Up to $30,000 in Grants Available to Community-Based Projects Combatting Local Climate Change Issues through the EPA Environmental Justice Small Grants Program
Environmental catastrophes and public health epidemics can happen anywhere – from world-class cities, to small towns, and even in your own back yard. Unfortunately, they’re often preventable. Community-based organizations are typically best-suited to raise awareness about and craft preventive and responsive solutions to these issues. Recognizing the pivotal role that community-based organizations play, in 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) created the Environmental Justice (EJ) Small Grants Program. Since then, over the past twenty years, the EJ Small Grants Program has provided over $24 million to more than 1400 community-based organizations and local and tribal organizations working with local communities to solve environmental and public health issues, including land and water contamination, air pollution, energy efficiency, and brownfield restoration and redevelopment. Past EJ Small Grant Awardees in New York state include:
clean air–St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, Akwesasne, New York
In 2013, the EPA awarded an EJ Small Grant to the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe in Akwesane, New York, for its project aimed at educating the Akwesasne tribal community on indoor environmental asthma triggers. Members of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe suffered from above-average incidences of asthma and respiratory diseases which were linked to high exposure to indoor environmental toxins like radon, mold, household chemicals and smoke. With a grant from the EJ Small Grant Program, program coordinators disseminated vital information to the tribal community, provided audits of each home, and gave tailored solutions to improving air quality and lowering exposure to indoor environmental hazards.
–Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, Buffalo, New York
In 2012, the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York won an EJ Small Grant for its project, “Building Community Capacity to Reduce Air Pollution.” Buffalo is a major hub for local and cross-country freight, and consequently, the local community is disproportionately affected by air pollution caused by freight diesel exhaust. This project sought to inform and encourage local leaders to advocate for solutions to community exposure to diesel exhaust, particularly for the city’s low-income residents who live closest to the freight transport hubs.
–Onondaga Environmental Institute, Syracuse, New York
In 2011, the EPA awarded an EJ Small Grant to the Onondaga Environmental Institute for its project, “Our Water, Our Lives.” This project educated local high school students about various water pollutants and contaminants that affect human health and the local ecosystem. Onondaga Environmental Institute also partnered with another local organization, Orenda Springs, to provide students with the hands-on experience and advocacy skills necessary to become leaders in their community’s environmental justice movement.
–Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, Geneva, New York
In 2010, the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition partnered with the Citizens of Seneca County and Finger Lakes Zero Waste Coalition to develop the EJ Small Grant Project, “Training Mega-Landfill Neighborhoods to Lead Themselves in Air Quality Awareness and Environmental Stewardship, including Climate Change.” This project disseminated information to the local community about the environmental, health, and climate change impact of landfills, specifically, the Seneca Meadows Landfill in Geneva, NY. It also promoted community involvement, encouraging citizens, students, teachers, and community activists to work together to develop solutions to control, reduce, or eliminate air quality and land contamination hazards caused by the landfill.
For more information about these or other past EJ Small Grant Program awardees, visit the EJ Small Grants Program website.
This year, the EPA is targeting its support towards community-led initiatives aimed at combatting the risk and impact of climate change. The agency explains: “this year’s program will have a special emphasis on proposals supporting community-based preparedness and resilience efforts (community climate resiliency).” The EPA also announced a new commitment to awarding grants to organizations who have never before received a grant from the agency. For fiscal year 2015, the EJ Small Grant Program has been allocated $1.2 million, and plans to award a total of 40 grants (four grants in each of the ten EPA regions), in the amount of up to $30,000 each, for community organizations with compelling two-year project plans.
If you or someone you know is part of a community-based organization interested in developing a project to promote preparedness for or combat the negative effects of climate change in our community, encourage them to apply for the EPA Environmental Justice Small Grant Program. The EPA has also published this informational brochure aimed at helping local organization develop projects appropriate for the EJ Small Grant Program, and is offering pre-application assistance via phone on the following dates and times: Wednesday, October 15, 2014: 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. EST; Saturday, November 1, 2014: 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. EST; and Tuesday, November 18, 2014: 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. EST. To join the pre-application assistance call, dial 1-866-299-3188 and enter the code 202-564-1771 when prompted. Interested organizations, save the date: applications must be submitted by December 15, 2014.