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Urban Environmental Program in New England

2011 Healthy Communities Grant Program

In 2011, EPA New England's Assistance & Pollution Prevention, Asthma, Children's Environmental Health, Environmental Justice, Pesticides, Targeted Watershed, Tools for Schools, Toxics, and Urban Environmental programs are partnering to identify competitive projects that will achieve measurable environmental and/or public health results.

 


Application Guidance

2011 Healthy Communities Grant Program (PDF) (39 pp, 299 K, about PDF)



Project Summaries


Connecticut

Town of Stratford, CT
"Reducing Exposure to Residual Nicotine among Children in Stratford, CT" 
$25,000

Partners:  St. Vincent’s Medical Center; Stratford Board of Education; City of Bridgeport’s Department of Health and Social Services; Stratford Community Health Center and the Pediatric Asthma Program; State of Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Asthma Control and Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Programs

Summary:  A 2008 Stratford Child Health Assessment revealed that nearly 20% of children in Stratford are continually exposed to second or third hand smoke.  Environmental Tobacco Smoke is a common asthma trigger that can increase the frequency and severity of asthma episodes in children who lack authority over their immediate environment.  Third hand smoke & residual nicotine exposure (THS/RNE) is the residue from tobacco smoke that clings to virtually all surfaces long after a cigarette has been extinguished.  This project seeks to develop and implement a community marketing/outreach strategy about THS/RNE to be incorporated into existing asthma programs.  Project activities include conducting research on THS/RNE impacts and mitigation strategies, convening a toolkit planning committee to develop educational content, developing communication and marketing strategies, developing a plan for implementation of toolkit strategies into existing asthma and health programs, and disseminating the toolkit to the statewide regional Asthma partnership. 

Measurable Results:  Number of participants on planning committee; Number of presentations conducted; Number of participants at presentations; Number of organizations/providers implementing the toolkit; Number of participants enrolled in smoking cessation programs

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Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust
"Bridgeport East Side Healthy Homes Initiative"
$25,000

Partners:  Bridgeport Lead Free Families Program;Fairfield University School of Nursing Health Promotion Center (HPC); Optimus Healthcare Center; Fairfield County Environmental Justice Network; Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition; United Illuminating Company – Department of Energy Program

Summary:  Bridgeport’s East Side suffers from a large proportion of aging, abandoned, and dilapidated housing resulting in residents’ heightened exposure to environmental hazards such as mold, lead, roaches, dust mites, radon, and carbon monoxide.  Incorporated in 1986, Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust’s mission is to strengthen neighborhoods by embracing a comprehensive revitalization approach through advocacy, education, investment, and technical support.  This project seeks to conduct a targeted neighborhood approach to addressing environmentally related illnesses including: inhalant allergens that contribute to asthma triggers; and lead contamination that poisons young children.  Project activities include disseminating education materials to the community, providing Healthy Homes workshops, conducting train-the-trainer workshops, and conducting Healthy Homes interventions.

Measurable Results: Number of materials disseminated; Number of workshops; Number of participants; Number of Healthy Home interventions

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Maine

Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point
"Algae to Diesel Fuel Production in Backyard Bio-Reactors for Home Heating Oil"
$25,000

Partners: None

Summary:  The average life span of Passamaquoddy Tribal members is 54.5 years.  Respiratory diseases, including asthma, are among the leading causes of death.  Inversions during the winter months result in accumulation of vehicle exhaust, heating oil exhaust, and wood stove emissions that dramatically increase the number of asthma attacks.  The Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point was federally-recognized in 1976 and the Environmental Department was formally defined in 1994.  The Environmental Department’s mission is to preserve, protect, restore, and enhance all tribal lands, waters, air, and human health and to develop means to monitor and enforce tribal environmental policies.  This project seeks to build on an existing pilot project for producing home heating oil from algae in backyard reactors in order to reduce carbon and sulfur emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels, ultimately improving ambient air quality and lessening the impact on Tribal health.  Project activities include investigating continuous run centrifuging, belt dryer dewatering, and other techniques to determine the best de-watering system for backyard use, investigating techniques for algal oil extraction and diesel fuel production, completing a cost analysis and community benefits report, and providing training to tribal students on the bio-reactor and producing diesel fuel.  A video will also be produced to document the project. 

Measurable Results: Number of de-watering systems studied; Number of students trained; Number of video viewers

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Massachusetts

Ecumenical Social Action Committee, Inc.
"Boston Asthma Initiative"
$25,000

Partners: Trotter Elementary School

Summary: MassCOSH’s report "Who’s Sick at Home? Linking Poor Health Conditions and Health Disparities for Boston’s Children" based on research conducted in 2004-2005, the findings concluded that asthma is the number one chronic condition treated in Boston Public Schools, affecting between 7-12% of the student body in grades K-8 and that children of color are disproportionately impacted.  The Trotter School has a large incidence (36% of students) of children with asthma during the 2009-2010 schools year.  The Ecumenical Social Action Committee was incorporated in 1968 and is dedicated to ensuring the stability of neighborhoods and improving the quality of life for Jamaica Plain’s most vulnerable residents. This project seeks to provide a holistic integrated clinical and environmental approach to managing asthma for children in the City of Boston.  Project activities include conducting home visits, providing Open Airways education at Trotter School, conducting Asthma & IPM education workshops, and providing a cleaning demonstration.

