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Release Date: 12/04/2000
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office (617-918-1014)

BOSTON - The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency this week announced that Paddle Providence and Youth in Action of Providence are among six community groups in New England receiving a total of $83,500 in environmental justice small grants.

Paddle Providence received $15,000 to educate children and their families living along the Woonasquatucket River about the safe uses of the river and parks and the health issues associated with them. Paddle Providence will coordinate with the Providence Plan, Save the Bay, The National Parks Service and the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District to provide the education and to allow youth and families living along the river to canoe and kayak on the river in order to see how pollution affects their environment.

"All people have a right to a clean and safe environment," said Mindy S. Lubber, Regional Administrator of EPA New England. "EPA's environmental justice grants are about making sure that every community is able to tackle the environmental problems facing them. These two grants will help the residents of Providence understand environmental issues and take action on them."

"We are confident that this grant will help us improve the quality of life for children growing up along the Woonasquatucket River by teaching them how to safely enjoy and appreciate their environment," said Donna Baer, executive director of Paddle Providence.

Youth in Action of Providence received $3,500 for its Youth Environmental Technology Project, which will train 15 youth in computer mapping and its uses. The youth will be trained by computer mapping experts from the Providence Plan and the Urban Environmental Lab at Brown University. They will learn how to input data, and how to make this data accessible to the community. They will then go door-to-door to explain the information in different languages to residents and to compile a list of residents who want to be more involved with advocacy efforts.

"We are happy with EPA's commitment to the very important work the youth of this urban environment are doing," said Karen Feldman, executive director of Youth in Action. "The environmental justice problems are far from being solved and we hope the agency's support will continue in the future to help our youth continue the important work they are doing for our community".

EPA's Environmental Justice Small Grants, first given out in 1994, are meant to help ensure equal environmental protection, and the equal enforcement of environmental laws, rules, regulations, and policies for all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, culture, or income.

The following grants were also awarded:

In Massachusetts:

Nuestras Raices in Holyoke received $15,000 to train members of the community to conduct their own environmental health assessments and computer mapping. Four young adults, members of Americorps, will be trained to conduct basic environmental and health assessments, computer mapping, and to educate the community. They will be trained by staff of Nuestras Raices and the University of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Sciences.

The Campaign to Protect Chinatown in Boston received $15,000 to provide education on the immediate and long-term effects of pollution and construction and an understanding of local environmental justice problems. The goal of this project is to promote involvement and informed decision making on the part of Chinatown residents in issues concerning their environment.


The Casco Bay Estuary Project of the Muskie School of Public Service at The University of Southern Maine received $20,000 for a project to provide the first-ever available data on low income and ethnic populations in Casco Bay who are at risk due to subsistence shellfishing of polluted areas in Casco Bay. Local shellfish officers have noticed subsistence shellfishing in closed clam and mussel bed areas. There is no confirmed information available on who is eating the shellfish from polluted areas or how much they are consuming. This research project will help identify the population and consumption rates and will identify what health advisories are needed.

New Hampshire:

The Way Home of Manchester received $15,000 to educate low-income and minority households in Manchester on environmental problems within the home, including lead contamination and asthma triggers. The Way Home's project will integrate education with community coalition building to facilitate cooperation among landlords, tenants, and city health and building department officials to protect children from environmental health hazards in the home.