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Additional Nelson Mullins Alerts

Nov. 30, 2023

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Announces $2 Billion Environmental and Climate Justice Funding Opportunity

Historic Funding Offers Unprecedented Opportunity to Assist Transformation of Disadvantaged Communities Across the Country

By Rod Hall

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through its Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights (OEJECR), has announced an unprecedented funding opportunity entitled the “Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grants Program” or more commonly referred to as the “Community Change Grants Program”. The Community Change Grants Program makes available $2 billion to be awarded on a competitive basis for environmental and climate justice activities in communities across the country most adversely and disproportionately impacted by climate change, legacy pollution, and historical disinvestments. Specifically, the program seeks to fund “community-driven” projects that reduce pollution, increase community climate resilience, and build community capacity to address environmental and climate justice challenges. Average awards are expected to be $10–20 million each and shall not exceed $20 million.

The Community Change Grants Program represents the final and most extensive segment of EPA’s implementation of the environmental justice policy and funding made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) signed into law by President Biden in August of 2022.   

Captured below are answers to key questions regarding EPA applicability and compliance: 

Is My Organization Eligible? 

The entities eligible to apply under the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) are: 

  • A partnership between two community-based non-profit organizations (CBOs).
  • A partnership between a CBO and one of the following:
    • a Federally-Recognized Tribe 
    • a local government 
    • an institution of higher education

Other organizations and entities may be able to participate and be involved in the Community Change Grants projects as collaborating subrecipients and/or procurement contractors selected in compliance with competition requirements.

What technical assistance programs does the fund include? 

Technical Assistance Programs include, but are not limited to:

  • Air and Quality Control
  • 0% Emissions
  • Facilitating engagement of Community Members.
  • Climate Resiliency
  • Workforce Development
  • Mitigating extreme heat, and wildfire situations

What types of Change Grant Projects can EPA Fund? 

The kind of change grant projects EPA can fund are (not all-inclusive): 

  • Community Greening Enhanced Mobility (active transportation, transit, carshare)
  • Sustainable Housing (energy and water resilience)
  • Community Energy Resilience Community Health (Food access, parks, open space)
  • Waste Reduction and Circular Economy
  • Indoor & Outdoor Air Quality
  • Clean Drinking water
  • Improved Wastewater Systems
  • Address Hazardous Waste and Pesticides

How do I become eligible for a grant? 

To be eligible for a grant:

  • You are hired directly by a community-based non-profit organization.
  • You are a community-based non-profit.

You can apply through a Grantmaker to avoid the 9-month long process of getting grants approved by the federal system, however, if the community change grant is $20 million or over, it must go through the federal process. 

When do I need to apply?

EPA is accepting applications on a rolling basis for $2 billion in Inflation Reduction Act funding available to support community-driven projects that build capacity for communities to tackle environmental and climate justice challenges, strengthen their climate resilience, and advance clean energy. 

To apply for this opportunity, view the RFA on Grants.gov. Application packages must be submitted on or before Nov. 21, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. EST. 

What are the funds in compliance of?

This competition is being launched in order to meet the goals and objectives of two Executive Orders (EO 14008 and EO 13985) issued by the Biden Administration that demonstrate the EPA’s and Administration’s commitment to achieving environmental justice and embedding environmental justice into Agency programs.

The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act created the Environmental and Climate Justice grant program in Section 138 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and provided EPA with $2.8 billion in grant funding for the program for projects to benefit communities with environmental justice concerns, and $200 million for technical assistance in direct response to feedback from communities and environmental justice leaders who have long called for capacity building support for communities and their partners as they work to access critical federal resources. 

Resource Links: 

NoFo Announcement: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/biden-harris-administration-announces-2-billion-fund-environmental-and-climate-justice 

Learn more about TA for the Community Change Grants: https://www.epa.gov/inflation-reduction-act/community-change-grants-technical-assistance 

Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2023-08/Frequently%20Asked%20Questions%20-%20Community%20Change%20Grants%20August%202023_0.pdf 

Dec. 7th Webinar: https://usepa.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_eybYKdmfRxydlU6UWC77tA#/registration 

Link to Slides: https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2023-11/idc-limitation-webinar_ecj-community-change-grants-october-2023-webinar-slides.pdf 

Rod Hall is a Senior Policy Advisor in the Washington Office of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. He served as a political appointee to the U.S. Department of Transportation during the Obama Administration.