The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is now accepting applications for the Environmental Justice Community Impact Grants, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced recently.DEC's Office of Environmental Justice will award more than $1 million to organizations serving communities that face multiple sources of environmental risks.
"The EJ grants boost areas that are disproportionately affected by a high concentration of pollution sources," said Martens. "Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, these grants will ensure that financial resources are distributed to communities where the impact will be the greatest, and I encourage community organizations across the state to apply for an EJ grant."
EJ grant awards will range from $2,500 to $50,000 to help local organizations with projects that address environmental and/or public health concerns. Ten percent of the total EJ grant will be designated as "Green Gems Grants" where individual groups will be awarded $2,500 to $10,000 to be used exclusively for community-based monitoring, stewardship and education projects involving community gardens, parks and other open space.
Funding for the EJ grants comes from the Environmental Justice Community Impact Research Grant program. Launched in 2006, the program concentrates on communities that have historically been overburdened by problems such as a high density of contaminated sites, noise, air and water pollution, health problems and lack of green space and waterfront access.
A wide variety of projects can be supported by this grant program, including community gardens and green roofs, air and water quality monitoring, lead poisoning prevention, urban forestry, subsistence fishing education, environmental education for urban youth, inventories of local pollution sources and green worker training.
Grant applications are due Friday, March 8, 2013, and awards are expected to be made in early summer. During the last grant round in 2011, DEC awarded 24 grants totaling more than $1 million.
As part of the new EJ Grant application round, OEJ will host a series of grant workshops at various locations around the state this month. Details will be posted on OEJ's grant Web page at www.dec.ny.gov/public/31226.html.
The mission of OEJ at the DEC is to ensure the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. OEJ focuses on improving the environment in communities, specifically minority and low-income communities and addressing disproportionate adverse environmental impacts that may exist in those communities.
For more information on the EJ Grants, the upcoming workshops or the Environmental Justice Advisory Group, please call Melvin I. Norris, director of the Office of Environmental Justice, at 518-402-8556 or visit www.dec.ny.gov.