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Urban Environmental Program in New England

2014 Healthy Communities Grant Program

In 2014, EPA New England programs including Assistance & Pollution Prevention, Children’s Environmental Health and Clean, Green and Healthy Schools Initiative, Toxics, Urban Environmental Program, and Water Infrastructure (Stormwater, Wastewater, and Drinking Water) programs are partnering to combine available resources and competitively identify projects that will achieve measurable environmental and public health results in communities across New England.



Application Guidance

2014 Healthy Communities Grant Program (PDF) (31 pp, 344 K, about PDF)



Project Summaries


Maine

University of Southern Maine
Training and Technical Assistance to Increase Recycling and Initiate Food Composting
$25,000

Partners: Gorham School District; MSAD #51; South Portland School District; Westbrook School District; RSU73; RSU5

Summary:  The New England Environmental Finance Center (NE/EFC) is a research and service center located at the Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. NE/EFC works to research, publish, and extend creative approaches to environmental policy, protection and management, focusing especially on the questions of how to pay for needed environmental improvements. As municipalities seek to reduce the amount of trash that must be hauled to a landfill or a waste-to-energy facility, schools stand out as an untapped resource for helping communities remove organics and recyclables from the waste street. Over half of a school’s daily trash is generated in the cafeteria and approximately 50-60% of this trash consists of recyclable items and another 20-30% consists of organics. This project will train school staff about waste reduction methods so they can be coaches to the students who will implement waste reduction programs. Once the training is complete, schools will be provided with the necessary tools and information to train students, and will be offered technical support to solve operational difficulties, and assistance with tracking tools to quantify the waste reduction effort.

Measurable Results: Number of training materials developed; 30-50 school staff trained; Number of students trained; 15-40 site visits conducted to provide technical assistance; 15-40 trash separation programs launched; Increase in cafeteria’s recycling rate; Reduction in trash hauling fees.

EPA Project Officer: Margie Miranda

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Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission
Emergency Responsiveness to Extreme Weather Events in York County, Maine
$23,640

Partners: Maine State Police; York County Emergency Management Agency

Summary: The Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission (SMPDC) has been conducting economic development, environmental, land use and transportation planning and providing technical assistance to the municipalities in their region for over 50 years. The region includes 39 communities in York, southern Oxford, and Cumberland County and extends from the Maine coast to the White Mountains. The region is highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change and associated extreme weather events, particularly coastal York County with the beaches and infrastructure along the coast and central York County which has experienced several flooding events over the recent years. This project will design and conduct two local emergency preparedness workshops and tabletop exercises to test out community responses to events. The project will bring together partners, including first responders, emergency management personnel, private industry, water & waste water system managers, transportation planners, policy makers, and community members to identify barriers to emergency preparedness and resilience and promote response to extreme weather events.

Measurable Results: Number of exercise materials created; 2 public outreach materials created; 10 communities completing emergency preparedness exercises; Number of exercise participants; Creation of emergency preparedness guide.

EPA Project Officer: Ted Lavery

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Massachusetts

Partners for a Healthier Community
Decision Maker Advocacy
$25,000

Partners: Springfield Public Schools, Holyoke Public Schools-Kelly School, Springfield Health and Human Services, Holyoke Health Department , Holyoke Medical Center, Holyoke Health Center, Baystate High St. Pediatrics, American Lung Association of the Northeast, Springfield Family Resource Center, Baystate Pulmonary Rehabilitation, Elms College

Summary: Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition (PVAC) was founded in Springfield, Massachusetts in 2001 and consists of a variety of organizations (health care, housing, academic, social service, and advocacy) and community residents convened to improve asthma and environmental health conditions in Springfield and the Greater Pioneer Valley. PVAC has extensive experience conducting activities to improve home and school Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) through community-wide outreach and education efforts. Through this initiative, PVAC will expand its advocacy to school decision makers to create a school-wide understanding of the specific strategies to improve indoor and outdoor air quality at schools. This initiative will reduce asthma triggers and improve overall air quality to benefit student attendance and improve overall academic performance.

Measurable Results: 2 presentations to school leadership per district; 20 school leaders participating; 2 presentations to parent groups per district; 5,000 parents/caregivers of children with asthma that receive materials; 2 parents/caregivers per district who participate in advocacy efforts with school leadership; 8 Open Airways sessions presented to students.

