21 Community-Based Projects Receive Grants to Help Reduce Effects of Pollution and Create Healthier New York
$11 Million in Grants Awarded for Environmental Justice Initiatives Statewide Since 2011
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today awarded $1.9 million in Environmental Justice Community Impact Grants for 21 community-based projects that address environmental and public health concerns. The funding supports initiatives in low-income communities and communities of color that have historically been burdened by pollution and other environmental challenges. New York State has awarded an estimated $11 million in grants to environmental justice groups across the state since 2011.
"When we support grassroots efforts to build a greener, healthier, and more sustainable New York, everyone benefits," Governor Cuomo said. "This newest round of Community Impact Grants will make a positive difference in the lives of all New Yorkers through innovative and successful initiatives that promote environmental justice and a better quality of life."
Since 2006, the Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) Office of Environmental Justice has offered competitive grants to support communities facing a disproportionate burden of environmental issues. This funding assists communities in developing and implementing programs that address environmental issues, harms, and health hazards, build community consensus, set priorities, and improve public outreach and education.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Community Impact Grants support organizations undertaking comprehensive projects that address environmental concerns and study how environmental factors adversely influence quality of life in communities of color and low-income communities across New York. DEC remains committed to addressing environmental justice issues and looks forward to working with our new grantees to improve the environment in their communities."
The grant funding is provided by the State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) as part of New York's Environmental Justice agenda. To bolster programs funded by the EPF, the 2019-20 budget sustained its historic funding at $300 million. Community Impact Grants were awarded to the following organizations:
- Columbia Land Conservancy, Inc., fiscal sponsor for The Friends of Oakdale Lake: $100,000, The Oakdale Lake Watershed Analysis and Amelioration Project includes research, public information, and improvement recommendations to help improve the water at Oakdale Lake.
- Radix Ecological Sustainability Center: $100,000, The Albany South End Environmental Justice Project Expansion 2019, will help expand the project, a partnership between the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center and AVillage, Inc.
- Affordable Housing Partnership of the Capital Region, Inc. fiscal sponsor for Sheridan Hollow Neighborhood Association: $43,321.25, The Sheridan Hollow Memorial Park and Rain Garden project will reestablish the park and create a new rain garden.
CENTRAL NEW YORK
- Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition: $97,017.94, Binghamton Community Power: Promoting Environmental Protection, Fiscal Stability, and Public Health in Environmental Justice Neighborhoods. This project will measure the rate of energy poverty, its impact on residents, and the barriers to adopting energy conservation practices.
- Volunteers Improving Neighborhood Environments, Inc.: $100,000, Community and Home Gardens: Growing Safely in the Greater Binghamton Area. This project will build five new community gardens on vacant properties and 35-50 raised beds gardens at homes in the city of Binghamton, village of Johnson City, and town of Union to enable more people to safely grow food for themselves and their families.
- Poughkeepsie Farm Project: $100,000, Poughkeepsie Food Power. This project will develop on-site, school-based, and community garden programming to include research, hands-on workshops, and educational programming around crops that reflect the city's cultural diversity.
- Kingston Land Trust Inc., fiscal sponsor for Hudson Valley Bee Habitat: $100,000, The Conserving Pollinators through Community Engagement project will increase habitat for pollinators, create greater connection to green space, educate the public about the environmental harms to pollinators and humans, and foster understanding of pollinators through educational workshops and creative placemaking engagements.
- Community Foundation of Orange County, fiscal sponsor for Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative: $100,000, The Promoting Health and Wellness through Urban Agriculture in the city of Newburgh project supports Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative's efforts to promote health and wellness through urban agriculture/gardening in the city of Newburgh.
- Groundwork Hudson Valley: $99,999, Heat Island Mitigation and Risk Reduction in Southwest Yonkers. This project will analyze, prioritize, and make recommendations that address heat island issues in Southwest Yonkers and its 80,000 residents.
NEW YORK METROPOLITAN
- The Bronx is Blooming: $100,000, Grow, Revitalize, Engage, Educate, Nurture (GREEN). This project will expand The Bronx is Blooming's community engagement by providing students and community groups with after-school, school-day, and weekend programming to steward local parks.
- Eastern Queens Alliance, Inc.: $100,000, The Assessing Airport-Related Air and Noise Pollution in Southeast Queens will collect air and noise pollution data to provide a better understanding of levels of pollution and community health concerns.
- Friends of Van Cortlandt Park: $88,383, Garden 2 Market Internship. This project will continue the Garden 2 Market internship program while expanding it to include a research project to determine if there is a correlation between urban soils contamination and heavy metal levels in honey.
- Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, Inc.: $100,000, Shore Corps: Open Space Green Stewards Youth Internship and Workforce Development Program. Shore Corps is Green Steward's youth internship and workforce development program for 90 low-income youth, ages 14-18, living in Far Rockaway.
