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U.S. EPA Awards 2020 Environmental Justice Small Grants to Three California Organizations

Nationwide, Agency selects 12 organizations to receive funding

06/30/2020
Contact Information: 
Soledad Calvino (calvino.maria@epa.gov)
415-972-3512

SAN DIEGO – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that three California organizations will receive $30,000 each to address environmental justice issues in the San Diego area, Santa Clara River Valley and the Yurok Indian Reservation. The organizations announced today are among 12 organizations nationwide that were selected from the large pool of applicants. This funding is in addition to $1.5 million in grants awarded to 50 organizations nationwide in November 2019.

“Regardless of zip code, the EPA works day in and day out to provide clean air, clean water, and clean land to all Americans,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These grants further the Trump Administration’s commitment to support low-income and minority communities, providing critical infrastructure to areas with environmental justice concerns.”

Grants like these will help address the big challenges that many of California’s underserved communities face,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “EPA is committed to supporting local partnerships to advance the important work that creates a cleaner, healthier environment.”

EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grants program provides critical support to organizations that otherwise lack the funding and resources to address environmental challenges in underserved and overburdened communities. The grants will enable these organizations to conduct research, provide education and training, and develop community-driven solutions to local health and environmental issues in minority, low-income, tribal, and rural communities. The following California organizations will receive grants:

Environmental Health Coalition (San Diego): This project aims to educate and engage residents on air quality issues in their community and the resulting health risk. The organization seeks to empower the community to participate in governmental decision-making around air quality and support community-led air protection efforts. The project is taking place in Barrio Logan and Logan Heights, two areas largely impacted by air pollution in the San Diego region. Project activities include home assessments, installation of air monitors, and enrollment of approximately 20 residents in an air quality leadership training program.

Rural Community Assistance Corporation (Yurok Indian Reservation): The Yurok tribe recently formed a water board to govern the six water treatment systems they operate, which serve approximately 1,200 people. The project aims to provide training to new board members and give them the knowledge necessary to maintain Safe Drinking Water Act compliance and ensure a successfully functioning board. In addition to training in roles and responsibilities, the Water Boards Leadership Institute will offer the Yurok Tribe’s board the opportunity to develop the skills they need to understand local environmental and public health issues, practice short-term and long-term planning, and develop strategies for addressing new issues that arise.

One Step A La Vez (Santa Clara River Valley): The Environmental Justice Community Education Project will identify and develop youth leadership to engage the community in recognizing environmental threats in the Santa Clara River Valley/Heritage Valley. The project’s focus will be on finding and correcting those issues threatening safe drinking water, the Los Padres National Forest, the Santa Clara River and local soil quality, in addition to seeking out ways to reduce toxic substances in this rural, low-income, agricultural community. Project activities include quarterly educational presentations, the training of eight youth leaders, and the creation and dissemination of environmental justice videos through social media and text message to 1,000 teens in the community.

Seven of the 12 grantees selected nationwide work in communities that include census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones –economically-distressed communities where new investment may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Most often, those who reside near these sites are low-income, minority, and disadvantaged Americans. By focusing resources on these areas, we can multiply the impact of the tax incentive and attract even more economic development to these areas.

This month, as part of its 50th anniversary commemoration, EPA is highlighting some of the key state, tribal, international, non-profit, and private sector partnerships that have helped our nation further its progress toward cleaner air, water, and land. As one example, EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice coordinates with multiple partners that include federal and local government agencies, business and industry, and academia to help improve environmental and public health conditions of low-income and minority communities.

For more information on the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, including descriptions of previously funded grants and additional winners, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/environmental-justice-small-grants-program

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