Environmental Justice Small Grants and Funding Opportunities

New Environmental Justice Small Grant Cycle Open

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.

CalEPA is requesting new EJ Small Grant applications through March 21, 2019.

Maximum Available Per Project: $50,000

Grant Term: 12 months

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.

“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.

Focus Areas

Priority is given to projects that adress the most significant exposure(s) to pollution, including projects that address one or more of the following goals. This cycle’s program goals are informed by the State’s consistent priority in addressing cumulative health and pollution burdens, and socioeconomic vulnerabilities and improving access to State resources, programs, and decision making processes. 

Grant applicants are asked to demonstrate in their applications how their projects will address one or more of the following:

  1. Improve Access To Safe and Clean Water. Water is one of the most basic human needs. Safe and clean water is needed for human consumption and for cooking, cleaning, and sanitation – yet safe, clean, affordable and accessible water sources are not always available to all Californians. Increasing all communities’ access to a reliable and healthy water supply is a goal of CalEPA.
  2. Address Climate Change Impacts Through Community Led Solutions. Climate change is intensifying the stresses facing communities throughout the State. Disadvantaged communities are particularly vulnerable to both the air pollution that contributes to climate change and the impacts of a rapidly changing climate. Community-led projects can encourage residents to seek local solutions to climate change while obtaining immediate economic and public health benefits.  Examples of these projects may include: improving community resilience through increased energy efficiency; increasing green space and tree cover in urban centers; improving water conservation; and increasing access to safe biking and walking routes.
  3. Reduce The Potential For Exposure To Pesticides And Toxic Chemicals. Exposure to pesticides and toxic chemicals can have many negative health effects, especially to vulnerable populations such as children and pregnant women. There are several ways to prevent or guard against exposure to these substances in order to protect human health and the environment. This can include efforts to reduce or eliminate pollution before it is generated. It may also include measures to minimize or prevent exposure where chemicals and pesticides are used.
  4. Promote Community Capacity Building — Improve Communities’ And Tribes’ Understanding Of The Technical And Procedural Aspects Of Environmental Decision-Making And Increase Access to Funding Opportunities. Capacity building enables all members of a tribe or community, including the most disadvantaged and sensitive, to develop skills and competencies to meaningfully participate in decision-making. Community capacity building helps communities become more resilient and improves the State’s ability to address environmental impacts and challenges. Through community capacity building efforts, community residents often become active participants in pollution tracking and in designing healthy alternatives to heavy-industry. Examples of these efforts include training and educational programs on governance and regulatory processes, as well as efforts to build cross-media environmental curricula.
    Lack of funding is also consistently cited as a barrier to the implementation of green infrastructure in disadvantaged communities. One advantage that green infrastructure projects offer is that they generate benefits that can promote economic vitality while being kind to the environment. Community residents can provide leadership to help conserve California’s precious resources, protect and enhance our environment, while also improving economies where they live. Many communities are already doing so by providing education, job training, and job opportunities to disadvantaged community residents.
  5. Promote The Development Of Community-Based Research That Protects And Enhances Public Health And The Environment. Community-based research is a meaningful, collaborative effort between academic researchers and community members that aims to generate social action and positive environmental change through the use of multiple knowledge sources and research methods. Academic-community partnerships can enhance understanding of a community’s environmental issues, which could include the community’s vulnerability to the effects of climate change, and can facilitate the integration of research outcomes with community-based solutions.
  6. Addressing Cumulative Impacts Through Collaboration Between Community-Based Organizations and Local Government. Many low-income communities and communities of color throughout the state face significant environmental and health problems, as a result of the cumulative impacts of pollution. With participation from community-based organizations and local government, cumulative impacts analyses provide an opportunity for a more complete picture of environmental burdens and impacts, by examining multiple chemicals, multiple pollution sources, public health and environmental effects, and characteristics of the population that influence health outcomes.
  7. Promoting Pollution Prevention and Resource Conservation. Californians have made great strides in their commitment to environmental conservation and many now embrace a variety of environmentally friendly habits to help support a healthy environment. Californians are also showing that conservation is an important matter at the individual level, and that even the smallest changes can have a big impact on our environment. Efforts to increase personal practices and behavior patterns such as taking shorter showers, limiting landscape watering, transforming landscapes, and buying and using reusable products can have long lasting effects, including in communities that are disproportionately burdened by pollution sources.
  8. Developing Effective Partnerships With Schools. In all efforts to address pollution and to improve human and environmental health, effective partnerships with schools, and the development of K-12 curricula, can lead to more comprehensive and lasting change. Training youth, who will lead environmental efforts in the future, is critical to ensuring long-term success for environmental, environmental justice, and equity driven initiatives. Schools may also offer convenient gathering places for parents, teachers, and school administrators to learn more about environmental and public health issues affecting their communities and to become involved in environmental decision-making as well as other capacity building efforts. 

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: 

  • 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 hearings, workshops, and outreach in non-English speaking communities;
  • Supporting community or tribal member participation in governmental environmental public meetings;
  • 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; and  
  • Developing and/or implementing environmental curricula or programs that teach and promote daily applications of environmental conservation and sustainability.

Pre-Assistance Calls

The CalEPA Environmental Justice Small Grants Program will be hosting three pre-application assistance calls in late February 2019.  Information shared on these calls will be the same. The call dates and their respective meeting ID codes, and times are as follows:

Interested persons may access the pre-application assistance calls by dialing toll free 1-888-240-2560 and then entering the respective meeting code listed under the call date participating in below, when prompted.

Conference Call Number: 1-888-240-2560

(Each meeting ID code is different for each call date, see below)



Meeting ID Code


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Meeting ID Code: 869 531 833

6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Meeting ID Code: 771 000 316

6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Meeting ID Code: 766 379 269

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

During the call, the CalEPA Environmental Justice Small Grants Program will cover pre-application information, highlight project themes, an overview of eligibility, eligible and ineligible costs, reporting requirements and answer any general questions.  During the call, CalEPA will not answer any questions regarding specific projects or proposals.

Application Deadline

Applications must be mailed to the CalEPA Headquarters Building, mailing address: P.O. Box 2815, Sacramento, California, 95812-2815, or hand-delivered to the CalEPA Headquarters Building, located at 1001 I Street, Sacramento, California, 95814, and received in the CalEPA Environmental Justice Small Grants Program office by 5:00 pm, March 21, 2019.  United State Postal Service postmarks by the March 21, 2019 deadline will be accepted.

Applications submitted or postmarked after the final deadline date will not be accepted or considered for the above application cycle.

Download Application Materials HERE:

CalEPA Environmental Justice Grants Program:

Mailing Address
CalEPA Headquarters Building
P.O. Box 2815
Sacramento, California 95812-2815

Physical Address
CalEPA Headquarters Building
1001 I Street
Sacramento, California 95814

Questions or For More Information
For more information on the EJ Small Grants, please contact:

Ms. Malinda Dumisani
EJ Small Grants Program Manager
E-mail: Malinda.Dumisani@calepa.ca.gov
Phone: (916) 445-9480

Previously Awarded 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.

For General Questions regarding the EJ Small Grants, contact:

Ms. Malinda Dumisani
EJ Small Grants Program Manager
E-mail: Malinda.Dumisani@calepa.ca.gov | Phone: (916) 445-9480