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Biden-Harris Admin’s $600M Boost for Environmental Justice Projects

Biden-Harris Admin’s $600M Boost for Environmental Justice Projects

Environmental Justice
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Grantmakers selected to reduce barriers to federal funds and issue thousands of environmental justice grants over the next three years

As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the Biden-Harris Administration announced on Wednesday $600 million for 11 selected Grantmakers under EPA’s Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaking program, created by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the largest investment in climate action in history. This new grant program, which will make it easier for small community-based organizations to access federal environmental justice funding, responds to community feedback about the need to reduce barriers to federal funds and improve the efficiency of the awards process to ensure communities that have long faced underinvestment can access the benefits of the largest climate investment in history. Communities will be able to apply to a Grantmaker for a subgrant to fund a range of different environmental project activities, including (but not limited to) small local clean ups, local emergency preparedness and disaster resiliency programs, environmental workforce development programs for local jobs reducing greenhouse gas emissions, fenceline air quality and asthma related projects, healthy homes programs, and projects addressing illegal dumping.

President Biden is delivering the most ambitious environmental justice agenda in our nation’s history. Vice President Kamala Harris and EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan were joined by Dr. Robert Bullard, a Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Texas Southern University to announce the historic Grantmaker awards.

Every person has a right to drink clean water, breathe clean air, and live in a community that is healthy and safe,” said Vice President Kamala Harris. “For too long, however, low-income communities, immigrant communities, Native communities, and communities of color have endured disproportionate levels of air, water, and soil pollution. That is why President Joe Biden and I have put equity at the center of our nation’s largest investment in climate in history. The announcement puts that commitment into action by ensuring critical resources to fund environmental justice projects across the country reach the organizations that know their communities best.

For years, community advocates have been calling for federal support and resources to help address our country’s most pressing environmental justice concerns,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Thanks to President Biden and Vice President Harris’ leadership, we’re responding to these calls by removing barriers that have traditionally held communities and applicants back from accessing these historic investments in America. Together, in partnership with these Grantmakers, we are taking a giant step toward a future where every person in America has equal opportunity to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live a healthy, productive life.

The Grantmakers will work in collaboration with EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights to issue subgrants to community-based nonprofit organizations and other eligible organizations representing disadvantaged communities. The 11 Grantmakers will design comprehensive application and submission processes, award environmental justice subgrants, implement tracking and reporting systems, and provide resources and support to communities. The subgrants are expected to become available by summer of 2024.

The 11 Grantmakers consist of regional selectees (i.e., Regional Grantmakers) who will issue subgrants to communities in specific EPA Regions, as well as national selectees (i.e., National Grantmakers) who will provide additional support, coordination, and oversight to the subgrantees, applicants, and the Regional Grantmakers themselves, as well as issue additional subgrants to fill potential gaps in the regions. Ten Grantmakers are receiving $50 million each with one selectee, Research Triangle Institute, receiving $100 million to serve as both a Regional Grantmaker serving communities in EPA Region 4 and as a National Grantmaker in which part of their responsibility is providing subgrants to communities in EPA Region 7. Collectively, the 11 Grantmakers will issue thousands of subgrants to disadvantaged communities over the next three years. 

EPA has selected the following nine organizations to serve as Regional Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmakers:

  • Health Resources in Action, Massachusetts (EPA Region 1)
  • Fordham University, New York (EPA Region 2)
  • Green & Healthy Homes Initiative Inc., Maryland (EPA Region 3)
  • Research Triangle Institute, North Carolina (EPA Region 4)
  • The Minneapolis Foundation, Minnesota (EPA Region 5)
  • Texas Southern University, Texas (EPA Region 6)
  • JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc., Colorado (EPA Region 8)
  • Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE), Inc., California (EPA Region 9)
  • Philanthropy Northwest, Washington (EPA Region 10)

In addition, EPA has selected three National Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmakers, including:

  • Institute For Sustainable Communities, Vermont (EPA Regions 1-3)
  • Research Triangle Institute, North Carolina (EPA Regions 4-7)
  • Climate Justice Alliance, California (EPA Regions 8-10)

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Grantmakers are expected to begin opening competitions and awarding subgrants by summer 2024. Community-based nonprofit organizations and other eligible organizations seeking subgrant funding will be able to apply for subgrants through three concurrent tiers offered by the Grantmakers. Tier One will consist of grants for $150,000 for assessment, Tier Two will consist of grants for $250,000 for planning, and Tier Three will consist of grants for $350,000 for project development. In addition, $75,000 will be available for capacity-constrained community-based organizations through a noncompetitive process under Tier One. Each Grantmaker will design and implement a distribution program best suited for their region and communities.

The Grantmakers program is part of the Federal Interagency Thriving Communities Network and delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative which set the goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. Grantmakers will work in collaboration with the Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers  to create a robust support network to assist eligible entities when applying.


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