EPA Project Officer: Jessica Hing

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Massachusetts Workforce Alliance
Green Infrastructure & Community Benefits
$25,000

Partners: Groundwork Somerville, City of Somerville, LEED AP, Land Escapes

Summary: Massachusetts Workforce Alliance (MWA) is a statewide alliance of diverse coalitions, organizations and individuals that are united in their focus on improving the lives of low-income people through education and training that allows them to get career ladder jobs that pay family sustaining wages. Just over four square miles in area, Somerville, MA is the densest city in New England. Somerville is home to more than 72,500 residents—an urban area in which buildings or impervious paving cover over 70% of the city’s land and where it is estimated that over 50% of yearly precipitation becomes runoff, with this number rising during storm events. The Green Infrastructure and Community Benefits for Somerville Project will build on MWA’s previous work to promote storm water management. This project will culminate in the installation of an educational rain garden on or near the campus of the Mystic River Housing Development. The rain garden will highlight the multiple benefits of green infrastructure (GI) with an emphasis on economic development and job creation, as well as improvements to the environment and public health.

Measurable Results:  3 meetings hosted with community stakeholders; 15f residents and 2 businesses exposed to the green infrastructure concept; 2 CBOs trained; 3,000 gallons of rainfall captured.

EPA Project Officer: Margie Miranda

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Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health
Healthy Learning Environments
$17,000

Partners: Boston Healthy Homes and Schools Collaborative; Boston Public Schools; Boston Public Health Commission; School Staff Unions; Boston Healthy Schools Task Force; Massachusetts Department of Public Health; 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. Results from Boston’s annual school environmental audits documented environmental triggers such as mouse infestations, leaks, dust, and an increasingly unmet need for repairs. This project will improve public health by improving physical environmental conditions in schools and homes by reducing or eliminating asthma triggers that impair human health and can impact quality of life. MassCOSH and partners have a strong network of Boston Healthy School Champions and a solid foundation within the Boston Public Schools to promote healthy school environments and improvements in asthma management. This project will expand the number of champions and providing training/support as they implement “best practice” healthy schools actions. The project will also replicate this model across the state by providing train-the-trainer workshops at the request of the MA Department of Public Health’s Division of Prevention and Wellness.

Measurable Results: 7-10 of schools participating; 5,000 students benefitting; 500 school staff benefiting; 1,000 students with asthma that have improved health and reduced absences150 stakeholders trained; 20 of champions recruited in schools.

EPA Project Officer: Jessica Hing

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Blackstone Headwaters Coalition
Stormwater Benefits of Urban Trees
$25,000

Partners: Worcester Tree Initiative; Worcester DPW and Forestry Department; Main South CDC; Qunsigamond Village Neighborhood Association

Summary: The Blackstone Headwaters Coalition (BHC) is comprised of local watershed groups, environmental groups, colleges and universities, businesses, local and state environmental agencies, and interested individuals. The BHC coordinates efforts to develop stream teams, assists with the volunteer water quality monitoring program, provides technical expertise, conducts education and outreach programs, and builds capacity in the local watershed groups. All of the waterways in Worcester, MA are headwater tributaries to the Blackstone River and all are greatly impacted by stormwater runoff due to the city’s industrial history. This project will engage residents of two inner city neighborhoods in Worcester to understand the role that trees play in reducing stormwater flooding. One hundred trees will be planted in the Main South and Quinsigamond Village neighborhoods, education and outreach will be provided on the benefits of trees, water quality information and the impact of stormwater on water quality.

Measurable Results: 100 trees planted; 200 households reached; Number of brochures distributed; 4 meetings hosted; Number of meeting attendees.

EPA Project Officer: Margie Miranda

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The Neighborhood Developers
Chelsea Works
$25,000

Partners: Massachusetts General Hospital, Chelsea HealthCare Center; City of Chelsea

Summary: The Neighborhood Developers is a community development corporation working to create vibrant and healthy neighborhoods that benefit low-income residents and a strong community. The Neighborhood Developers are engaging in integrative programming with public, private, non-profit partners, and the residents they serve to develop more holistic solutions to complex problems. Poor physical conditions, including the asthma triggers of mold, dust, and pest infestations contribute to an extraordinarily high incidence of high risk childhood asthma in Chelsea. Children in Chelsea are 55% more likely to have an asthma related hospitalization than children across Massachusetts. This project will pilot and test three approaches to community-based asthma health education, targeting primarily low-income, largely immigrant households. City code inspectors will be trained to complete asthma trigger assessments and a healthy home rehabilitation support program will be developed to include new property maintenance and rehab resources that are cost effective for the many low-income property owners to mitigate the systemic asthma triggers associated with unhealthy homes.

Measurable Results: 75 individuals trained; 25 homes assessed; Number of assessments requiring follow-up action; 750 inspections conducted; Number of code violation tickets issued; Number of code violations cured; Number of inspectors trained; Reduction in asthma related hospitalizations, urgent care and/or emergency room visits.

