You are receiving Sharing Neighborhoods as a registered subscriber. Sharing Neighborhoods is a publication of New Jersey SHARES, on the web at www.NJSHARES.org.
US Department of Health and Human Services Issues 2012 Federal Poverty Guidelines
The US Department of Health and Human Services has issued the 2012 Federal Poverty Guidelines. The changes affect the NJ SHARES program caps for energy, telephone and water assistance programs. All income rules have been updated and will be effective Wednesday, February 1, 2012.
NJ SHARES Energy, Verizon Communications Lifeline and New Jersey American Water Assistance Training Packets and Useful Tool materials are updated to reflect the income guideline policy change. NJ SHARES’ partner agencies can download this information from the intake system. For questions, contact email@example.com.
National Call Center Conference Highlights NJ SHARES
Kimberly Warrick, Manager of the NJ SHARES' Client Services Call Centers, presented a workshop highlighting creative training techniques at the national call center conference.
'The Summit', presented by Call Center Week, is in its 7th annual event held in Orlando, Florida. The conference brings together over 350 contact center executives to explore new management strategies and multi channel customer technologies to support leading professionals as they shape the future of customer service.
Discount Heating Oil Available through Citizen’s Action Group
Discount heating oil is available through Citizen’s Action Group, an organization that provides members with hundreds of dollars a year in savings on their oil heating bills. The organization was formed in 1983 to provide consumers with an alternative to the high cost of heating fuel. All New Jersey residents and businesses who heat with oil are eligible. Citizen’s Action Group uses bulk purchasing power to negotiate discount prices for members. To learn more visit: www.njcaoilgroup.com.
Free Tax Preparation for Eligible Military Service Members
Eligible service members and their family members can file their taxes for free though Military OneSource. It is fast, secure, and free! You can also check the status of your efile, be confident that your calculations are 100 percent correct or H&R Block pays the penalties and interest, and know that H&R Block is by your side in the rare event of an audit. For more information visit: http://www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil/12038/Newsletters/MHF/265713.html.
Earned Income Tax Credit
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit for working families and individuals. It increases the amount refunded to a taxpayer or reduces the amount of tax owed. The amount of the credit varies according to income and family size. In 2010, 26.8 million eligible families and individuals claimed Earned Income credits worth almost $59.5 billion. Yet one out of five households do not claim EITC.
New Jersey wage earners can also take advantage of the state's own EITC program. Residents who are eligible and file for a Federal earned income credit can also receive a New Jersey credit in the amount equal to 20% of their Federal benefit. For More information and to determine eligibility, visit: www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/n1015.pdf.
As we look ahead to another challenging year of securing resources to aid our neighbors with their energy burdens, we are committed to providing the service our neighbors deserve. Our clients in crisis are highly stressed as they struggle to maintain the cost of living here in New Jersey, a state where according to the Poverty Research Institute's Report (www.lsnj.org/pri), households suffer with high housing costs and the lowest food stamp benefit enrollees in the nation. In line with our mission of offering hope and delivering help through education, adovacay, community outreach, information and referral we also connect low and moderate income households with available resources to meet their ongoing needs.
NJ SHARES’ Call Center representatives are specially trained to aid clients in crisis with information, referral and benefit information. The Outreach and Government Affairs staff are actively educating people across the state on the NJ SHARES’ programs and providing support to the more than 300 Legislative and Community Based Organizations. Our agency partners serve as the front lines in combating poverty by connecting clients with resources. Finally, our grant processing staff responds to client and agency inquires facilitating the processes of providing necessary documents for successful applications. They also work with all the utility and energy providers to processes grants to client accounts.
While most New Jerseyans strive to climb out of recession, we will continue to explore innovative ways to aid clients to attain self-sufficiency. We look toward strengthening our existing partnerships and developing new ones that will make a difference for our struggling neighbors.
National Energy and Utility Affordability Conference
The National Energy and Utility Affordability Conference (NEUAC) recently posted the registration brochure for NEUAC 2012 on their website, www.neuac.org. The conference which will be held June 11-13 in New Orleans draws about 650-750 attendees who are eager to learn of new approaches and resources to help them in their mission of relieving the energy burdens of low-income households. This year’s conference will feature more than 50 workshops and panel discussions, prominent speakers and exhibits.
NEUAC, presented by the National Low Income Energy Consortium (NLIEC) and the National Fuel Funds Network (NFFN), is the nation’s largest annual gathering addressing energy affordability for low-income households. It’s the only major event providing people on the “front lines” of the battle against energy poverty – human service agencies, nonprofit organizations, utilities trying to address the issue of nonpayment, state regulators and federal officials – with an opportunity to gather in one place to share concerns and discuss possible solutions.
For an overview of the conference visit the following links: (http://www.neuac.org/2012 Schedule.html), (http://www.neuac.org/2012 Registration.html) and http://www.neuac.org/2012 Registration Brochure.pdf.
The Center for Non-Profits and Idealware Host Technology Course
The course is five sessions held on Wednesdays beginning on January 25 – February 22 from 10- 11:30 am. Through this course, you will: learn best practices to choose and use technology for functional and secure infrastructure, mission-specific software, constituent tracking, websites, broadcast email and social media; perform a self-evaluation of each technology area to highlight opportunities for growth and improvement; prioritize current technology needs at your organizational; and create a basic technology plan for upgrading, improving and implementing core technology to maximize organizational efficiency and spending.
This training includes an hour-and-a-half online Webinar once a week for five weeks, an open-form “office hour” session each Friday, and structured homework assignments to help you identify technology priorities and develop an action plan. For more information on this course and two additional seminars concerning Branding and IRS Compliance coming up in February and March, visit the Center Events Web page – www.njnonprofits.org/events.
Client Data: At the start of each year the NJ SHARES databases changes over. All client data is stored and the database is ready for 2012 client information. If you need to pull information on clients or agency activity for 2011, you will have to go to a different place in our secure online system. In order to view the 2011 activity for your agency, please go to Client Applications on the Welcome Screen. There will be a dropdown and you will click on 2011 Grant Data and then click View Report.
Be on the lookout: The Federal Government has updated the Federal Poverty Guideline which is the measure used to determine eligibility for most programs. New guideline information will be available on 2/1/12. Please download new packets for the most up-to-date income charts. For questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the winter months, set your thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night. You can save 3 percent on your heating costs for every degree you reduce the temperature below 70 degrees.
Special Advice to Heat Pump Owners: Heat pumps need to stay at a constant setting, unless you have a programmable electronic heat pump thermostat with adaptive recovery. Check with your heating or air conditioning contractor to determine the type of thermostat you have. For more conservation ideas visit: http://www.atlanticcityelectric.com/energy/conservation/tips/.