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DEC announces $3.1 million in Environmental Justice Community Impact Grant awards

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced $3.1 million in Environmental Justice Community Impact Grants for 32 community-based organizations to support projects that address environmental and public health concerns. Funding for the latest round of grants is provided by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund and builds upon New York’s ambitious efforts to advance Environmental Justice and implement the State’s nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, including significant investments to ensure a just transition from fossil fuels.

“Community Impact Grants support nonprofit, community-based organizations implementing a wide range of projects addressing multiple environmental concerns that adversely impact the quality of life in minority and low-income communities across the state,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “Governor Kathy Hochul and all of us at DEC remain committed to prioritizing Environmental Justice and working collaboratively with these grantees to advance sustainable solutions.”

Since 2006, DEC’s Office of Environmental Justice awarded more than $12 million in funding for 214 projects to help support communities facing a disproportionate burden of environmental pollution. This funding assists communities in developing and implementing programs that address environmental issues, harms, and health hazards, while building community consensus, setting priorities, and improving public outreach and education.

The Community Impact Grants were awarded to the following organizations:

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Capital District

Columbia Land Conservancy, Inc. $100,000
Oakdale Lake Improvement Project: Grant will implement water quality improvements at Oakdale Lake and collect data on the lake’s water quality;

South End Improvement Corporation $100,000
South End Community Impact Grant: Grant will help develop a green plan for the South End and engage with South End not-for-profits, the Port of Albany and others, to implement the plan;

Media Alliance, Inc. $100,000
Nurturing the NATURE Lab: Funding will help build capacity at the new NATURE Lab Environmental Education Center in North Central Troy, supporting community organizing efforts to address exposure to harms and risks including contaminated air, soil and water;

Radix Ecological Sustainability Center $100,000
Urban Ecosystem Justice and Forest Equity: Grant will expand the Ecojustice Associates Youth Employment Program, the development of South End Neighborhood Gardens, and the execution of a research project on the South End Biocultural Diversity Forest Project;

AVillage, Inc. $99,674
Innovation Blocks IV: Funding will extend training in leadership, advocacy, and outreach to develop relationships and communicate the complex challenges and opportunities for the community;

Central New York

NEHDA INC $66,618
Safe, Healthy, Stable Homes Workshops: The grant will help increase access to education, household testing, cleaning supplies, and information about community resources to help increase awareness of environmental hazards;

Finger Lakes New York

Taproot Collective $99,999
Gardening Together: Study and Action in Rochester NY: The Gardening Together project will identify ways to enhance the sustainability of urban gardens;

Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services, Inc. $99,360
Developing, Delivering and Assessing a Refugee Community-Crafted, Risk Communication Strategy for Fish/ Consumption Advisories in Rochester Embayment EPA Area of Concern: The funding will help engage students of refugee families to use a “Fish Flash Card Survey” to characterize risks of eating the most harmful and toxic species of fish;

Hudson Valley

Poughkeepsie Farm Project $100,000
Poughkeepsie Grows: Funding will help highlight Black and Latinx Poughkeepsie residents’ struggles, joys, triumphs, and personal connections to food, land, and wellness;

Sarah Lawrence College $100,000
Rising TIDES (Training Innovative and Diverse Environmental Scientists) and qPCR Research Program: The Rising TIDES Program will help address water pollution issues in Yonkers through youth education and engagement and research into sources of fecal bacteria pollution;

Long Island

Long Beach Latino Civic Association $100,000
SOFA Project (Suburban Organic Farming In Action): SOFA will listen, educate, and inform people from low-income communities about the importance of growing and eating organic produce to enhance their health;

Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, Inc. $100,000
Citizen Science Environmental Justice Investigation – The Health of Our Local Ecosystem: The Long Island Science Center will train a fleet of citizen scientists to conduct environmental investigations;

Mohawk Valley

Utica Neighborhood Housing Services Inc. $100,000
Utica Healthy Homes Neighborhood Assessment: The Utica Neighborhood Assessment will identify properties with environmental health and lead hazards; 

New York City

Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, Inc. $100,000
Shore Corps: Youth Internship and Workforce Development Program: The program will encourage participants to develop their leadership skills as ambassadors to the community on local environmental harms and public risks;

Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, Inc. $100,000
Mapping Air Quality and Public Health Outcomes in the South Bronx: The organization will conduct analysis of air quality data to determine correlation between South Bronx air quality and public health;

The Bronx is Blooming $100,000
The Program for Leaders Advancing their Community’s Environment (PLACE): The grant will help provide training in ecological principles, horticulture skills, invasive species management, tree stewardship, and leadership and by improving environmental health of local parks;

