for Ongoing Work in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi
New Orleans, La. – Entergy
Corporation today received the annual Advocacy Excellence Award for Outstanding
Achievement from the Edison Electric Institute for its continuing efforts to
expand access to quality pre-kindergarten education programs in Arkansas,
Louisiana and Mississippi.
In announcing the honor Thursday, EEI
President Thomas Kuhn praised Entergy for the company’s commitment to the
communities it serves.
“Entergy’s ongoing advocacy campaign
to support funding for high-quality early childhood education is expected to act
as an economic engine for these communities,” Kuhn said. “Entergy’s effort
provides a stellar example of a company going the extra mile to improve the
quality of life for its customers.”
Entergy has been a longtime supporter
of education, but it began focusing more of its efforts on improving
pre-kindergarten programs in 2001 as part of an overall fight against the
region’s endemic poverty. Fifteen of the 30 poorest counties in the nation are
in states served by Entergy utilities. Studies show a link between early
childhood education and improved long-term academic performance.
“We’re pleased to receive this
recognition for our employees’ dedication and success, but there is much more
work that needs to be done to improve the schools in our region. We will
continue to advocate for additional funding to ensure our children – no matter
the circumstances of their birth – have an opportunity to reach their full
potential,” said J. Wayne Leonard, chairman and chief executive officer of
Entergy. “Planting the seeds of growth is an important first step. But we need
the ongoing commitment to creating an environment where they can grow and
flourish in the years ahead.”
Entergy sponsored research in
Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi spelling out the long-term academic and
economic benefits of quality preschool programs. Entergy employees at all levels
became involved in working with state commissions, business groups and others
advocating for increased state funding for preschool programs.
Based in part on those efforts,
funding for pre-K programs in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi has increased
by more than $178 million since 2001, and an estimated 60,000 low-income
preschool children now have access to high-quality pre-K programs.
Arkansas has emerged as a leader in
pre-K programs, providing 70 percent of the state’s poor 3- and 4-year-olds with
access to preschool programs. The state now ranks second in the nation in access
to pre-K programs for 3-year-olds.
In Louisiana, the Legislature
approved phased-in universal funding of preschool access for all 4-year-olds in
the state. Funding increased from $5 million in 2001 to $83 million in 2007.
In Mississippi, Entergy employees
have lobbied the state for pre-K funding, and in 2009 awarded $300,000 to fund
Mississippi Building Blocks, a statewide pilot project to create quality pre-K
It is the third EEI Advocacy
Excellence Award Entergy has received since 2005. It last won the award in 2008
for its Low-Income Initiatives, a variety of programs aimed at helping the
estimated 20 to 30 percent of Entergy customers across its four-state utility
service territory who live near or below the federal poverty line.
Entergy Corporation is an integrated
energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail
distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with
approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, and it is the
second-largest nuclear generator in the United States. Entergy delivers
electricity to 2.7 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi
and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $10 billion and more than