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Environmental Justice

Air Projects

A sample of successful projects funded through the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program

Fostering Community Participation in Air Pollution Reduction Initiatives (Springfield, MA) (2012)

Partners for a Healthier Community Inc., a non-profit organization, created and executed the “Springfield Community Mobilization Project” in 2012 to foster resident participation in an air pollution reduction initiative in Springfield, Massachusetts. The project involved surveying 93 residents to learn about the community’s perception of the quality of air in their neighborhoods and on their ideas on how to improve their air quality. The project team learned that idling (operating a vehicle with the engine on while the vehicle is not moving) was a great concern for the Springfield community and prompted the launch of an air-monitoring project at five neighborhood schools. Air-monitoring results were presented at a community forum and a community action plan was created.

Project Accomplishments:

  • Over 350 residents educated on air pollution
  • Anti-idling signage posted near drop off areas at Springfield schools
  • 93 Residents surveyed on neighborhood air quality
  • 50 adults and 9 youth trained on environmental advocacy and leadership

Cleaner Air Through Energy Efficient Homes (Wichita, Kansas) (2013)

Sunflower Community Action, based in Wichita, Kansas, designed the “Cleaner Air Through Energy Efficient Homes, Education, and Leadership Training” project to educate low-income families of color about energy efficiency. The benefits of increased energy efficiency include lower individual utility bills and less demand for coal-generated electricity, which is a significant contributor to air pollution.  With the support of an Environmental Justice Small Grant in 2013, the project team trained community volunteers on home weatherization, visited homes in Wichita to provide weatherization services, and educated residents. The project team garnered participation and community support through 13 public meetings, social media, radio, and TV interviews.

Project Accomplishments:

  • 32 homes weatherized during the grant period (35 homes scheduled for weatherization post-grant implementation)
  • 1,330 residents educated on energy conservation
  • 21 community leaders trained on home weatherization methods

Helping Low-Income Families Identify & Address Environmental Hazards in their Homes (La Plata County, CO) (2013)

Indoor Air Quality refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants.  Understanding and controlling common pollutants indoors helps reduce the risk of indoor health concerns.  With a 2013 Environmental Justice Small Grant, community–based organization Four Corners for Resource Efficiency (4CORE) implemented the “Healthy Homes & Indoor Air Quality Education in LA Plata County, Colorado.” The project conducted outreach to low-income residents on environmental and health issues associated with unhealthy homes. 4CORE provided several healthy home educational and training workshops to help residents identify and address health and environmental hazards in their homes. Residents learned of strategies on how to reduce or prevent environmental risks at little or no cost and received free radon testing kits and carbon monoxide detectors. A majority of workshop participants committed to maintaining a health home following the workshops.

Project Accomplishments:

  • Over 300 residents educated on health risks associated with hazardous household chemicals, mold, dusts, radon, lead, carbon monoxide, and other environmental hazards
  • 44% of participants assessed their homes for radon
  • 57% of participants replaced or changed their furnace filter

Educating a Vulnerable Community on Asthma (Chicago, IL) (2013)

Asthma is a widespread health issue in Chicago’s Chinatown, an environmentally and economically disadvantaged community. Aiming to reduce asthma rates in Chicago’s Chinatown, Asian Health Coalition set up the “Chinatown Environmental Empowerment Project” in 2013. The project team designed a culturally-appropriate curriculum on asthma (explaining symptoms, effects, and triggers) and partnered with two non-profit organizations to hold educational workshops for Chinese-speaking community members. In addition, youth from a service agency were recruited and developed a video project on asthma triggers.

Project Accomplishments:

  • 260 community members educated on asthma and triggers of the illness
  • 4 bilingual healthcare workers trained to address asthma concerns in Chicago’s Chinatown
  • Asthma curriculum and video project developed

Youth Curriculum on Neighborhood Redevelopment into Action (Memphis, TN) (2013)

Memphis is a city with a significant number of abandoned buildings and neglected properties, and a heavy dependency on automobiles. Livable Memphis, a coalition of redevelopment organizations, created the “REAL Places in Your Neighborhood” project to engage and educate residents on the impacts of urban sprawl, air pollution, and quality of life in the low-income neighborhoods of Binghampton, Frayser and Hollywood Springdale. Supported with a 2013 Environmental Justice Small Grant, the project team developed and implemented an educational curriculum at local schools, facilitated student fieldwork, and completed a three-day community service project.

Project Accomplishments:

  • 61 students taught about urban planning, mapping, and the development history of Memphis
  • 3 public schools, 2 middle schools, and 1 high school informed about nearby neglected properties
  • 2 neglected properties beautified surrounding Soulsville Charter School

Reducing Exposures to Asthma Triggers and Pesticides in Luna County, New Mexico (2012)

There are many pollutants found indoors that can trigger asthma attacks.  Triggers are things that can cause asthma symptoms, an episode or attack or make asthma worse. In New Mexico’s Luna County, Ben Archer Health Center launched the “Breath Easy” project to educate residents on the triggers of asthma and ways to limit pesticide exposure. With the support of a 2012 Environmental Justice Small Grant, Ben Archer Health Center conducted healthy home assessments, provided recommendations to residents on improving the health conditions of their homes, and identified barriers to healthy home implementation. During home assessments the Center distributed allergy free pillowcases, refrigerator thermometers, cutting boards to prevent cross-contamination of food, and other items that help maintain a healthy home. The Center held a Worker Protection Standard training on pesticide exposure and safety for project participants who worked in area farms.

Project Accomplishments:

  • 150 healthy home assessments conducted
  • Distributed free allergy prevention items
  • Held a Worker Protection Standard training for farmworkers and their families