Small Funds Leading to Big Impacts

By Alyssa Edwards

Small funds don’t always mean small impacts. As the EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grant program has shown us, oftentimes, very small funds, when put in the hands of community-based organizations (CBOs), can achieve big results. Since the program’s inception in 1994, more than 1,400 CBOs have done just that. And we are proud to announce the selection of 36 more organizations that will be joining that cohort as recipients of the 2017 Environmental Justice Small Grant funds.

One example of how small funds can make a difference is seen in the Choctow Nation of Oklahoma. In 2015, the tribe was awarded an EJ Small Grant in support of Project Oka (the Choctaw word for water). The goal was to protect and conserve local waters by helping residents reduce litter. The project has exceeded expectations. To date, the Choctow Nation has collected and recycled more than 12,000 pounds of electronics and more than 1,800 tires. In addition, more than 400 students have been involved in educational and recycling activities. The tribe also created a disaster recovery plan to address disaster preparedness and adaptation strategies as a part of the project.

We know this year’s EJ Small Grants projects will add to the impressive list of community-driven solutions funded by EPA. A significant number will work to ensure clean and safe water, a strategic priority for EPA, as well as address public health concerns from contaminated land. Others will address lead exposure to create safer environments for children, environmental stewardship and conservation in under-resourced rural communities, and job training programs through green infrastructure projects.

Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership in Warren, Ohio will be working to reduce residents’ exposure to potential soil contamination from former industrial activities. Fideicomiso de la Tierra del Caño Martín Peña will work with the community of Buena Vista, Puerto Rico to manage rainfall runoff and reduce the threat of flooding – support even more necessary and timely as the island enters its long recovery from Hurricane Maria.

To expand the geographical reach of the program, during this past funding cycle, we placed a special emphasis on supporting projects in states where we did not have a significant funding history. We are excited that with this latest selection of EJ Small Grants, we will support efforts ranging from Dellslow, West Virginia to Waimea, Hawaii and many communities in between.

For a third of the EJSG recipients, this will be their first time receiving a federal grant. We are honored to support these communities as we know that an EJ Small Grant can be that much needed spark that allows organizations to access additional funding from government and the private sector as they pursue broader community goals.

Read project descriptions on the recently funded awards, as well as to learn more about EJ Small Grant projects from previous years.

And be sure to subscribe to the EJ ListServ to receive up-to-date information about funding opportunities from across the federal government, including our soon-to-be-released grants competition for 2018, upcoming workshops, and related environmental justice topics.

About the Author: Alyssa Edwards is a Program Analyst in the Office of Environmental Justice.

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