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$2.8 Billion Available Under Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grants Program

December 12, 2023
3 minute read

$2.8 Billion Available Under Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grants Program

December 12, 2023
3 minute read

Authored By

Mark Bender

Mark C. Bender

Special Counsel

John Clancy

John L. Clancy

Shareholder

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently announced a $2.8 billion funding opportunity for climate justice efforts through the Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grants program (Community Change Grant). This competitive grant program aims to help disadvantaged communities implement measures related to pollution reduction, increasing community climate resilience, and addressing environmental and climate justice. The EPA has also allocated $200 million for technical assistance related to the grants.

The program will feature funding allocations under two separate tracks. Track I, Community-Driven Investments for Change, will focus on Climate Action and Pollution Reduction Strategies aimed at strengthening climate resilience and/or reducing GHG emissions. This may include, among many options, energy-efficient upgrades in residential or commercial buildings and installation of microgrids powered by low and zero-emission renewable energy. The EPA expects to award approximately $1.96 billion through 150 awards of $10-20 million each. Track II, Meaningful Engagement for Equitable Governance, is aimed at improving engagement of disadvantaged communities in governmental processes, including through education and training programs. Under Track II, the EPA expects to award approximately $40 million for 20 awards of $1 million to $3 million each.

For Track I, the EPA has identified five communities eligible for specific set-aside competitions, which will narrow the pool of competitive applications in those areas. These Target investment Areas (TIA) include the following communities and estimated funding levels:

  1. Tribes in Alaska: $150 million
  2. Tribes: $300 million
  3. Territories: $50 million
  4. Disadvantaged Unincorporated Communities: $50 million
  5. U.S.-Southern Border Communities (within 100 km of U.S.-Mexico border): $100 million

Any application for a Community Change Grant must include a community-based non-profit organization (CBO). To qualify as a CBO, an organization must demonstrate that they are a “nonprofit organization” as defined in 2 CFR § 200.1. Accordingly, a CBO would be “any corporation, trust, association, cooperative, or other organization that is operated mainly for scientific, educational, service, charitable, or similar purpose in the public interest and is not organized primarily for profit; and uses net proceeds to maintain, improve, or expand the operation of the organization.” Eligible applicants can also include partnerships between CBOs, or a partnership of a CBO and a federally-recognized tribe, a local government, or an institution of higher education. There is no cost share required to be eligible for a Community Change Grant. 

Under the grant program, a disadvantaged community can be either (a) a geographically-defined community identified as disadvantaged on the EPA IRA Disadvantaged Communities Map (i.e., CEJST and EJScreen), (b) a farmworker community, or (c) a Disadvantaged Unincorporated Community. Federally-recognized tribes are considered disadvantaged communities.

Applications will be accepted, evaluated, and awarded on a rolling basis through November 21, 2024. EPA does not guarantee funding through the end of the application period. Accordingly, interested entities should move as quickly as feasible in order to put themselves in the best position to receive one of these competitive first-come first-served grants.

For more information on this topic, or to learn how Godfrey & Kahn can help, contact Mark Bender or John Clancy.

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