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New Haven Conn. Group Awarded EPA Grant to Help Air and Water Issues

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David Deegan (

BOSTON - A Connecticut organization working to address water and air pollution issues in New Haven was one of three groups in New England to receive an EPA grant award of $30,000 each, to help communities directly address local environmental concerns.

The New Haven Urban Resources Initiative won the Environmental Justice Small Grant award for a project that involves planting trees and taking care of community parks, as well as maintaining landscaped areas called "bioswales" that are designed to drain silt and pollution from surface water runoff. Tree plantings will be targeted for low tree canopy areas in underserved neighborhoods.

The Initiative's GreenSkills program will address local air and water quality issues in New Haven, and also will provide green job training for about 38 New Haven residents. The New Haven area suffers from both water and air pollution due to combined sewer overflows and high levels of particulate matter in the air. The program hopes to plant 500 street trees, engage 300 residents to take care of the trees, and maintain 20 bioswales.

"When the community takes part in protecting the environment, the changes are more sustainable," said Deb Szaro, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "EPA provides funding so these communities can participate in protecting their own environments."

EPA's Environmental Justice Small Grants provide critical support to organizations that otherwise lack the funding and resources to address the environmental challenges in their community. The 2017 grants will help organizations in 30 states, and Puerto Rico, carry out projects that will educate residents about environmental issues that may impact their health, collect data about local environmental conditions, and work collaboratively to address environmental justice challenges in their communities. Environmental justice means the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race or income, in the environmental decision-making process.

The grants support activities that not only address a range of community concerns, but also support activities that educate and empower youth and the next generation of leaders in STEM-related job sectors and environmental stewardship. Specific grant projects will focus on reducing exposure to lead and other water pollutants, developing green infrastructure and sustainable agriculture projects, implementing basic energy efficiency measures in low-income households, and increasing overall community resiliency.

Nationally, 36 non-profit and tribal organizations received a total of nearly $1.2 million for projects that address environmental justice issues. The other New England awards, both in Rhode Island, went to:

  • Groundwork Rhode Island for a project to work closely with the Central Falls High School, to develop a youth-based environmental program focused on stormwater management, green infrastructure, public green space, trees, and solid waste disposal.
  • The Childhood Lead Action Project for a project called the Lead-Safe Blackstone Valley that will work in three of Rhode Island's high risk communities to reduce the incidence of childhood lead poisoning, improve the safety of rental housing, and increase the capacity of Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Woonsocket residents to address lead issues.

EPA's Environmental Justice Small Grants Program is designed to help communities understand and address exposure to multiple environmental harms and risks, and funds projects up to $30,000 a year.

More information about EPA's Environmental Justice Small Grants Program (