 degrees. This can save you up to 10% on your electric bill.


Image of a black and white cat sleeping on top of a floor vent.

9) Keep your heaters and vents clean and dust-free.

Heating systems are less energy efficient and have to work harder when they’re dirty. If you have baseboard heaters, keep the surface and coils free of dust. If you have central heating, wipe out the vents and make sure they’re open.


Image of a key chain with four keys and a small wooden house.

10) Enroll in a Home Weatherization Assistance Program.

Many local organizations offer weatherization and energy conservation programs to help make your home more energy efficient and reduce your electric bill. These programs will teach you how to seal your windows and doors to avoid cold-air leaks, DIY insulation tips, and furnace and water heater upkeep. Some organizations also provide in-home weatherization services for seniors and people with disabilities.

To enroll in a home weatherization program, visit the Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) or the Community Energy Project, or find your local agency here.

Still need help paying your electric bill?
Visit our energy assistance page to learn how to get emergency energy assistance in your area.

Utility Bill Assistance Available for Federal Workers During the 2019 Shutdown

Utility Bill Assistance Available for Federal Workers During the 2019 Shutdown

Oregon Energy Fund has always believed that no one should have to choose between paying the electric bill and feeding their family, especially in the cold days of winter. As thousands of Oregonians face the unexpected loss of a paycheck this month, it is important that federal employees and contractors know they likely qualify for emergency funding from OEF to help pay their utility bills.

OEF distributes funds for energy assistance to 30+ partner agencies across the state, ensuring that Oregonians in financial crisis can keep the lights on without skipping meals or missing rent. If you or someone you know are affected by the shutdown and are worried about making ends meet, we encourage you to visit OregonEnergyFund.org/Energy-Assistance or call 971-386-2124 to see which of our partner agencies are in your area and how to get help.

Click here for our full statement, or continue reading below.

Image of OEF Statement Regarding Current Government Shutdown, dated January 14, 2019.

OEF & Meals on Wheels People Launch Groundbreaking Senior Discount Program for Utility Bills

OEF & Meals on Wheels People Launch Groundbreaking Senior Discount Program for Utility Bills

Oregon Energy Fund (OEF) is proud to announce the launch of its new Senior Discount Pilot Program, a groundbreaking collaboration with Meals on Wheels People (MoWP) that provides utility bill assistance to senior Oregonians in the Portland Metro area. Believed to be the first program of its kind in the nation, the program is funded by a grant of $207,000 from the Meyer Memorial Trust – the largest competitively won grant in OEF’s history.

The OEF Senior Discount Program aims to support seniors on fixed incomes who have been disproportionately affected by the sharp rise in Oregon’s cost of living. According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 40% of senior households in the Portland Metro area are rent-burdened, leaving them struggling to cover necessary expenses like food, medicine, and utilities.

OEF’s Senior Discount Program addresses this issue by paying $25 to clients’ utility accounts each month. This payment will allow seniors to reallocate money that would have paid for energy and thus help prevent them from falling behind on other necessities. The pilot will serve 300 individual households for two years, with an eye toward expanding its scope in the future.

Elegant in its simplicity, the partnership between Oregon Energy Fund and Meals on Wheels People is a unique example of one and one equaling more than two. While OEF provides the funding, MoWP staff will handle vetting and enrollment – a natural fit given their established relationship with the senior community. MoWP will also help homebound seniors apply for assistance in the comfort of their homes. This will eliminate the need for them to travel to and from local agencies to register, which can require multiple trips, as well as the need to carry and keep track of personal documents away from home.

“By collaborating on this program, both OEF and MoWP will provide a much greater benefit to their community than by working independently,” said Brian Allbritton, OEF Executive Director. “By reducing the amount they spend on energy each month, seniors will have larger budgets for groceries and medications that are often unaffordable – all while maintaining their independence and ability to age in place.”

This project also marks one of the Meyer Memorial Trust’s first collaborative grants, which recognizes joint efforts between multiple organizations. By supporting programs like the OEF Senior Discount, the Meyer Trust reinforces its role as a leader in the field of charitable giving and a forward-thinking supporter of its community.

Photo credit: adwriter via Flicker

“I Owe You My Life”: In Their Own Words

“I Owe You My Life”: In Their Own Words

Image of a blonde woman in a blue shirt sitting next to a lamp.

