United States Environmental Protection Agency
BOSTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that $1.5 million in competitive grants will be awarded to 50 organizations working to address environmental justice issues in their communities, including a $30,000 grant to the Housatonic Valley Association for a watershed restoration project in Danbury, Conn.
Fifty percent of the grants awarded will support communities with census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones – an economically-distressed community where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.
“Rural and disadvantaged communities are often disproportionately affected by environmental health risks, and at EPA we are working to reverse this trend,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These grants support the President’s initiatives to invest in and revitalize distressed communities. By supporting often overlooked, local organizations that understand the unique challenges that their communities face, we’re better able to put in place long-term solutions to improve the environment and health of underserved areas of the country.”
“These grants further EPA’s commitment to support communities across New England as they work to address critical environmental and public health issues,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. “Addressing environmental justice concerns is a priority for EPA and the projects funded by these grants will have long lasting benefits for years to come.”
Project information: The Still River Watershed Connections program engages local youth in the restoration of the Still River in order to build a sense of stewardship, teach valuable career skills, and provide a steady source of volunteers for watershed restoration projects. This project aims to support a significant expansion of the existing Connections program to reach 250 additional at risk youth many of whom live in neighborhoods close to the impaired Still River. Project activities include retooling a local high school’s existing aquatic science curriculum to integrate the Connections program; conducting student-led restoration projects along the Still River, and developing a paid summer job-training internship program. Interns will be hired to perform work on the four restoration sites, and 10 local high school science teachers will be trained in project-based learning methods and Still River watershed issues and will integrate that training into their courses. Project partners include the Danbury Public Schools, Danbury Youth Services, and Western Connecticut State University.
EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grants program provides critical support to organizations that otherwise lack the funding and resources to address environmental challenges in underserved and overburdened communities. The funding will help organizations in 27 states and Puerto Rico carry out projects that will:
- Educate residents about environmental issues that may impact their health.
- Collect data about local environmental conditions.
- Conduct demonstrations and trainings to shed light on those conditions.
- Work collaboratively to address environmental justice challenges in their communities.
For descriptions of each of the 2019 Environmental Justice Small Grant awardees’ projects, visit https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/environmental-justice-small-grants-program-project-descriptions-2019.
The grants will enable these organizations to conduct research, provide education and training, and develop community-driven solutions to local health and environmental issues in minority, low-income, tribal, and rural communities. Sixteen of this year’s environmental justice grant projects are in communities that are especially vulnerable to disasters.
Specific grant projects include: reducing exposure to lead and other water pollutants; developing green infrastructure and sustainable agriculture projects; implementing basic energy efficiency measures in low-income households; and increasing overall community resiliency.
For the second year in a row, EPA’s Urban Waters program provided $300,000 in funding toward some of the grant awards. Ten grants were awarded to communities focused on improving water quality.
This year EPA received 208 applications, which is the highest number since 2013. The grant awards provide approximately $30,000 per project for a one-year project period.
For more information on the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, including descriptions of previously funded grants: https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/environmental-justice-small-grants-program