While Align provides a wide range of business services, program management is one of the most resource-intensive and rewarding community-building challenges we take on. One of the complex programs we are most proud of is the management of Wyoming’s Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP), a program that fulfills our mission to create stronger communities by partnering with nonprofits, government and businesses. LIEAP is a federally-funded program Align has administered since 2012 through a contract with the Wyoming Department of Family Services. Open to homeowners and renters, the program helps cover the costs of electricity, natural gas, propane, wood, diesel heating oil, coal and pellets when these are used for heating a home.
LIEAP clients who are approved for assistance are also considered for the Weatherization Assistance Program. This program helps to further lower heating costs by making homes more energy efficient, with an energy audit helping to determine which weatherization measures will provide clients the maximum benefit.
In the 6 years since assuming the contract, Align has completely revamped the application process and approval procedure. With our technology partners, we are continuing our efforts to digitalize and streamline the application intake and processing workflow. The LIEAP program involves processing large amounts of paperwork and coordinating through multiple stakeholders (the State of Wyoming, energy partners and clients) to reduce obstacles to timely customer service.
In 2017, Align processed more than 10,600 applications for assistance, including 3,500 “special situation” applications where clients had received a disconnect notice, had a broken furnace, or were facing an empty propane tank. Eighty five percent of those applications were approved, with LIEAP Program Specialists helping clients navigate the program’s paperwork requirements and approval process. Align is also directly involved in a multi-year effort to digitize the process and streamline the application process, improving efficiency.
Outreach efforts to educate Wyoming residents about the program are conducted through multiple channels. Align utilizes local Department of Family Services offices, Senior Centers and other social service providers. Public Service Announcements are run on television and radio stations, as well as in community newspapers. We have also conducted webinars with past clients.
The program’s ultimate goal is to help as many low-income Wyoming residents as possible make it through our state’s long, cold winters as comfortably as possible.