Environmental Justice Small Grants and Funding Opportunities

The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) Environmental Justice (EJ) Small Grants Program offers funding opportunities authorized by California Code of Regulations Title 27, Division 1, Chapter 3, Article 1 to assist eligible non-profit community organizations and federally-recognized Tribal governments address environmental justice issues in areas disproportionately affected by environmental pollution and hazards. The EJ Small Grants are awarded on a competitive basis.

2021 Notice of Funding Availability

In March 2021, CalEPA announced it is accepting applications for its 2021 grant cycle. For each project, the maximum grant amount is $50,000. CalEPA plans to announce the grant awards in the fall of 2021. The grant term will be 18 months, approximately from fall 2021 through Spring 2023.

The 2021 cycle application deadline has been extended to Friday, August 13, 2021, to allow more time for grant applicants to put together strong application proposals. The previous application deadline was June 30, 2021. Applications must be either sent to the EJ Grants Program mailbox (Email address: EnvJustice@calepa.ca.gov) or mailed to CalEPA on or before the application deadline, Friday, August 13, 2021. Hand delivered applications will not be accepted. Applications sent after the application deadline will not be accepted or considered. Please see the Applications and Instructions document below for details on how to submit an application.

In 2020, CalEPA awarded more than $1 million in grants for 28 projects. Read the 2020 project summaries and the press release.

Grants Program

Maximum Available Per Project: $50,000

Grant Term: 18 months

Application Deadline: August 13, 2021.
The application and instructions may be downloaded below. The maximum amount per project is $50,000. The application deadline has been extended and is now August 13, 2021. The previous application deadline was June 30, 2021.

Eligibility: Eligible applicants are limited to non-profit entities or federally recognized Tribal governments. A “non-profit entity” is defined as any corporation, trust, association, cooperative, or other organization that meets all of the following criteria:

  1. Operates primarily for scientific, educational, service, charitable, or other similar purposes in the public interest.
  2. Not organized primarily for profit.
  3. Uses its net proceeds to maintain, improve, or expand, or any combination thereof, its operations.
  4. Is a tax-exempt organization under federal Internal Revenue Code Section 501 (c)(3), or is able to provide evidence that the State of California recognizes the organizations as a non-profit entity.

Individuals and organizations that are tax exempt under federal Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(4) are not eligible to apply for this funding. Other IRS 501(c) tax exempt organizations that are not specifically 501(c)(3) are not eligible.

“Environmental justice” is defined in Government Code section 65040.12 as “the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”

Grants are awarded on a competitive basis for projects that are based in communities with the most significant exposure to pollution. Grants are awarded for the following statutory purposes as defined in Public Resources Code Section 71116:

  1. Distribution of information to help resolve environmental problems;
  2. Identification of improvements in communication and coordination between stakeholders and CalEPA, and its Boards, Departments, and Office (BDOs), in order to address the most significant exposure(s) to pollution;
  3. Improvement of community or tribal government understanding about environmental issues that affect its community or tribal government;
  4. Promotion of community or tribal government involvement in the decision-making process that affects the environment of the community/tribal government; and
  5. Enhancement of community/tribal government understanding of environmental information systems and environmental information.

2021 Pre-Application June & July 2021 Assistance Webinars

June and July 2021 (Four) Webinars. Potential applicants were also invited to participate in three June 2021 webinars hosted by CalEPA to address questions about the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program’s 2021 Grant Cycle solicitation. The webinars were held June 1, 2, and 3, 2021.

On July 28, 2021, potential applicants were also invited to participate in a virtual online webinar jointly hosted by CalEPA and California Air Resources Board’s Community Air Grant Program to highlight how to develop and write an effective grant proposal. CalEPA responded to questions from potential applicants regarding threshold eligibility criteria, administrative issues related to the submission of the proposal, and requests for clarification about application process.

Frequently asked questions during the webinars and the powerpoint presentation provided can be downloaded below.

June & July 2021 CalEPA EJ Grant Pre-Application Assistance Webinars:

o        June Webinars Powerpoint Presentation (.pdf, 842 KB)

o        July Webinar Developing Competitive Grant Proposal Powerpoint Presentation (.pdf, 1 MB)

o        Pre-Assistance Webinars Frequently Asked Questions- updated 8/6/2021 (.pdf, 218KB)

2021 Sample Project Focus Areas

  1. Develop Community Led Solutions to Climate Change Mitigation, Adaption, and Resilience Challenges
  2. Improve Access to Safe and Clean Water
  3. Reduce Pollution, Exposure to Pesticides, and Toxic Chemicals, and Promote Resource Conservation
  4. Build and Strengthen Collaborative Efforts to Enhance Local Capacity and to Uplift and Build Community Knowledge
  5. Engage California Communities and Tribes in Multi-Benefit and Cooperative Strategies to Protect and Restore Biodiversity, and Natural and Cultural Resources

Project Activity Examples 

Proposed projects should have a clear focus on community specific environmental issues that address community or tribal interests.  Examples of project activities that are eligible include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Disseminating information about environmental challenges and decision making processes
  • Enhancing local capacity to respond, adapt and prepare for climate change impacts
  • Ensuring safe drinking water
  • Guarding against toxic exposures and increasing resource conversation locally
  • Designing and implementing collaborative efforts to preserve the State’s natural and cultural resources with an emphasis on traditional ecological knowledge and tribal sciences
  • Bolstering increased community access to a reliable and healthy water supply
  • Improving community resilience through one or more of the following activities:
    • Increasing energy efficiency and diversifying energy sources
    • Emergency planning to respond to wildfires and to develop response methods for floods and sea level rise,
    • Increasing green space and tree cover in urban centers
    • Improving water conservation within a community or group of communities
    • Increasing access to safe biking and walking routes
  • Identifying and assisting environmental justice stakeholders to participate in decision-making processes
  • Collaborating with academia or governmental entities to collect data in communities affected by environmental justice issues and exposure(s) to pollution
  • Providing technical tools, information, or protocols to improve community or tribal government knowledge and understanding of issues related to environmental pollution and hazards
  • Enhancing community or tribal government understanding of environmental issues affecting their particular community or tribe
  • Improving communication and coordination among environmental justice stakeholders and CalEPA entities to address exposures to environmental pollution and hazards
  • Providing bilingual services for online or social distanced hearings, and workshops outreach in non-English speaking communities
  • Supporting community or tribal member participation in governmental environmental processes.
  • Promoting community and/or tribal government involvement in addressing environmental justice related issues, and developing solutions to address them
  • Providing farm workers pesticide-related environmental and health information
  • Promoting environmental justice, public health, sustainability, and climate resilience
  • Developing an emergency management plan, or promoting participation in the process of developing emergency management plans by local, regional and state government entities
  • Developing and/or implementing environmental curricula or programs that teach and promote daily applications of environmental conservation and sustainability

Download 2021 EJ Small Grants Application & Documents:

The application deadline has been extended. The 2021 cycle application deadline is now August 13, 2021. The previous application was June 30, 2021.

General Questions Regarding 2021 EJ Grants Contact:

Leticia Syslo
(916) 323-2514

Award Recipients and Project Summaries

Grant applicants were asked to demonstrate in their applications how their projects will address one or more of the following EJ Small Grant Program goals in communities that are disproportionately affected by environmental pollution or are especially sensitive to environmental pollution due to socio-economic factors.

California Grants Portal

The State of California has launched the California Grants Portal – your one destination to find all state grant and loan opportunities provided on a first-come or competitive basis. Visit the California Grants Portal at grants.ca.gov to find funding opportunities for your community.