November 20, 2023
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Announces $3.5 Million for Environmental Justice Initiatives

Governor Hochul Announces $3.5 Million for Environmental Justice Initiatives

$2.1 Million in Community Impact Grants Awarded to 22 Community-Based Organizations

$1.4 Million will Support Four Organizations Implementing Localized Air Quality Monitoring Initiatives

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a total of $3.5 million in state funding to support environmental justice initiatives being led by more than 20 community-based organizations across the state. New grants invest in localized air monitoring initiatives and projects that take action to raise awareness and address environmental and health issues, helping to reach emission reduction requirements under the historic 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

“New York is committed to ensuring disadvantaged communities throughout the state have the funding, resources, and support they need to help address the disproportionate burden of air pollution and climate impacts that has been affecting communities and residents for far too long,” Governor Hochul said. “With $3.5 million in new funding, community organizations can help address local concerns and develop solutions in partnership with the state to improve quality of life, enhance air quality and the environment, and help to ensure a cleaner, greener future.”

Among the grants announced today, $2.1 million in Environmental Justice Community Impact Grants were awarded to 22 community-based organizations to support projects that address environmental and public health concerns. Community Impact 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. Since 2006, the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Office of Environmental Justice awarded nearly $15 million for 236 projects to help support communities overburdened by environmental issues.

Funding for Community Impact Grants is provided by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), a critical resource for environmental justice and other programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, recreation access, and water quality improvement. Among the many environmental victories in the enacted 2022-23 State Budget, Governor Hochul and legislative leaders increased the EPF to $400 million, the highest-ever level of funding in the program's history.

In addition, four community-based organizations will receive $1.43 million in Disadvantaged Community (DAC) Air Quality Monitoring grants. This grant opportunity, first announced by Governor Hochul in May during Air Quality Awareness Week, is also funded by EPF resources designated to support environmental justice communities. Eligible community-based organizations serving disadvantaged communities were eligible for grants up to $500,000 for initiatives that obtain air quality data tailored to issues identified by community residents.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “New York State’s support of environmental justice initiatives will result in stronger, healthier communities and I applaud Governor Hochul’s ongoing commitment to the organizations on the ground who are making a difference. Both the community impact and air monitoring grants support the crucial work of not-for-profit, community-based organizations that develop a wide variety of projects that drive positive change and improved environmental outcomes in their communities."

Community Impact Grants were awarded to the following organizations:

Capital Region

Media Alliance, Inc. $100,000
Growing Environmental Education at NATURE Lab
Media Alliance, Inc. seeks support to create an outdoor environmental education space at the NATURE Lab to improve community engagement, accessibility, and connectivity across its urban arts and environmental education campus.

Radix Ecological Sustainability Center $100,000
South End Food Sovereignty Education and Climate Justice Project
The South End Food Sovereignty Education and Climate Justice Project will promote food justice literacy through the care of urban garden space and the involvement of youth and adults in the process of food production, distribution, and composting.

Kite’s Nest, Inc. $99,996
Youth Growing Justice
This project engages youth as environmental justice leaders through a healing-centered approach to developing regenerative neighborhood businesses and food justice initiatives, while increasing knowledge of environmental stressors in the community.

Finger Lakes

BluePrint Geneva, Inc. $100,000
Mitigating Environmental Injustice in Geneva
BluePrint Geneva, Inc. will develop a comprehensive youth environmental justice corps to get local students informed and engaged about local environmental areas of concern and potential mitigation strategies as well expanding urban agriculture initiatives.

Hudson Valley

Groundwork Hudson Valley $100,000
Reviving Urban Forests in Southwest Yonkers in an Era of Climate Change
This project will expand efforts to assess the health of street trees and urban forests in SW Yonkers using the PlanIT Geo software leading to demonstration projects to reduce climate risks and further public health and community renewal goals.

Poughkeepsie Farm Project $100,000
Poughkeepsie Wellness
Poughkeepsie Wellness will move the Poughkeepsie community towards food sovereignty through a research project that upgrades community gardens to support and promote healthy relationships to self, community, healthy foods and the environment.

Sarah Lawrence College $100,000
Rising TIDES (Training Innovative and Diverse Environmental Scientists): Yonkers Blue Team and CSO Research
This project will address Yonkers' exposure to contaminated water through youth-driven education, outreach, and research that seeks to better understand the severity and duration of fecal contamination in the Hudson River after Combined Sewer Overflow events.

Outdoor Promise, Inc. $99,686
Newburgh's Water: Flowing Through Time
Newburgh's Water: Flowing Through Time seeks to address Newburgh's environmental challenges through comprehensive research, community education, and hands-on initiatives, fostering a healthier, sustainable future for residents.

Newburgh Urban Farm and Food, Inc. $67,092
Promoting Community Health with Urban Farming
The Promoting Community Health with Urban Farming will provide services and programs to the City of Newburgh that increase food access to residents who are food insecure and improve the environmental health of the community.

New York Metropolitan

Concrete Safaris, Inc. $100,000
Green Exercise Days Expansion: East Harlem School Children & Local Residents Grow Food, Plant Trees & Gain Environmental Health Literacy
In this Green Exercise Day Expansion, 400 East Harlem school children (up from 200) in the 2nd - 5th grades will grow food, plant trees, and gain environmental health literacy through weekly visits to gardens at Washington or Jefferson Houses.

Fort Greene Park Conservancy, Inc. $100,000
Green Team
Teens will research environmental harms in their community and execute an infrastructure project in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn.

Human Impacts Institute $100,000
Creative Climate Communications Lab
The Creative Climate Communications Lab (C3 Lab) is a living lab for exploring, experimenting with, and understanding the impact of innovative, community-based engagement methods for driving climate action and community resilience.