“I’m on a veteran’s pension and Social Security benefits…it doesn’t quite cover it. With power and rent going up, I kept finding myself getting behind more and more. I had to move in with my son to be able to afford a place to live.

If I hadn’t received assistance, I wouldn’t have had electricity, and if you don’t have electricity, you can’t live in your home. You don’t have your refrigerator, you don’t have your toilets, you don’t have your air conditioning, your heaters. It’s dark, it’s cold.

So I am very grateful, because without Oregon Energy Fund, I wouldn’t have been able to live there.”

~ Rickie, U.S. Navy Veteran


Image of an older man and woman sitting next to a potted plant.

“Our mobile home is all electric, so it’s very important that we don’t lose electricity. With the fires going on this summer, with my asthma, it was very difficult to even go outside.

My husband and I are both on CPAP machines at night to help us breathe, so if we’d lost our electric, we would’ve been in a real world of hurt. I am so thankful that Oregon Energy Fund is in the area to help so many people.”

~ Joyce & Howard

Close up of a young woman wearing a striped shirt.

“I’m currently in treatment court and getting reacquainted with being a productive member of society. I just moved into an apartment, which is such a stepping stone for me, and without the assistance from Oregon Energy Fund, I wouldn’t have been able to pay rent.

I’m doing everything I can to succeed in my program, and I’m grateful that Oregon Energy Fund has programs for people who have a little higher income but still need assistance.”

~ Breana

Image of an older woman sitting next to a floor lamp.

“I’m a single parent of four. I work hard and I work long, but with raising four kids and the food costs, it gets expensive. Earlier this year, I had an electric bill that I didn’t have enough to pay plus rent, plus everything else.

Oregon Energy Fund helped out a lot. Our lights would’ve been shut off, and I would’ve had to either not pay my rent, or not pay my car note, or another bill would’ve not been paid. If it hadn’t been for Oregon Energy Fund, we would’ve been in the dark.”

~ Lela

Image of an older woman speaking while her husband sits in the background.

“I had to retire two years ago when my husband Mike was diagnosed with dementia. I’m his caretaker, and he can’t be left alone for two seconds. But losing half my income, going on Social Security, just killed us. We have a lot of medical, and we got a notice that our rent would be going up.

Then this summer, it was very hot. We had fans going in the bedrooms, and the A/C, and we received a utility bill that was $400. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what do we do?’ Oregon Energy Fund saved us. I owe you my life.”

~ Sarah

A Note from our President

A Note from our President

Dear friends,

We all show support for the nonprofits we love in different ways. For me, the work that Oregon Energy Fund does is so meaningful that I wanted to be a part of it. In 2009, I decided to offer my professional skills as a CPA, and joined OEF’s Board of Directors as a member of the Finance Committee. From there, I became Treasurer of the Board, and, now, President. The entire time, my commitment to OEF has only continued to grow.

We each have something different to offer. As a new year begins, I want to invite you to join OEF as a volunteer, in whatever capacity fits you best. We’re always seeking upbeat and friendly community members to help us with our work.

Please visit OregonEnergyFund.org/Be-Involved to sign up and stay in the loop, or reach out to info@oregonenergyfund.org to learn more. Together, we can make our state a better place for all.

Tori Bryson

Board of Directors, President

2018: The Year in Review

2018: The Year in Review

It’s tough out there.

2018 was a year of extremes in Oregon. A sweltering summer set a record number of 90-degree days in Portland. Wildfires rampaged across the state. The senior population reached an all-time high of 708,000 – an increase that experts say could exceed available healthcare and housing. And the cost of living continued to soar, with Oregon ranked the sixth-most expensive state in the US by CNBC.

While much of our state’s economy is booming, things aren’t getting easier for the many hardworking Oregonians whose wages have stagnated, or for seniors on fixed incomes. In fact, it turns out that the struggle among ordinary people to make ends meet has only spread. According to a recent study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration,

One in three Oregon households “have difficulty paying utility bills or sustaining adequate heating or cooling in their homes.”

One in five skip or reduce necessities like food and medicine to pay their energy bills.

One in ten keep their homes at an “unhealthy or unsafe temperature” to reduce costs.

These numbers are not only much higher than our previous estimates of one in eight. They also reveal a silent crisis unfolding all around us, in living rooms and kitchens across the state. They reveal that the need for help is greater than ever – and growing every day.