Van Cortlandt Park Alliance $100,000
Northwest Woods Project: Using Historical Data in the Forest to Plan for its Future: The funding will help restore six acres of forest within an urban woodland through invasive plant removal, native plantings, and trail work to reduce “desire lines;”

Fort Greene Park Conservancy, Inc. $100,000
Green Infrastructure Team at Fort Greene Park: Teens will study environmental justice and execute an infrastructure project in Fort Greene Park;

Neighbors Allied for Good Growth $100,000
Refresh: Community Health Responses to Indoor Air Quality and Local Air Pollution: The grant will help increase the focus on community health by building a network of awareness around indoor and outdoor air quality;

Loisaida, Inc. $100,000
Ecolibrium: Environmental Justice and Literacy through Community Science: The Environmental Justice and Literacy through Community Science initiative explores environmental toxins, climate change, the urban environment, and nature-based solutions;

Concrete Safaris, Inc. $100,000
Outdoor Leadership Academy TRANSFORMATIONS, Youth-Fueled Built Environment Change: 500 youth will be served with career readiness, professional development, environmental literacy, and stewardship projects within the gardens at the Jefferson and Washington houses; 

Gowanus Canal Conservancy, Inc. $99,998
Gowanus Canal Conservancy Urban Ecology Program: The grant will help the Conservancy conduct community science and public engagement to involve students in the role of constructed ribbed mussel habitat in mitigating coastal pollution;

Bronx River Alliance, Inc. $99,995
Hyperlocal Air Quality Monitoring in the South Bronx: The project will engage youth in the installation of five new air quality sensors in the South Bronx;

Human Impacts Institute $99,961
Urban Environmental Health Lab: Funding will support a new round of health and art fellows will work to explore the concept of a just transition to make environmental health data and sustainable advancements more accessible to the public;

Rocking the Boat, Inc. $98,938.28
Seaweed Farm: Bioextraction and Fertilizer, Youth and Community Education on the Bronx River: The grant will help confront environmental and social harm by making a stronger connection to the Bronx River and its restoration as a medium for environmental education and community benefit;

Newtown Creek Alliance, Inc. $99,607
Newtown Creek Cool Youth Fellowship: The Cool Youth Fellowship seeks to identify tangible solutions to the urban heat island effect through an environmental justice lens;

Outstanding Renewal Enterprises, Inc. $75,000
LES Food Justice Project: The funding will help use garden space to provide food, education, and green infrastructure;

Southern Tier

Volunteers Improving Neighborhood Environments Inc. $100,000
VINES Community Gardens Access for All Project: VINES will build community and home gardens, focusing on improving food access for immigrants and refugees;

Finger Lakes ReUse Inc. $90,291
ReUse Materials Access for Tompkins EJ Communities: The project will make reused materials of all types available to Tompkins County residents in need and research the carbon impact of providing reused materials to human service clients as an alternative to traditional gift cards or stipends to box stores with new materials;

Western New York

Groundwork Buffalo, Inc. $100,000
East Side Rising, Garden Beds: Groundwork Buffalo will be offering employment and training to provide fresh produce to local residents;

North Tonawanda Botanical Garden Organization, Inc. $99,580
North Tonawanda Botanical Garden Phase II Green Innovation Project: The project teaches residents and visitors about native plants and pollinators, water-wise practices, sustainable gardening, and environmental stewardship; and

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

Massachusetts Avenue Project Inc. $95,800
MAP’s Origins Project: Ensuring Soil and Water Safety for a Healthy Food System: The grant will help increase education and resources for safe soil and water practices for urban growers and community residents in Buffalo, while increasing healthy, affordable food access and jobs for young people.

The grants announced today are just the latest step the Governor is taking to build upon efforts like the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which requires the State to invest or direct resources to ensure that disadvantaged communities receive at least 35 percent, with the goal of 40 percent, of overall benefits of spending on clean energy and energy efficiency programs – one of several ways the Climate Act focuses on prioritizing climate justice. DEC is seeking comments on the draft Disadvantaged Communities criteria until Aug. 5, 2022, to guide the equitable implementation of Climate Act Investments. Last month, the Governor announced the launch of the historic statewide air quality and greenhouse gas mobile monitoring initiative that is deploying in areas overburdened by environmental pollution. Working in partnership with community-based organizations, the effort to map hyperlocal air pollution and greenhouse gases statewide at the community level is the largest ever undertaken by New York State. 

Funding for this grant program was provided by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), a critical resource for environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, recreation access, water quality improvement, and environmental justice projects. Among the many environmental victories in the enacted 2022-23 State Budget, Governor Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders increased the EPF to $400 million, the highest-ever level of funding in the program’s history.