Though low-income households in California face higher energy, transportation and water costs as a percentage of household income spent on utilities, they don’t always reap the benefits of government programs intended to provide financial assistance.

One of the reasons is a lack of awareness about these programs. A new report from the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation shows that outreach campaigns can be effective in connecting programs and those they were meant to help.

The emPOWER outreach campaign was launched in 2019, with Liberty Hill Foundation, a Los Angeles-based social justice philanthropic organization, serving as regional hub administrator. Through existing community relationships, Liberty Hill funded eight community-based organizations across the county to connect low-income residents with a suite of environment-related financial assistance programs, including those offering clean and affordable energy and clean transportation. These incentive programs provide benefits including, but not limited to, utility bill savings, zero-emission vehicle incentives and energy efficiency home upgrades.

“The pilot stage’s reach to the most environmentally disadvantaged communities in the region was undeniably a success,” said Gregory Pierce, associate director of the center and lead author of the program evaluation. The report was co-authored by Rachel Connolly, a graduate student researcher at the Luskin Center for Innovation. Connolly is a doctoral student in the environmental health sciences within the Fielding School of Public Health.

Read the full news release.