How We Helped

This year, we broadened our scope as never before. We raised over $1.1 million to support our mission, focusing in particular on local community funding. We formed partnerships with several new organizations to ensure our funds reach as many people as possible, including Meals on Wheels People (MoWP), EDP Renewables, and Portland’s Latino Network. Across the board, we helped around 9% more Oregonians than in 2017, and laid the groundwork to raise that number even higher in 2019.

We declared 2018 “The Year of the Senior” and developed innovative programs to support Oregon’s growing population of senior citizens. A groundbreaking collaboration with MoWP, set to launch in 2019, will provide seniors with a monthly discount to prevent them from falling behind on utility costs, and even allow them to sign up in the comfort of their own homes. We also announced plans to double our Jackson County Senior Fund, ensuring that residents in rural regions can access the resources they need to get back on their feet.

As we look ahead to our 30th anniversary next year, we will continue to think outside the box to help those in need. We intend to increase funding by 20% in the coming year, as well as cultivate relationships with local businesses, foundations, and sponsors. We face huge challenges, no doubt. But these programs are changing lives. And if we pull together, we can use all of our resources to keep our neighbors warm, dry, and safe.

Image of Brian Allbritton's signature

Brian Allbritton, Executive Director

OEF & EDP Renewables launch new PowerUp Program in Arlington

OEF & EDP Renewables launch new PowerUp Program in Arlington

Oregon Energy Fund leadership traveled to the City of Arlington last month for the launch of our new PowerUp Program. The program is sponsored by EDP Renewables (EDPR) and creates a fund of $5,000 for Arlington residents who have suffered a layoff, accident, illness, or other financial emergency and need help paying their utility bills.

The PowerUp Program is a culmination of OEF’s pledge to focus on local funding this year, especially in Oregon’s rural areas. Our Jackson County Senior Fund, highlighted in the fall newsletter, is another example.

Arlington is tucked into the golden hills that line the eastern Columbia River, about 50 miles east of The Dalles The community is home to Rattlesnake Road Wind Farm, which spans 8,500 acres of private ranchland and is owned and operated by EDPR. By joining with OEF to sponsor the PowerUp Program, EDPR is diverting locally-generated revenue back into the community to support local residents in financial crisis.

A press conference was held on November 15 in the city’s new Gronquist Building, during which EDPR External Communications Associate Bevan Augustine presented OEF Executive Director Brian Allbritton with a $5,000 check. Numerous local officials and community members were in attendance, including Port Manager Peter Mitchell and City Recorder Pam Rosenbalm.

“This new collaboration with EDPR adds to our historic funding in Gilliam County and opens the door to new ways to fund communities in need,” Allbritton said. “The PowerUp program is an innovative concept of partnering with local businesses to provide greater service and support to their community. In turn, this allows our partners to ensure that the towns where they operate and the people who live there will continue to thrive.”

Arlington-area residents who are interested in applying for help should consult OEF’s website to find their local agency.

We encourage businesses or donors who are interested in supporting energy assistance programs in their community to contact us at info@oregonenergyfund.org or 971-386-2124.

Fall 2018: Rose’s Story

Fall 2018: Rose’s Story

Dear Friends,

Who do you call when you need help with something? An extra hand to move a couch, a ride to work if your car breaks down, a neighborhood kid to feed the cat when you’re away?

Many of us have family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors to support us when we’re in a tight spot. But what if you needed help and had no one to turn to?

For many of Oregon’s seniors, this is too often the reality. As Oregon’s weather grows more extreme, the need for heating and cooling has escalated beyond what they can afford, leaving more and more of our neighbors scrambling to cover the cost.

Take Rose, an 85-year-old from Coos Bay.

Image of an older woman looking off camera.

Rose recently moved from an apartment to a mobile home to cut down on expenses. Instead of seeing her cost of living decrease, poor insulation and a scorching hot summer left her with a $1,000 electric bill.

Luckily, Rose had a friend who knew about us and put her in touch. We’re working to get her caught up and have introduced her to agency partners who offer weatherization services so she’ll be better prepared in the future.

Here at Oregon Energy Fund, we’re dedicated to helping people in crisis get back on their feet, because we believe no one should be isolated in their hour of need.

But we can’t do it alone. Donations like yours make up almost 75% of our budget, and have allowed us to make a difference in the lives of seniors across Oregon.

From all of us, thank you for your generosity, and please consider extending your support for those in need today.


Brian Allbritton
Executive Director