Governor Cuomo Announces Environmental Justice Capacity-Building Grant Award Winners

August 18, 2020

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York’s Environmental Justice Capacity Building Grant Program is awarding grants to support 18 community-based Environmental Justice organizations across the state. The grants will help groups in New York’s communities disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution to increase their administrative, technical, and programmatic capacities and expand their services protecting public health and the environment.

“For far too long, low-income communities and communities of color have been disproportionately impacted pollution and its detrimental effects on their health,” Governor Cuomo said. “We all have an obligation to do our part and help ensure every New Yorker has a clean, safe, healthy environment to call home – and this program is just one component of the State’s comprehensive approach to achieving environmental justice for all communities.”

In October 2019, DEC selected WE ACT to manage the State’s new streamlined Environmental Justice Capacity Building Grants program. In coordination with DEC, the program is funded through the State’s Environmental Protection Fund to advance Governor Cuomo’s commitment to supporting the work of historically under-resourced organizations throughout New York focused on addressing Environmental Justice issues. Grants totaling $900,000 will advance local efforts to inform and engage residents on environmental concerns and decision-making that impacts public health and the environment, creates community-led scientific research initiatives, prepares for climate change impacts, and improves environmental conditions in their neighborhoods.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Governor Cuomo understands that low-income communities and communities of color have borne the burden of a disproportionate share of environmental pollution, are particularly vulnerable to climate change, and that any plan to combat climate change must help underserved communities prepare for and prosper in New York’s clean energy future. New York is leading the national fight for Environmental Justice through a series of strategic investments that will ensure historically disadvantaged communities are ready and able to join New York’s green workforce. DEC extends our thanks to WE ACT for their partnership and our congratulations to all of the awardees.”

Co-Founder and Executive Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice Peggy Shepard said, “We would like to thank Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for funding these grants, which provide grassroots groups throughout the state with the resources they desperately need to advance environmental justice in their local communities. We would also like to thank them for entrusting us to manage this program, given our 32 years of experience successfully advancing such initiatives in our own Northern Manhattan community and knowing all too well the challenges organizations like ours face in securing funding for such work.”

The recipients of the $50,000 Environmental Justice Capacity Building Grants are:

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  • Capital District
  • Kite’s Nest, Hudson
  • Media Alliance, Troy
  • Soul Fire Farm Institute, Inc., Petersburg
  • Central New York
  • Brady Faith Center, Inc., Syracuse
  • Onondaga Earth Corps, Inc., Syracuse
  • Volunteers Improving Neighborhood Environments, Inc. (VINES), Binghamton
  • Hudson Valley
  • Groundwork Hudson Valley, Yonkers
  • Long Island
  • Long Beach Latino Civic Association, Long Beach
  • New York City
  • BK ROT, Brooklyn
  • Friends of WHEELS, Manhattan
  • Cooper Square Community Development Committee, Inc., Manhattan
  • Sure We Can, Inc., Brooklyn
  • South Bronx Unite, Bronx
  • The Campaign Against Hunger, Brooklyn
  • The Guardians of Flushing Bay, Inc., Queens
  • WE STAY/Nos Quedamos, Inc., Bronx
  • Western New York
  • Connected Communities, Rochester
  • Grassroots Gardens of Western New York, Buffalo

New York’s ongoing commitment to Environmental Justice is highlighted by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which drives investment in clean energy solutions such as wind, solar, energy efficiency and energy storage and ensures that at least 40 percent of the clean energy investments benefit disadvantaged and low-to-moderate income communities.

Recently, $10.6 million was made available to help underserved New Yorkers access clean, affordable, and reliable solar energy, and as part of an initiative announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo last month to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, $206 million of $701 million is allocated for lower-socio-economic and disadvantaged communities to build electric vehicle charging stations and infrastructure. Earlier this week, the Governor announced proposed changes to the financing tools New York makes available to municipalities that will prioritize Environmental Justice areas for water infrastructure projects.

Related: Harlem’s Dr. Falkowski Talks 2100 Harlem Mega Flood And Nobel Prize On The Danny Tisdale Show

WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a member-based organization in Northern Manhattan whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Visit us at

Photo credit: Flooding in Washington Heights.

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