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EPA Awards 2019 Environmental Justice Small Grants to Three New York Organizations

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 3 organizations in New York.

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 York’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.

New York’s 2019 Environmental Justice Small Grants recipients will include:

Randall’s Island Park Alliance (RIPA), New York, NY

Project: A phytoremediation study in New York City: public participatory research for reclaiming urban green space 

This project aims to reduce the high risk of exposure to harmful soil contamination by studying phytoremediation strategies and increasing soil safety awareness for people of color and low-income communities living in East Harlem and the South Bronx. During the project, high school students from the South Bronx and East Harlem will monitor plant physiological responses to soil conditions at 30 locations and local undergraduates will assist with soil contaminant monitoring, including sample processing and lab analyses.

Rockaway Waterfront Alliance (funded by Urban Waters), New York, NY

Project: Shore Corps: Environmental Stewards Youth Internship & Workforce Development Program for a Healthy and Resilient Rockaway

The Shore Corps project aims to engage the community by stabilizing and expanding the existing dune system protecting local neighborhoods from storm surge and wave action. Restoration efforts will work to make the dunes more biodiverse with complex networks of root systems to prevent erosion. The restorations will also be an avenue for job training for local youth. The project will serve the predominantly very low to moderate income community of color situated in the environmental justice impact areas on the eastern end of the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, New York.

Groundwork Hudson Valley (GHWV), Yonkers, NY

Project: Preparing for Extreme Weather: Resiliency Education in Southwest Yonkers

GWHV will expand the reach and impact of an important education program that informs the public, especially students and their families, about community resiliency and storm preparation within a highly vulnerable area. Yonkers has been affected by 3 hurricanes in the last decade and floods are increasingly affecting the local neighborhoods. The grant will enable Ecohouse, a dynamic STEM center operated by GWHV that demonstrates how buildings can be constructed and adapted to achieve sustainability goals, to expand its program on extreme weather and emergency preparedness from engaging just one school to engaging over 700 local residents from the surrounding community.

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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