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Administrator Wheeler Announces Selection of Awards for $320,000 in Environmental Justice Grants to Minnesota

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Minneapolis, Minn. (September 28, 2020) — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede announced the selection of awards for $320,000 in environmental justice grants to the City of Minneapolis and Youthprise. The grants are part of 28 environmental justice grants selected for award by EPA this year.

“The EPA is reorienting itself toward a community-driven environmentalism that helps communities become healthier and more self-sufficient, so boosting environmental literacy for at-risk youth is an obvious way to help,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Training the next generation of environmental stewards helps Minneapolis, Minnesota, and America become cleaner, healthier places.”

“We’re proud to continue finding new ways to work with the communities here in the region, and these grants are a great example of how we can help at the local level,” said Regional Administrator Kurt Thiede. “We are always stronger when we are working together, and this effort reflects our commitment to work hand-in-hand with those working to improve their environment.”

Administrator Wheeler announced the selection of a $200,000 State Environmental Justice Cooperative Agreement (SEJCA) award for the City of Minneapolis. This SEJCA funding specifically aims to help states and tribes improve the environment and public health conditions of low-income and minority communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The main objective of this project is to provide education on lead paint hazards, home-based asthma triggers and proper use of disinfectants in a home environment especially related to COVID-19. From November 2020 through October 2021, 100 youth will participate in workshops where they will receive training, mentorship, research coaching, and take part in hands-on-projects with partner organizations.

Administrator Wheeler also announced the selection of the $120,000 EJ Community Problem Solving grant for Youthprise’s Northside Safety-N.E.T. (Neighborhoods Empowering Teens) project. The project will address disparate environmental impacts and empower at-risk youth of color in North Minneapolis, Minn. Through January 2022, approximately ten young people between the ages of 14 and 24 years old will receive training in addressing environmental justice issues, increasing environmental literacy to create a new generation of environmental stewards, and increasing exposure and interest in environmental and sustainability careers.

Funding will be provided once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied.

Through the State Environmental Justice Cooperative Agreement Program, EPA is providing grants over a two-year period for eligible recipients to work collaboratively with environmental justice communities to understand, promote and integrate approaches to provide meaningful and measurable improvements to public health and the environment.

The Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Cooperative Agreement Program provides funds for community driven solutions to local, environmental problems. The program helps local non-profit and tribal organizations partner with stakeholders from across industry, government, and academia to develop and implement solutions that significantly address environmental and/or public health issues in their communities.

This year’s projects include reducing sources of air pollution, reducing lead exposure in homes of low-income residents, and reducing illegal dumping on tribal lands. 88% of this year’s recipients are in communities with Opportunity Zones, which were created under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Trump. Nearly 35 million Americans live in communities designated as Qualified Opportunity Zones.