Entergy Receives Award for Multi-State Effort to Improve Pre-K Education
NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — 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 programs.
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 15,000 employees.
Entergy’s online address is www.entergy.com
SOURCE Entergy Corporation