Outstanding Renewal Enterprises, Inc. $100,000
Horticulture Youth Training Program
The Lower East Side Horticulture Training Program educates local youth on sustainable horticultural practices and improves green infrastructure in the Lower East Side through soil-building activities.

The Bronx Is Blooming $100,000
Grow, Revitalize, Engage, Educate, Nurture (GREEN)
GREEN engages Bronx community members in hands-on environmental education and stewardship projects, through which participants learn about local ecology while restoring neighborhood park ecosystems to address environmental and public health harms.

Van Cortlandt Park Alliance $100,000
Water Chestnut Removal for a Future Daylighted Stream
VCPA’s staff, volunteers and interns will work to remove water chestnut from Tibbetts Brook and the Mill Pond to eradicate it from waterways to protect the future daylighted stream while developing better messaging for the community.

We Stay/Nos Quedamos, Inc. $100,000
Increasing Youth Leadership Programming Capacity and Effectivity in Melrose Commons, Bronx
NQ will work with a professional consultant to evaluate its first youth-led South Bronx Climate Resiliency Symposium, and to increase organizational capacity to develop long-term monitoring/evaluation plans and protocols for NQ’s resiliency work.

Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, Inc. $100,000
Community-led South Bronx Air Quality and Health Impact Research Study Focused on Air Emissions from a Local Concrete Plant
Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, Inc. will study the impacts of pollutants emitted from the Smyrna Ready Mix Concrete Plant located adjacent to Bronx River Houses, and partner with community leaders and the Bronx River Houses tenants to conduct outreach and engagement towards advocacy.

Woodlawn Conservancy, Inc. $94,218
Woodlawn Reforestation Project
The Woodlawn Reforestation Project is an initiative to identify species of large canopy trees resilient to current threats for planting in a publicly accessible 400-acre urban forest. Interns in a workforce development program will plant the trees.

Southern Tier

Volunteers Improving Neighborhood Environments Inc. $100,000
Maintaining Binghamton’s Legacy Community Gardens & Building Capacity for the Future
To support residents in growing their own food by addressing vital maintenance at the organization’s established (“Legacy”) community gardens, advancing neighborhood composting, gaining knowledge on lead contamination, and providing informative educational workshops.

Finger Lakes ReUse Inc. $99,166
Advancing Waste Reduction and Materials Access in EJ Communities
Finger Lakes ReUse will research how to better serve participants and increase environmental justice impacts while providing an increased number of Tompkins County households in need with quality used materials.

Western New York

Clean Air Coalition of Western New York $98,096
Community Organizing to combat multiple environmental harms and risks in Environmental Justice Communities in Western New York
Clean Air Coalition will conduct community organizing focused on disadvantaged communities, which will result in education and training of residents to give meaningful input around and lead to reduced exposure to multiple environmental harms and risks.

Air quality monitoring grants were awarded to the following projects:

Finger Lakes

BluePrint Geneva, Inc. $463,400
Geneva Area DAC Air Quality Monitoring Project
BluePrint Geneva’s team will gather air quality data, engage the community in analysis, and assist in determining and implementing appropriate mitigation strategies to reduce neighborhood exposures in three designated disadvantaged communities in and around Geneva.

Hudson Valley

Groundwork Hudson Valley $275,365
Tracking & Advocating for Air Quality Improvements in Southwest Yonkers
Groundwork Hudson Valley (GWHV) and partners will deploy air quality monitors across Southwest Yonkers to track pollution throughout the year, identify pollution sources, educate the community, and advocate for mitigation measures.

Long Island

Starflower Experiences, Inc. $192,000
Air Quality in Wyandanch

This project will enable Starflower to gather information about the quality of the air in the community of Wyandanch, which the community has long been concerned about. They will educate the community about the results and examine actions that can be taken.

New York Metropolitan

West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. $499,925
Why We Can’t Breathe: Air Quality Monitoring in the South Bronx and Northern Manhattan

WE ACT and South Bronx Unite will measure, document, and analyze diverse air quality microdata on sources and impacts of air contamination and mitigation; generating recommendations to reduce greenhouse gases in the South Bronx and Uptown Manhattan.

The community air monitoring grants announced today are in addition to the first-of-its-kind air quality and greenhouse gas mobile monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities across the state. The areas covered in the community air monitoring initiative are home to approximately five million New Yorkers and include neighborhoods overburdened by environmental pollution, which were selected for air quality monitoring using criteria developed by the Climate Justice Working Group. The results of the monitoring will drive solutions to reduce greenhouse gases and other harmful air pollutants to protect public health and the environment. Grants help bolster efforts in communities beyond the community air monitoring initiative.

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan
These and other initiatives support the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050 and ensure 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of clean energy investments directly benefit disadvantaged communities.

New York State's nation-leading climate agenda calls for an orderly and just transition that creates family-sustaining jobs, continues to foster a green economy across all sectors and ensures that at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities. Guided by some of the nation’s most aggressive climate and clean energy initiatives, New York is on a path to achieving a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and economywide carbon neutrality by mid-century. A cornerstone of this transition is New York's unprecedented clean energy investments, including more than $55 billion in 145 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $3.3 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. These and other investments are supporting more than 165,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2021 and over 3,000 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, New York also adopted zero-emission vehicle regulations, including requiring all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold in the State be zero emission by 2035. Partnerships are continuing to advance New York’s climate action with nearly 400 registered and more than 100 certified Climate Smart Communities, nearly 500 Clean Energy Communities, and the State’s largest community air monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities across the state to help target air pollution and combat climate change.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

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