Five New England nonprofit groups have been selected to receive an EPA Environmental Justice (EJ) Small Grant award. All five award recipients will carry out a project that forms collaborative partnerships, educates the community, develops a comprehensive understanding of the local environmental and/or public health issues and identifies ways to address these issues at the local level. Each grant is worth up to $25,000.
The EJ Small Grants Program is designed to help communities understand and address their exposure to multiple environmental harms and risks. The long-term goals of the grant program are to help build the capacity of an affected community and create self-sustaining, community-based partnerships that will continue to improve local environmental in the future. This year’s recipients are the following:
Project: Safe Soil: Gardening in Lawrence, Mass.
Groundwork Lawrence seeks to educate low-income Lawrence residents about the dangers of gardening in contaminated soil as well as steps to take to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals.
The project will educate low-income Lawrence residents about the dangers of gardening in contaminated soil, steps they can take to reduce their exposure, composting and practices they can follow to grow produce organically.
The grant recipient will work with their partner organizations to amend the contaminated soil in one of the vacant lots currently being used for gardening by those living nearby who grow food in an effort to feed their families.
The Way Home, Inc.
Project: Integrating Tenant Services in Pest Management in Manchester, N.H.
The Way Home, Inc. seeks healthier solutions for chronic pest problems in low income rental housing. Using this grant, The Way Home, Inc. will help low income tenants in Manchester, N.H. and property owners understand healthier alternatives for pest control through education and support services.
The project targets multifamily residential buildings and seeks to reduce tenant exposure to pest infestations that may cause asthma in children, allergic reactions, and may result in other significant effects on human health.
Modeled after the approach used by Boston Public Housing, the project aims to teach residents effective communication techniques, empowering them with information to become successful advocates for their communities.
JSI Research and Training Institute
Project: Latino Youth Lead Environmental Awareness and Action in Lawrence, Mass.
JSI Research and Training Institute seeks to serve at risk populations and to empower low-income Latino youth.
The project will be conducted jointly by the JSI Center for Environmental Health Studies of the JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) and the Centro de Apoyo Familiar/Center for Assistance to Families (CAF) and build on a prior successful joint JSI/CAF Healthy Communities project Casas Sanas Niños Sanos: Healthy Homes Healthy Children funded by EPA. JSI and CAF will engage and train youth from five Latino churches located in neighborhoods across the city of Lawrence to build their capacity to take a leadership role in conducting environmental education programs among church members on toxic exposures in the home that affect health, particularly the health of children. It will build on the skills of a set of smart and talented youth eager to make a difference in improving environmental conditions in their homes and community.
Partners for a Healthier Community
Project: Community Air Mobilization Project in Springfield, Mass.
Partners for a Healthier Community is committed to building a measurably healthier Springfield through civic leadership and collaborative partnerships.
The goal of this project is to foster full resident participation in efforts to reduce air pollution and other environmental risks in Springfield and to create the infra-structure to ensure that this occurs on a long term basis.
Through outreach to these communities via the city-wide Healthy Environment, Healthy Springfield (HEHS) EPA CARE initiative, city residents have called for more opportunities to: 1) receive education and information on air pollution in the neighborhoods they live in and, 2) take action to reduce air pollution in their neighborhoods. This project will address this need by working with neighborhoods to create infrastructure to educate and empower their residents to take action as there is currently no infra-structure to support this needed neighborhood level environmental action.
Regional Environmental Council
Project: Weatherize Worcester: Community Mobilization for Weatherization and Energy Efficiency in Worcester, Mass.
Regional Environmental Council seeks to empower low-income residents in Worcester on how to utilize energy credits from the City of Worcester.
The project will help residents of Worcester, Mass. develop an understanding about energy efficiency and weatherization as an environmental justice issue. It will educate and empower residents to become advocates for change on energy issues. The project will provide residents with resources and information to be able to access local and state energy efficiency programs to reduce carbon emissions.
Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income in the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.
EJ Small Grant program (http://www.epa.gov/compliance/environmentaljustice/grants/ej-smgrants.html#applications)
EJ Issues in New England (http://epa.gov/ne/ej/index.html)