- Human Impacts Institute: $94,011.50, Brooklyn Environmental Health Lab. This project will launch the Brooklyn Environmental Health Lab to implement workshops, ambassador leadership training, pollution testing, and a display that residents will use to engage in activities that further their understanding of environmental pollutants.
- Gowanus Canal Conservancy, Inc.: $99,999.75, Gowanus Blue Schools Expansion. This project will incorporate stormwater management design and practices into middle and high school STEM curriculum, while working toward long-term viable strategies to construct and maintain green infrastructure on school properties.
- West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc.: $100,000, Community-Driven Solutions to the Growing Urban Heat Island Threat. This community-driven planning project will address the climate change-related environmental and public health threat of extreme heat.
- Neighbors Allied for Good Growth: $100,000, Clean Air, Safe Soil in the Urban Environment. This project will gather data from air samples and soil samples in public areas, partner with residents and local youth to learn about soil contamination and air pollution, and develop a comprehensive public awareness campaign that reaches community residents.
WESTERN NEW YORK
- North Tonawanda Botanical Garden Organization, Inc.: $47,162, North Tonawanda Sustainable Community Project. This project will educate and engage middle and high school students in preserving water quality through living/green infrastructure and best practices to foster environmental sustainability and biodiversity in the city of North Tonawanda.
- Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization Company: $100,000, Renewing Community Trust and Green Spaces to Prevent Stormwater Runoff in Buffalo's African-American Heritage Corridor. This project will improve stormwater management using green infrastructure; improve community knowledge of environmental risks; and improve community knowledge and participation in the use of rain gardens for stormwater management.
- Groundwork Buffalo, Inc.: $100,000, Green Team Education, Fruit Belt Restoration Program. This program will enlist a group of teens and young adults between the ages of 14-24 to help plant, harvest, upkeep, and deliver fresh produce to the residents of the East Side of Buffalo.
- Starflower Experiences, Inc.: $33,000, Waste Reduction and Recycling in Wyandanch. This project will plan and carry out a successful educational campaign for Wyandanch that will result in less trash, less single-use plastic, and more participation in recycling.
Today's announcement builds on other environmental justice initiatives spearheaded in New York State, including $11 million awarded since 2011 and the Governor's recent signing of a new law to create a permanent Environmental Justice Advisory Group and Interagency Coordinating Council. The Advisory Group will create a model environmental justice policy that ensures that New Yorkers, regardless of race, income, gender and national origin, have a right to fair treatment and meaningful involvement in the development of regulations and policies that affect the quality of their environment. The Interagency Coordinating Council will provide guidance to each state agency implementing environmental justice policies.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "The Community Impact Grants will help advance environmental justice in communities throughout New York State. The Senate Majority was proud to support these projects and we will continue our efforts building a healthier, greener, and fairer New York."
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “My colleagues and I in the Assembly Majority know that climate change is real, and we also know that it is disproportionately affects low-income communities, especially communities of color. This funding will go a long way in promoting environmental justice by helping close the socioeconomic and racial gap that has historically burdened our most vulnerable communities.”
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, "This money directed to the North Tonawanda Botanical Garden Organization, the Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization Company, and Groundwork Buffalo will go a long way toward cleaning up our water supply and getting young people and the community involved in creating a healthier, more environmentally sustainable community and help deliver fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables to residents in one of our city's food deserts."
Senator Kevin Parker said, "We cannot have social justice without environmental justice. These grants will empower communities across our state to correct many of the injustices they have suffered as a result of pollution and environmental neglect. I applaud the Governor for standing up for these communities and for his commitment to the health of our environment."
Assembly Member Steve Englebright, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation, said, "These Environmental Justice Grants are necessary to make sure that communities across New York don't struggle with the costs associated with living in a polluted neighborhood. I thank the Governor for supporting a greener, more equitable, and healthful environment for all New Yorkers. There is never a bad time to fight for clean air and clean water."
Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo also signed the nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The CLCPA requires the State to achieve a carbon free electricity system by 2040 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, setting a new standard for states and the nation to expedite the transition to a clean energy economy. The new law will drive investment in clean energy solutions such as wind, solar, energy efficiency and energy storage. Importantly, implementation of the CLCPA will target investments to benefit disadvantaged communities, create tens of thousands of new jobs, improve public health and quality of life and provide all New Yorkers with more robust clean energy choices. As part of CLCPA, relevant state agencies will invest 35 percent of clean energy program resources to benefit disadvantaged communities, and will aim to invest 40 percent. Additionally, the just transition working group will work to ensure that individuals working in conventional energy industries are provided with training and opportunities in the growing clean energy economy.