Author: Aswad Walker Published: 1/23/2024 Defender Network
The HBCU received funding through President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the largest investment in climate action in history.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University was selected as one of the 11 “Grantmakers” under its $600 billion Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaking (EJ TCGM) program.
The program was created by President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the largest investment in climate action in history.
“I am proud to say Texas Southern University is the HBCU that served as the launching pad for my environmental justice career way back in 1979 — before EJ had a name or initials,” said Dr. Robert D. Bullard, the Center’s namesake, who is often referred to as the “father of environmental justice.”
“And today, 44 years later, TSU was selected to serve as a Regional Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaker,” Bullard added.
It makes perfect sense that a Center located in the Bayou City would be a recipient of this EPA grant. Why? Because of all of Houston’s national accolades, including being the most diverse city in the nation, one area the city leads the country in could be the death of us. Literally, no city in the nation pollutes its air and thus its residents like Houston.
Along with the Bullard Center, the city is home to Air Alliance Houston, founded in the late 1980s to reduce the public health impacts of air pollution and advance environmental justice through research, education, and advocacy. Additionally, Houston’s Furr High School is the first environmental justice magnet high school in the U.S.
Houston’s Fifth Ward has made national news for being smack dab in the middle of a major cancer cluster so toxic that the city is investing $5 million to relocate residents.
The Center will work closely with its community-based organization partner, Achieving Community Tasks Successfully (ACTS), led by Bridgette Murray, who is focused on engaging, educating, and empowering communities impacted by industrial sources of pollution.
“ACTS is honored to serve as a partner for the Bullard Center. Our success as a community-based organization is a result of the mentorship of the HBCU-CBO Gulf Coast Equity Consortium and the Houston Data to Action Project, which provided both technical and financial assistance. It is our desire to assist other nonprofit organizations in the environmental justice space to lead mitigation efforts in their own communities. It is our belief this award will assist other communities to thrive in their desire to improve their own quality of life and health,” said Murray, who is a native Houstonian.
ACTS has been a long-time collaborative partner of the Bullard Center as a member of the HBCU-CBO Gulf Coast Equity Consortium and the Houston Data to Action Project.
“Texas Southern University is proud to advance this critically important work of environmental and climate justice with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s support,” said TSU’s interim president, Dr. Mary Sias. “This is another example of the Bullard Center’s continued leadership on these often overlooked issues. We look forward to the tangible difference that will be made in underserved communities as a result of the Thriving Communities initiative.”
The Bullard Center will also work with the EPA Region 6 EJ Thriving Communities Technical Assistance (TCTAC), South Central Environmental Justice Resource Center at New Mexico State University, HBCU-CBO Consortia, and the National Black Environmental Justice Network to maximize the impact of these combined environmental justice funds — and ensure the funds follow the need — directed to communities and organizations that historically have been left out and left behind.
This new Grantmakers Program is designed to make it easier for small community-based organizations to access subgrant funding by reducing obstacles and barriers.
“Our plan includes streamlining grant application and submission procedures, providing resources and technical assistance, improving the efficiency of the awards process, building in a more diverse pool of reviewers, and adopting a transparent tracking and reporting system, with the goal of ensuring communities that have long faced underinvestment can access the benefits of the IRA,” says Bullard.
The Grantmakers Program has tremendous potential to deliver on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative whose goal is to ensure 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.
Communities will be able to apply to our Grantmakers Program for subgrants to fund a range of different environmental project activities, including (but not limited to) 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 and a host of other environmental areas.
For more information on the EPA Grantmakers Program, click HERE.