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Release Date: 12/04/2000
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office (617-918-1014)

BOSTON - The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency this week announced that Nuestras Raices in Holyoke and the Campaign to Protect Chinatown in Boston are among six community groups in New England receiving a total of $83,500 in Environmental Justice Small Grants.

Nuestras Raices in Holyoke received $15,000 to train community members to conduct their own environmental health assessments and computer mapping. Four young adults, members of the Americorps, will be trained to conduct basic environmental and health assessments, to do computer mapping, and to educate the community. These young people will be trained by staff of Nuestras Raices and the University of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Sciences.

"All people have a right to a clean and safe environment," said Mindy Lubber, EPA's Regional Administrator for New England. "EPA's environmental justice grants are about making sure that every community is able to tackle the environmental problems facing them. These two grants will help Holyoke and Boston's Chinatown to do just that."

"We are thrilled to have been selected for this grant," said Luis Saez, environmental program director for Nuestras Raices. "These funds will help us build the capacity of mostly Latino inner city residents of Holyoke, particularly youth, to tackle the environmental problems in their neighborhoods".

The Campaign to Protect Chinatown in Boston received $15,000 to provide education on the immediate and long-term effects of pollution, and to help create an understanding of local environmental justice problems. The goal of this project is to inform Chinatown residents so they can help make decisions on issues concerning their environment.

"We are very excited about this project," said Martha Tai, coordinator of the Campaign to Protect Chinatown. "This grant will provide us the opportunity to educate residents about the long-term effects of development within our community and will help them become better informed on environmental justice issues. It will also help to ensure a community voice in the decision-making process in the future".

EPA's Environmental Justice Small Grants, first given out in 1994, are meant to help ensure equal environmental protection, and the equal enforcement of environmental laws, rules, regulations, and policies for all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, culture, or income.

The following grants were also awarded:


The Casco Bay Estuary Project of the Muskie School of Public Service at The University of Southern Maine received $20,000 for a project to provide the first-ever available data on low income and ethnic populations in Casco Bay who are at risk due to subsistence shellfishing of polluted areas in Casco Bay. Local shellfish officers have noticed subsistence shellfishing in closed clam and mussel bed areas. No confirmed information is available on who is eating the shellfish from polluted areas or how much they are consuming. This research project will help identify the population and consumption rates and will identify what health advisories are needed.

New Hampshire:

The Way Home of Manchester received $15,000 to educate low-income and minority households in Manchester on environmental problems within the home, including lead contamination and asthma triggers. The Way Home's project will educate the community and help build coalitions among landlords, tenants, and city health and building department officials to protect children from environmental health hazards in the home.

Rhode Island:

Paddle Providence, Inc. of Providence received $15,000 to educate children and their families living along the Woonasquatucket River about safe uses of the river and health issues associated with the river. Paddle Providence will coordinate with the Providence Plan, Save the Bay, The National Parks Service and the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District to provide the education; the groups will also help youth and families living along the river to canoe and kayak on the river in order to form an appreciation for this natural resource.

Youth in Action of Providence received $3,500 for its Youth Environmental Technology Project, which will train 15 youth in computer mapping and its uses. They will be trained by computer mapping experts from the Providence Plan and the Urban Environmental Lab at Brown University. They will learn how to input data relating to environmental issues in their neighborhood, and how to use this data in simple forms to make it accessible to the community. They will then go door-to-door, explaining the information to area residents and compiling a list of residents who want to be more involved with advocacy efforts.