Measurable Results: Number of home visits conducted; Increase in symptom-free days; Reduction in the number of emergency room visits; Number of children trained; Number of participants at cleaning demonstration

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Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH)
"Healthy Learning Environments for Asthma Prevention"
$24,999

Partners:  Healthy Homes and Schools Collaborative c/o HRIA; Boston Public Schools; Boston Public Health Commission; School Staff Unions; Boston Healthy Schools Task Force; Massachusetts Asthma Advocacy Partnership

Summary:  The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) promotes healthy workplaces and communities in eastern Massachusetts through education, coalition building, and advocacy.  This project seeks to achieve measurable reductions in environmental triggers, improvements in asthma management, and capacity to address environmental inequities in struggling schools.  Project activities include recruiting champions from within the top ten schools with high asthma rates and multiple environmental problems, training prospective champions on tools and techniques for identifying and eliminating asthma triggers, providing coaching and support to the champions to foster their maximum involvement, providing multi-media resources to enhance the knowledge and tools available to engage champions, hosting a forum with Boston City Council Asthma Taskforce to recognize champions, and sharing recommended policies and practices derived from findings with the champions with the Massachusetts Asthma Advocacy Partnership. 

Measurable Results:  Number of champions identified & recruited; Number of meetings hosted; Number of E-newsletters distributed; Number of materials created

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Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Environmental Protection
"MA/RI Municipal Stormwater Management Assistance Initiative"
$34,235

Partners:  Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management; Blackstone River Coalition; Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve; John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission

Summary:  The upper portions of Narragansett Bay have documented water quality impairments attributable to excess pollutant loadings from both point and non-point sources.  While significant progress has been made to address some of the sources of these pollutants, nutrients and pathogens transported by stormwater from impervious surfaces both upstream and bordering the Bay are still a significant pollution sources.  Towns in both RI and MA have taken steps to better manage stormwater.  However, these Towns do not have the resources needed to meet the demand for pollution reductions; have different needs for technical assistance; are attempting to promote and require more stormwater to be managed on site through Low Impact Development techniques; and will be changing local ordinances for land use developments and redevelopments. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is the state agency responsible for ensuring clean air and water, the safe management of toxics and hazards, the recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, the timely cleanup for hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and costal resources. This project seeks to improve the water quality of Narragansett Bay and its tributary rivers by improving the effectiveness of municipal stormwater management.  Project activities include creating and disseminating materials on the topics of adoption of local stormwater management rules, consideration of stormwater utilities, and how to reduce stormwater pollution to meet TMDL requirements, providing training on low impact development, and providing direct technical assistance on stormwater management to the 34 municipalities located within the Narragansett Bay watershed

Measurable Results: Number of training events; Number of municipalities participating; Number of towns completing the LID checklists

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New England

Health Resources in Action’s Asthma Regional Council of New England
"Promoting Purchaser Demand"
$35,000

Partners: New England State Asthma Programs, Asthma Regional Council Advisory Council and members

Summary:  Asthma continues to be a growing epidemic, with rates in New England considerably higher than rates than other regions: 9.7% (New England adults) vs. 8.1% (other U.S. Regions combined).  Surveillance of New England asthmatics in 2006 revealed that asthma symptoms in approximately two-thirds of adults and children are considered to be "not well" or "very poorly" controlled and twenty percent of adults with asthma reported that it limited their usual daily activities to a moderate or great extent.  The Asthma Regional Council of New England is a coalition of nearly 75 governmental, academic, health, and community organizations from across New England that seeks to tackle environmental contributors to pediatric and adult asthma, with a special focus on the most sensitive and vulnerable populations in the region.  This project seeks to reduce health disparities, and promote environmental justice and health and safety of low-income and minority populations in New England by increasing the demand for and thus financing/reimbursement of Asthma Services.  Project activities include creating a webinar series to increase NE State Asthma Program and other ARC member’s knowledge and capacity to promote alignment of employee health benefits with Asthma Services, developing an analytical tool to assist larger purchasers of health care to determine the benefits of expanding covered services for asthma,  updating resources on the ARC's website, hosting one region-wide ARC Council meeting, hosting a minimum of ten conference calls with the NE Asthma Programs, and hosting three ARC Advisory Committee meetings. 

