Today, as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the Biden-Harris Administration announced JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) of Denver, Colorado, has been selected to receive $50 million under EPA’s Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaking program created by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate action investment in history. JSI will use these funds to serve as a Grantmaker for project applicants across EPA Region 8, which includes Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and 28 Tribal Nations.
This new grant program, which will make it easier for small community-based organizations to access federal environmental justice funding, responds to community feedback about the need to reduce barriers to federal funds. Specifically, the program will improve the efficiency of the awards process to ensure communities that have long faced underinvestment can access the benefits of the largest climate investment in history. Communities will be able to apply to JSI for a subgrant to fund a range of different environmental project activities, including small local clean ups; local emergency preparedness and disaster resiliency programs; environmental workforce development programs for local jobs reducing greenhouse gas emissions; fence-line air quality and asthma related projects; healthy homes programs; and projects addressing illegal dumping.
“This Grantmakers funding will create much-needed opportunities for Environmental Justice communities and leaders to receive federal grants s for locally-developed projects that focus on improving the environment, public health and quality of life,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “EPA looks forward to collaborating with JSI to deliver resources and support in the communities that need them most.”
“Access to clean water and clean air is a fundamental human right,” said U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. “This investment will help remove barriers to obtaining federal funds for small community-based organizations in parts of Colorado that have long been disproportionately affected by poor water and air quality. It is important to ensure those communities receive the resources they need.”
“Our Inflation Reduction Act gives us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address climate change for the communities that are facing it head-on,” said U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper. “Today’s investment will catalyze locally-led solutions for climate resilience in Colorado and other Western states.”
“Today’s announcement represents a transformative step in our fight for environmental justice,” said U.S. Representative Diana DeGette. “Thanks to the Biden Administration, these investments will help ensure communities across the Mountain West have cleaner air and water – improving public health across the region. I’m proud that Denver will continue to be a leader in this fight. As we address the climate crisis and the harmful pollution fueling it, we’re working together to ensure a healthier, more equitable future for all.”
EPA Grantmakers will work in collaboration with EPA to issue subgrants to community-based nonprofit organizations and other eligible organizations representing disadvantaged communities. As a Grantmaker, JSI will design comprehensive application and submission processes, award environmental justice subgrants, implement tracking and reporting systems and provide resources and support to communities.
JSI’s team will focus on environmental, public health and quality of life improvements in the most overburdened, vulnerable and underserved communities by co-designing an equitable and inclusive grantmaking application and scoring process. The Institute will reach out to communities across EPA Region 8, reducing burdens on subgrantees and engaging in monitoring, evaluation and reporting that ensures the integrity, compliance and impact of the program. JSI has more than 30 years as an environmental health training and technical assistance provider and grant manager. The subgrants are expected to become available by summer of 2024.
JSI’s partners include:
The Montana Watershed Coordination Council (Helena, Montana)
The Oglala Lakota Cultural & Economic Revitalization Initiative (Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota)
Dakota Resource Council (Bismarck, North Dakota)
The Wyoming Outdoor Council (Lander, Wyoming)
The Community Health Association of Mountains/Plains States (Denver, Colorado)
Equitable funding Advisory/Training Partner Community-Centric Fundraising (Seattle, Washington)
Grantmakers are expected to begin opening competitions and awarding subgrants by summer 2024. Community-based nonprofit organizations and other eligible organizations seeking subgrant funding will be able to apply for subgrants through three concurrent tiers offered by the Grantmakers. Tier One will consist of grants for $150,000 for assessment, Tier Two will consist of grants for $250,000 for planning, and Tier Three will consist of grants for $350,000 for project development. In addition, $75,000 will be available for capacity-constrained community-based organizations through a noncompetitive process under Tier One. Each Grantmaker will design and implement a distribution program best suited for their region and communities.
The Grantmakers program is part of the Federal Interagency Thriving Communities Network and delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative, which set the goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. Grantmakers will work in collaboration with the Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (EJ TCTACs) to create a robust support network to assist eligible entities when applying.