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EPA Announces $145,000 in Environmental Justice Grants in Massachusetts; Lowell, Springfield, Worcester and E. Boston Among Recipients

Release Date: 09/13/04
Contact Information:

Contact: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008)

For Immediate Release: September 13, 2004 Release # 04-09-02

LOWELL – Flanked by the Lowell Mayor Armand P. Mercier and local environmental leaders, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a $100,000 environmental justice grant to the Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA), a grassroots environmental group trying to improve environmental and economic conditions in South Lowell’s “Acre” neighborhood. CBA is one of four organizations in Massachusetts that received environmental justice grants totaling $145,000.

"EPA's environmental justice grants ensure that residents of New England all receive equal protection from environmental hazards," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office, speaking today at Lowell City Hall. "This grant to the Coalition for a Better Acre will fund specific projects that will reduce the chances that someone living in Lowell will be threatened by the risks that come with pollution.”

The $100,000 grant is being distributed over three years under the Office of Environmental Justice’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program, which was established last year to help community-based organizations.

CBA will focus its work on four city neighborhoods – the “Acre” neighborhood, Back Central, Lower Highlands and Lower Centralville – with large concentrations of low-income and minority residents. The goal is to help residents learn steps they can take to address problems of indoor air pollution and solid waste disposal.

CBA and its partners on this project will carry out 12 educational sessions introducing natural, nontoxic cleaning products and asthma reducing products to residents. The groups will also hold eight education and information sessions on recycling in order to reduce solid waste disposal.

“So much important environmental work has already been accomplished through the collaborative efforts of the EPA, CBA, the University of Massachusetts and the Lowell Community Health Center and I am honored to be part of that team,” said Laura Buxbaum, interim executive director of the Coalition for a Better Acre. “Although there is more outreach, job training and education needed in this community, we are certainly ‘moving the ball forward.”

Through the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, another three grants totaling $45,000 were awarded to community, non-profit groups in East Boston, Springfield and Worcester for projects promoting environmental justice. The following three projects, which address pollution from multiple sources (i.e., air, water, etc), were each awarded $15,000:

    • Business and Community Environmental Justice Roundtable on Chelsea Creek - The Neighborhood of Affordable Housing of East Boston received this grant to develop three roundtable discussions including local businesses owners and citizens. The discussions will be aimed at: encouraging business “buy-in” to the community’s Chelsea Creek Vision Plan; fostering business collaboration and investment in specific clean-up and Brownfield redevelopment projects; and finding mutually agreeable ways to improve air and water quality. Specifically, the project will try to improve air quality by adding forest cover and green space along the creek. Water quality will also be addressed by cleaning up waterfront Brownfield sites.
    • Springfield Housing Organization and Health Action Project - The Pioneer Valley Project of Springfield, a coalition of church, labor and community groups working for social change, will use these funds to help reduce the incidence of lead poisoning and asthma-related hospitalizations from target neighborhoods by 10 percent within a year. To meet this goal, the group plans to work with other organizations to address disproportionate exposure of residents to indoor environmental hazards in the target area. It also plans to build on Springfield’s network of community organizers, family advocates and community health workers in order to identify housing stock that bears a disproportionate burden of environmental hazards and to interpret environmental data to help residents understand the impact of various indoor environmental hazards.
    • Building Awareness and Providing Alternatives to Household Toxics in Worcester’s Low-income and Minority Neighborhoods - The Regional Environmental Council of Worcester, a group that provides regional environmental education, plans to use this funding to improve the health of Worcester residents in low-income neighborhoods. REC will build awareness of toxic chemicals found in and around the home and teach residents to avoid exposure by purchasing less toxic alternatives. It also plans to build stronger links among community groups, churches, health care providers, students and city agencies and to train community leaders how to access and interpret health and environmental data.
To receive a copy of an application for the next round of grants, contact EPA New England's Environmental Justice Specialist, Davina Wysin at 617-918-1020 or Copies of the grant guidance and other information can also be found at

Related Information:
Environmental Justice Program