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News Releases from Region 05

EPA selects Flint-based Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village for $30,000 grant to reduce lead exposure through nutrition education

Award part of $1.5 million in competitive grants nationwide

Contact Information: 
Francisco Arcaute (
312-886-7613, 312-898-2042 cell

For Immediate Release No. 19-OPA113

Flint, Mich. (Nov. 7, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that Flint, Michigan-based Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village (SBEV) will receive a $30,000 grant to identify and understand how socioeconomic conditions and cultural barriers impact food selection and lead exposure among Flint residents. In total, EPA is awarding $1.5 million in competitive grants to 50 organizations working to address environmental justice issues in their communities.

Fifty percent of the grantees 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 grant to Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village underscores our commitment to ensuring that everyone – regardless of where they live, learn and work, deserves equal protection from environmental risks and potential health hazards,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp.

SBEV will run a one-year pilot program with a select group of Flint residents to explore ways in which meaningful diet changes can be made that are both culturally sensitive and lead diminishing. As part of the program, SBEV will host cooking demonstrations using fresh fruits and vegetables, hold outings to the Flint Farmers’ Market, and work closely with families to uncover where they are finding success or facing challenges. Following the pilot, SBEV will introduce best practices learned over the course of the pilot program to the organization’s general nutrition program.

“At the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village, our mission is to cultivate leadership capacity,” said SBEV Executive Director Maryum Rasool. “We firmly believe that investing in young people is the key to creating compelling and lasting change in our community. Via education, nutrition and physical health.”

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.

For descriptions of each of the 2019 Environmental Justice Small Grant awardees’ projects, 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 of the grantees selected are 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: