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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Awards 2019 Environmental Justice Small Grant to New Jersey Organization

Contact Information: 
Elias Rodriguez (
(212) 637-3664

NEW YORK – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that $1.5 million in competitive grants will be awarded to 50 organizations working to address environmental justice issues in their communities, including the Unified Vailsburg Services Organization (USVO) to address littering and illegal dumping issues in Valisburg and Newark, New Jersey.

Fifty percent of the grants selected will support communities with census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones – an economically-distressed community where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. 

“Rural and disadvantaged communities are often disproportionately affected by environmental health risks, and at EPA we are working to reverse this trend,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These grants support the President’s initiatives to invest in and revitalize distressed communities. By supporting often overlooked, local organizations that understand the unique challenges that their communities face, we’re better able to put in place long-term solutions to improve the environment and health of underserved areas of the country.” 

“EPA's environmental justice small grants help address the big challenges that many of New Jersey’s underserved communities face,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “We are committed to building on our relationships with our local partners to find and implement innovative, safe, and economically-strengthening solutions to these problems.”

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 funding will help organizations in 27 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.
  • Conduct demonstrations and trainings to shed light on those conditions.
  • Work collaboratively to address environmental justice challenges in their communities.

USVO’s project, called UVSO Street Team: #GetMAD! Motivated & Doing! Campaign Youth Assignment: Solid Waste & Illegal Dumping Awareness Project aims to increase awareness regarding litter and dumping in Vailsburg and Newark and share information about the effects that toxic materials in solid waste have on the community. The UVSO project team will collect survey data and impressions from community residents and train youth as eco-ambassadors addressing illegal dumping. Youth will research, record, and report on the dumping and litter landscape and the health impacts.

For descriptions of each of the 2019 Environmental Justice Small Grant awardees’ projects nationwide, visit

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. Sixteen of this year’s environmental justice grant projects are in communities that are especially vulnerable to disasters.

Specific grant projects include: 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.

For the second year in a row, EPA’s Urban Waters program provided $300,000 in funding toward some of the grant awards. Ten grants were selected for to communities focused on improving water quality.

This year EPA received 208 applications, which is the highest number since 2013. The grant awards provide approximately $30,000 per project for a one-year project period. 

For more information on the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, including descriptions of previously funded grants:

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