Measurable Results:  Number of webinars and powerpoint presentations created; Number of webinar attendees; Number of contacts on email distribution list, Number of website hits; Number of attendees at ARC meetings; Number of conference calls hosted.

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New Hampshire

New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health
"Healthy Schools, Children, Minds"
$25,000

Partners:  NH Department of Education; National Education Association – NH Chapter; Council for Children & Adolescents with Chronic Health Conditions; NH Department of Environmental Services; Informed Green Solutions, Inc.; NH Asthma Control Program; Local Government Center; NH Department of Agriculture; Breath NH; Bridge the Gap LLC

Summary:  According to a NH Department of Education report issued in 2000, 39% of NH Schools reported poor indoor air quality, over 30% were more than 50 years old and reported maintenance, high energy usage and other problems, and at least 30% reported moisture problems.  Thus many schools buildings in NH are poorly maintained and under-resourced, exposing children to a variety of environmental health hazards.  The NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NH COSH) is a non-profit, worker-centered, educational and advocacy organization devoted to improving workplace health and safety in New Hampshire.  This project seeks to expand the Tools for Schools program statewide in order to increase a) school building maintenance assessment, b) reporting to the Department of Education, and c) school building environmental improvements.  Project activities include establishing a NH Healthy Schools Partner Network, creating an automated school building maintenance check-list and report, training healthy schools teams statewide, and incorporating a healthy school environments module into teacher certification and school professional development programs. 

Measurable Results: Number of participants in the NH Healthy Schools network; Number of meetings; Number of school maintenance checklists completed; Number of school districts trained in Tools for Schools; Number of Healthy School Environment modules offered

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City of Manchester Health Department
"Manchester Asthma Education and Outreach Program"
$24,999

Partners:  Child Health Services; The Way Home; Child and Family Services; City of Manchester Planning and Community Development Department; New Hampshire Asthma Control Program

Summary:  Of the 15,807 students in the Manchester School District during the 2008-2009 school year, 8.5% were listed on school medical alert lists for asthma.  Additionally, during 2001-2006, Asthma was among the most common causes of hospitalization in Manchester for children ages 5-17 years and adults of ages 18-64.  Established in 1885, the City of Manchester Health Department is a progressive and innovative municipal local health department grounded in the principles and application of the core public health functions – assessment, policy development, and assurance.  The overall mission is to enhance the community’s well-being through health promotion and disease prevention.  This project seeks to advance the Department’s existing comprehensive pediatric asthma education and outreach program through the official adoption and integration of a holistic healthy homes approach to environmental diseases.  Project activities include providing intensive home visiting and case management services to asthmatic youth and their families and mitigating environmental triggers in the home, implementing protocols/systems to support the formal integration of home visiting programs at Manchester Health Department, establishing a coordinated healthy homes referral network among local agencies that provide healthy homes related services, and exploring linkages with health care payer organizations and State-level programs to support long-term sustainability of healthy homes services.

Measurable Results:  Number of families developing/reviewing asthma action plans; Number of families receiving a comprehensive healthy homes assessment; Number/type of partnerships established; Number of referrals made to MHD to healthy homes partners; Number of referrals received by MHD from healthy homes partners. 

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Rhode Island

Childhood Lead Action Project
"Up to Code Providence"
$25,000

Partners:  RI Legal Services, RI Department of Health, Rhode Island Medical-Legal Partnership for Children, RI Chapter of the American Lung Association

Summary:  Childhood Lead poisoning and asthma continue to be serious health threats to Providence’s children.  Five percent of children entering kindergarten in Providence this fall have been lead poisoned at some point in their lives.  Nationally, asthma is the most common chronic condition in children, the third-ranked cause of hospitalization for kids under age 15 and one of the leading causes of school absences.  There is a keen awareness in the environmental health community that lead poisoning and child asthma prevention advocates have similar concerns about the impact of dilapidated housing on children’s health and there is a pressing need to address both these problems by improving housing code enforcement.  The Childhood Lead Action Project (CLAP) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1992 to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Rhode Island through education, parent support, and advocacy.  This project seeks to expand CLAP’s Get the Lead Out Coalition to expand their work on childhood lead poisoning to include childhood asthma in order to protect children from severe health outcomes resulting from mold, pests, lead hazards, or unsafe renovation practices.  Project activities include expanding CLAP’s Up to Code Committee – a project of the organization’s Get the Lead Out Coalition – to include child asthma prevention advocates, providing training and support to new committee members on lead/asthma, minimum housing code and lead-safe work practices, meeting with the Providence Lead Compliance Initiative Working Group to provide technical assistance, feedback, and other help as necessary, providing education and services to tenants and community organizations to discuss current efforts, strategize better coordination, and raise awareness about asthma and lead hazard complaint opportunities. 

Measurable Results:  Number of asthma prevention advocates participating; Number of meetings; Number of residents, community organization staff, and city officials educated; Decrease in childhood lead poisoning and asthma incidences; Reduction in lead hazards and asthma triggers. 

