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News Releases from Region 05

EPA Selects Heartland Communities, Inc. in Fort Wayne for Environmental Justice Small Grant

Agency selects 12 organizations to receive $360,000 nationwide

Contact Information: 
Joshua Singer (

FORT WAYNE, IND. (June 30, 2020) - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced 12 organizations, including Heartland Communities, Inc., in Fort Wayne, will receive a total of $360,000 to help address environmental justice issues in their communities. Each of the organizations will receive approximately $30,000. The organizations announced today were selected from the large pool of applicants in 2019. This funding is in addition to 50 organizations awarded $1.5 million in grants 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.”

“EPA’s Environmental Justice grants advance our Agency’s commitment to ensuring that everyone receives equal protection from environmental risks and potential health hazards by supporting communities as they take action on local priorities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Kurt Thiede.

“Heartland Communities is grateful to be awarded the Environmental Justice Small Grant as part of the Plowshares Project to educate urban farmers and gardeners among vulnerable populations about lead contamination in the soil, and how it can contaminate fruits and vegetables grown in the city,” said Jain Young, Administrator and Project Manager at Heartland Communities, Inc. “In urban neighborhoods like Fort Wayne, Indiana, there is danger of lead poisoning and a need for soil contaminant mitigation on formerly blighted properties after buildings are removed and the lot is prepared for horticultural activity."

Seven of the 12 grants selected, or almost 60%, will support communities with census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones – an economically-distressed community 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.

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 following organizations will receive grants:

  • Groundwork Lawrence, Lawrence, MA
  • Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
  • Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Philadelphia, PA
  • Metro Community Ministries, College Park, GA
  • Sustain Charlotte, Charlotte, NC
  • Heartland Communities, Inc., Fort Wayne, IN
  • The IPM Institute of North America, Milwaukee, WI
  • Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, Albuquerque, NM
  • Taos Valley Acequia Association, Taos, NM
  • Environmental Health Coalition, San Diego, CA
  • Rural Community Assistance Corporation, Yurok Indian Reservation, CA
  • One Step A La Vez, Santa Clara River Valley, CA

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.

Heartland Communities, Inc., will receive $28,211 to conduct a lead hazards in soil education program in Fort Wayne, among vulnerable populations and non-English speakers in Burmese and Hispanic communities. Aided by EPA’s Environmental Justice grant, the Heartland Communities project seeks to educate urban farmers and gardeners in low income areas about lead contamination in the soil and how it can contaminate fruits and vegetables grown in the city. In Fort Wayne, 66% of the housing stock was built before 1978 and therefore could contain lead hazards.

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, 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:

For more information on additional winners, please visit:

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