EPA Project Officer: Marybeth Smuts

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Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Above Ground Storage Tanks near Merrimack River Drinking Water Intakes
$25,000

Partners: Massachusetts Department of Fire Services (DFS), Division of Fire Safety

Summary: The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) is one of five agencies under the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs. MassDEP serves as the guarantor of the people’s right to clean air, water and the natural scenic, historic and aesthetic qualities of the environment. MassDEP’s Drinking Water Program will partnering with the Division of Fire and Safety (DFS) on this project. DFS has regulated above ground storage tanks (ASTs) with storage capacity of more than 10,000 gallons of fluid, other than water, since 1919. The goal of this project is to protect public health and the environment by identifying, reducing and planning for chemical risks from commercial ASTs with a storage capacity fewer than 10,000 gallons of fluid. This project directly aligns with MassDEPs work to address gaps in protection programs; to conduct Source Water Protection outreach on best management practices, communication, and emergency planning; and to provide local environmental information in a timely manner to diverse audiences.

Measurable Results: Number of internal reviews; Spreadsheet developed of information on commercial ASTs; GIS Map of AST locations within study area; Number of publications distributed; Number of evaluations collected; Qualitative results of evaluation summarized.

EPA Project Officer: Ted Lavery

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Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation
Fairmount Corridor Bus Shelter Living Roofs Initiative
$25,000

Partners: Fairmount/Indigo Corridor Collaborative, Land Escapes Design Inc.

Summary: Since 2004, the Fairmount/Indigo Line CDC Collaborative has been organizing with hundreds of residents, small businesses and community partners to create more healthy, vibrant and sustainable communities linked by the Fairmont Commuter Rail Line that runs through three Boston neighborhoods – Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park. The Collaborative is creating new “Urban villages” near the line – integrating new housing, commercial uses, open space and jobs centers all within walking distance to the rail stations. The Living Roofs Bus Shelter Initiative will install green roofs on top of city-owned/or MBTA-owned bus shelters in different key locations along the Fairmount Line. Local youth will be trained to do the installations and maintenance for one year. The Living Roofs are a creative and eye-catching way to help educate local residents about ways to make our communities more sustainable through new “greening” strategies. The overall goal of this initiative is to use the installations as models to demonstrate what impacts green infrastructure can have in urban conditions on many types of impermeable surfaces such as building roofs and exterior walls, streets, sidewalks, and more. Through this expanded pilot initiative the Collaborative will meet its goal of increasing the filtering and reduction of storm water that directly enters the City of Boston’s existing infrastructure in these low-income communities of color.

Measurable Results: 3 training sessions; 4 bus shelter living roofs installed; 2 workshops conducted; Number of youth participating; Number of community resident participants.

EPA Project Officer: Margie Miranda

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New Hampshire

Nashua Regional Planning Commission
Holistic Water Resiliency Planning Project
$24,997

Partners: None

Summary: The Nashua Regional Planning Commission provides its member communities with comprehensive planning services addressing environmental, land use, transportation, and regional planning issues, as well as offering mapping and data services that utilize the latest technologies. The organization has discovered that the traditional hazard mitigation planning process does not adequately allow municipalities to address the impacts of climate change and water resiliency. Climate change in southern NH will impact the environment, ecosystem services, economy, society, and quality of life and municipalities must make sound decisions to help their communities adapt to new climate conditions. This project seeks to help municipalities become more resilient to the impacts that climate change has on their water infrastructure and vulnerable populations. A regional vulnerability assessment of local assets and resources will be conducted and the results will be analyzed to identify priority assets, actions, and planning needs as well as deficits in data, information, and/or process. In addition, a Regional Water Resiliency Action Plan will be developed including an implementation table with recommendations, timeframe, responsible party, and estimated costs. g a healthy school environments module into teacher certification and school professional development programs. 

Measurable Results: Completion of vulnerability assessment; Creation of Water Resiliency Action Plan; Creation of Implementation Table for Regional Water Resiliency Action Plan.

EPA Project Officer: Ted Lavery

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Rhode Island

Childhood Lead Action Project
Community Lead Poisoning Prevention Initiative
$25,000

Partners: Blackstone Valley Community Action Program; City of East Providence; East Bay Community Action Program; Rhode Island Medical-Legal Partnership; RI Department of Health

Summary: The Childhood Lead Action Program is a nonprofit organization working to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Rhode Island through education, parent support, and advocacy. They are the only organization in the state devoted primarily to this critical children’s environmental health issue, coordinating community-based education campaigns for urban communities seriously affected by lead poisoning and mobilizing citizens to work for environmental justice. This initiative builds on the existing education, training, and community-building efforts in Providence and expands the work to East Providence and Pawtucket, communities with higher than average rates of lead poisoning in the state. In these two communities, more than 1 in 10 children entering kindergarten in the fall of 2015 have been identified with elevated blood lead levels (5 mcg/dL or higher). This project seeks to convene stakeholder groups in each community to plan, implement, and evaluated the activities necessary to bring the cities into alignment with the laws and regulations that govern lead. Education will be provided to city officials with lead enforcement responsibilities to help improve their understanding of the state’s Lead Hazard Mitigation Act and EPA’s Renovation, Repair, & Paining Rule (RRP), and outreach and education will be provided to contractors and others performing renovation or repair on properties in Pawtucket and East Providence to increase their understanding of the RRP Rule and the importance of following lead-safe work practices.

Measurable Results:  10 municipal officials trained on RRP rule; 20 community stakeholders engaged; Number of workers/property owners seeking permits for renovation projects; 2 RRP trainings hosted; Number of participants at RRP trainings.

EPA Project Officer: Sandra Brownell

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Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council
Developing a Green Infrastructure Installation Training and Certification Program
$25,000

Partners: The RI Stormwater Coalition; Groundwork Providence; Environmental Justice League of RI; RI Nursery and Landscape Association

Summary: The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council (WRWC) was established in 2001 to encourage, support, and promote the restoration and preservation of the Woonasquatucket River Watershed as an environmental, recreational, cultural, and economic asset of the State of Rhode Island. One ways to restore water and habitat quality in the Woonasquatucket is to capture and treat stormwater before it enters the river. As a coastal state, Rhode Island will experience an increased frequency of storm events and nor’easters. In Providence, RI, built-out and impervious cover have led to serious water quality impairments and flooding as it sits at the head of Narragansett Bay. This project will develop a collaborative training and certification program for green infrastructure for entry level green infrastructure construction jobs. Once the program is developed, a pilot will be conducted with local youth and will culminate with the installation of a green infrastructure project that will benefit a Providence neighborhood.

Measurable Results: Creation of training program, 10 River Ranger trainees participating; 2 installation sites; Number of presentations.

EPA Project Officer: Margie Miranda

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Vermont

Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, Mobile Home Program
Emergency Planning & Exercising for Resilient Mobile Home Park Communities
$25,000

Partners: University of Vermont, Center for Rural Studies

Summary: The Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) is a nonprofit corporation formed in 1965 to carry out the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 in Vermont’s Northwest Counties of Addison, Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle. The Mobile Home Program is one of three Coordinated Statewide Housing Services. Mobile home park residents are often disconnected from community emergency planning and have little experience participating in community meetings or boards and are not aware of many issues related to the Waters of the United States. At least 20% of Vermont’s mobile home parks have at least one mobile home located in a flood hazard area and may be impacted by new definitions determining waterways in the country. The CVOEO engages mobile home parks in developing and exercising park emergency plans in partnership with the University of Vermont (UVM) and with technical assistance from the Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. The Mobile Home Program/UVM has developed an emergency planning template that park residents will use to identify risks and resources, increase understanding of potential impacts from the Waters of the United States, and coordinate plans internally and externally. The goal of this project is to increase the resilience of mobile home park communities, empower residents to identify community hazards/vulnerabilities, understand potential implications from the Waters of the United States, and plan for emergencies through capacity building and technical assistance.

Measurable Results:  5 vulnerability assessments completed; Number of residents participating; 400 households impacted; Number of municipal emergency management directors utilizing park emergency plans from park communities to inform their planning efforts.

EPA Project Officer: Stacey Johnson-Prigeon

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Northeast Recycling Council
Creating Healthy Communities through Food Recovery & Composting in Vermont
$25,000

Partners: Vermont Agency of Natural Resources; Chittenden Solid Waste Management District; Rutland Solid Waste Management District; Lamoille Solid Waste Management District; Vermont Small Business Development Center, Environmental & Regulatory Assistance Programs (Green Hotels/Green Restaurants)

Summary: Northeast Recycling Council, founded in 1987, works to advance an environmentally sustainable economy by promoting source and toxicity reduction, recycling, composting, and the purchasing of environmentally preferable products and services. Staff is works with diverse stakeholders to plan and implement projects related to these issues. In 2011, more than 36 million tons of food waste was generated, 96% of which was disposed in landfills or incinerators. Food scraps contribute a substantial portion of methane emissions generated by landfills and represent a significant opportunity for emissions reduction due to the large quantities of food that is disposed in landfills. This project will decrease food waste and disposal in Vermont by recruiting participants in the hospitality industry to implement food reduction, recovery, and composting. Additional venues will be recruited to join the EPA Food Recovery Challenge.

Measurable Results: 15 venues participating in the Food Recovery Challenge; 6 venues implementing a diversion program; Number of trainings hosted; Number of training materials created/distributed. 6 waste assessments conducted; 6 Food Waste Management Plans completed

EPA Project Officer: Margie Miranda

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