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Save the Bay
"Coastal Adaptation for Flood Hazard Reduction and Water Quality Improvement in the Upper Narragansett and Mount Hope Bay Watersheds"
$34,556

Partners:  Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District; Taunton River Watershed Alliance; Massachusetts Audubon Society; Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences

Summary:  Coastal communities in Rhode Island and Massachusetts are vulnerable to the effects of climate change and are already experiencing problems with coastal flooding and erosion, inland flooding and inundation, salt marsh die back, and the effects of increased storm runoff and storm intensity.  Much of the local infrastructure in these communities is at or just above sea level, including local roads, sewer facilities, water lines, homes, and recreational amenities.  Save the Bay was founded in 1970 by members of the community who wanted to protect Narragansett Bay.  Save the Bay protects and restores the ecological health of the Narragansett Bay region, including its watershed and adjacent coastal waters, through an ecosystem-based approach to environmental action; defends the right of the public to use and enjoy Narragansett Bay and its surrounding waters; and fosters an ethic of environmental stewardship among people who live in or visit the Narragansett Bay region.  This project seeks to assess coastal adaptation techniques that include salt marsh enhancement and protection, stormwater runoff abatement from roads, shoreline grading and retreat, redesigning undersized culverts, damn removal and disinvestment in road or other infrastructure in the coastal zone.  Project activities include assessing/mapping the risk and vulnerabilities of coastal infrastructure in the target sub watersheds with predicted changes in storms and sea level, assessing salt marsh vulnerability and stress, identifying problems with flooding and stormwater that are current and ongoing and that will likely get worse due to increased precipitation, sea level rise and falling or undersized infrastructure such as dams and culvers, providing towns with the tools to understand and begin to plan for adapting to predicted changes, and providing and mapping project examples.

Measurable Results: Number of workshops/presentations held; Number of volunteers, Number of adaptation strategies included in municipal planning documents, Number of areas assessed

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Rhode Island Natural History Survey
"Expanding Watershed Counts"
$29,209

Partners:  Narragansett Bay Estuary Program; Coastal Institute at URI; Blackstone Coalition; Taunton River Watershed Alliance; Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council; Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association; Friends of the Moshassuck for the Land & Water Partnership

Summary:  The Narragansett Bay watershed is changing.  State agency managers, legislators, and local officials need a shared set of freshwater quality goals and indicators that describe the changes caused by climate change, development and implementation of management actions.  Rhode Island Natural History Survey is an independent non-profit organization founded in 1994 to gather and disseminate information on Rhode Island’s animals and plants, geology, and ecosystems, to facilitate communication among the diverse people, agencies, and organizations interested in the ecology of Rhode Island.  This project seeks to develop consensus-based freshwater quality indicators for the rivers and streams of the Narragansett Bay watershed.  Project activities include examining and summarizing current water quality assessments, convening workshops with state/federal agencies, NGOs, and scientists to identify data needs and availability, assess water quality based on available data, synthesize and communicate findings, identify management successes and challenges, and articulate some key management strategies, create an overall Narragansett Bay watershed assessment, create assessments for selected sub-watersheds, and host presentation events in RI and MA around Earth Day 2012 and 2013. 

Measurable Results:  Increased understanding of freshwater quality issues, Number of workshops/presentations held; Number of participants; Number of reports created

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Vermont

Parks Place Community Resource Center
Contractor and Landlord Educational Outreach
$25,000

Partners: Vermont Housing and Conservation Board

Summary: Last year, the US EPA issued regulations requiring all landlords and contractors in the U.S. who work on certain types of housing or child-occupied facilities to be certified as being able to complete their work while avoiding further lead contamination.  Although Vermont has established lead laws, the state has no plans to implement or enforce the new EPA rules.  As a result, landlords and contractors are confused by new requirements, overwhelmed by certification procedures and reluctant to adhere to either set of guidelines.  Parks Place Community Center is a welcoming, accessible resource center that is home to health, education, employment, and social services programs.  Their Lead Safe Homes program works to eliminate childhood lead poisoning by education parents, landlords, and contractors about the risks of lead poisoning and the recognition and control of lead-based paint hazards during cleaning and renovation project.  This project seeks to reduce childhood exposure to lead contaminated dust during renovation and repairs.  Project activities include conducting EPA approved trainings for landlords and contractors for federal certification, conducting Vermont approved Essential Maintenance Practice trainings, educating the public about the dangers of lead based paint hazards and the increased risk of exposure during renovation and repair activities, and educating contractors and landlords about the new federal requirements when working on target housing and child-occupied facilities. 

Measurable Results:  Number of trainings held; Number of contractors and landlords certified in the RRP Rule; Number of landlords, contractors, and parents trained in lead safe work practices;

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