Reimagine Appalachia encourages local communities to apply for federal grants

REIMAGINE APPALACHIA is providing local communities with information about grant opportunities through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Reimagine Appalachia hosted a virtual meeting Monday in partnership with the Environmental Protection Network, a national nonprofit organization made up of over 600 former EPA staff.

“The EPA’s Environmental and Justice Community Change Grants program benefits disadvantaged communities through projects that reduce pollution, increase community climate resilience and build community capacity to address environmental and climate justice challenges.

The objective of the grant is to fund community-driven, change-making projects that center collaborative efforts around healthier, safer and more prosperous communities,” Natalia Rudiak, director of special projects at Reimagine Appalachia, said.

Sierra Taliaferro, community outreach associate at the Environmental Protection Network, said the grants will support areas all over the country but could greatly benefit parts of Appalachia, especially those affected by the decrease in coal mining.

“It’s really about offering this unprecedented opportunity to transform the disadvantaged communities across the U.S. to make sure that they are healthy, they are climate resilient and they are thriving communities for their current and future residents. The community change grants help fund community-driven projects that address those climate challenges, but also help to reduce pollution while strengthening the community,” she said.

Taliaferro said there will be two “tracks,” or rounds of funding, that communities can apply for. She said the EPA expects to make approximately 150 track one awards with a $10 million to $20 million limit per award. Track two will fund about 20 grants of $1 million to $3 million per award.

She said that track two focuses more on “meaningful engagement for equitable governance.”

“That means being able to facilitate the engagement of disadvantaged communities in governmental processes to help advance environmental and climate justice. So it’s really about breaking down those systemic barriers, to be able to have community participation and for that government process that impacts environmental in front of justice. …So it really helps to close those gaps as much as possible,” Taliaferro said.

Taliaferro said the deadline to apply for the grant is Nov. 21 if funds remain, but she recommends submitting applications as soon as possible.

“The EPA will be granting these funds on a more rolling basis. So if you submit early, you can be eligible for early review and reward or to be able to resubmit after debriefing the agency,” she said.

She remarked that the EPA will start reviewing applications on March 1, so applications submitted by the end of this month will be reviewed first.

Taliaferro said EPN’s goal is to protect human health and the environment.

More information about the grants and how to apply can be found on epa.gov. The EPN also posted additional information and tips for applying at environmentalprotectionnetwork.org.

A recording of the meeting can be viewed on Reimagine Appalachia’s Facebook page.

The virtual meeting was part of the Reimagine Appalachia Grant of the Month Club Series.

According to a press release from Reimagine Appalachia, the Grant of the Month Club Series is “an ongoing series which aims to share information on funding streams and resources that we (Reimagine Appalachia) believe are of particular interest to rural communities, communities facing energy transition or deindustrialization, historically disinvested communities and/or Appalachian communities.”

The next meeting about grants will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 29 on Zoom.

According to a press release from Reimagine Appalachia, “RuralOrganizing.org Education Fund will be presenting on their ongoing work to expand access to federal funding for rural communities. They are working to build a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Through grassroots organizing and federal advocacy support, they’re helping make sure rural leaders have the tools they need.”

Anyone can register for the meeting on reimagineappalachia.org by going to the “events” page. The meetings are free to the public.


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