Partnering with CBOs to Advance Environmental Justice Webinar Recording and Summary
May 7, 2024

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Webinar Summary

The Local Infrastructure Hub hosted a session on April 30, 2024, to discuss how community-based organizations and mayors have collaborated to advance shared environmental justice goals. This session featured Alison Cassady, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Strategic Initiatives, Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights; Claudia Jasso, President and CEO of Amistades; Mayor Regina Romero of Tucson, AZ; Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, President and CEO of Accelerator for America; and Kate Johnson, Head of US Federal Affairs, C40.

Key Insights Shared

Projects should be rooted in the community

When discussing the IRA’s Community Change Grants, Alison Cassady highlighted that these projects must include a community-based nonprofit organization (CBO) partnership because they are connected to, support, and/or represent a community. The Community Change Grant Program requires that applicants must be a partnership of two community-based non-profit organizations; or a community-based non-profit organization and a Federally-Recognized Tribe, a local government, or an institution of higher education. 

Alison also highlighted that while project applications should highlight climate resilience and pollution reduction strategies, they also need to outline community engagement and collaboration throughout the whole project (Track 1); or outline what programs will be established to help engage disadvantaged communities to advance environmental and climate justice, especially through involving these communities in government decision-making (Track 2).

Take advantage of technical assistance opportunities

Cities have already been engaging community-based organizations in climate planning, and with the IRA, there is actually money available to implement holistic strategies to increase climate resilience. Therefore, partners should take advantage of technical assistance opportunities to ensure a successful application. Through EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights (OEJECR), eligible entities can receive technical assistance in all stages of the Community Change Grants, including application support, capacity building, project planning, and more. Partners should reach out to their regional offices for support.

Cities and CBOs must work together to develop shared goals, mutual respect, and trust

Mayor Romero of Tucson discussed the Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving (EJCPS) award in partnership with Amistades to address the city’s critical heat severity and its disproportionate impact on Latino communities. Mayor Romero believes that the success of this partnership is due to the fact that Amistades is committed to complementing the city’s greater climate action plan while increasing community engagement and participation.

Communities know their needs best

Claudia Jasso discussed how communities are their own best advocates and should have the power to elevate what they most need. As such, a CBO should not dictate community objectives but, instead, should provide the resources to help those communities reach their goals. She stated that in the partnership between the City of Tucson and Amistades, the power will be held by the community to both understand and combat the extreme heat. The partners are there to uplift and provide support.

Local Infrastructure Hub Bootcamp Materials

The Local Infrastructure Hub is here to support cities in communicating the success of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-funded projects through a mix of webinars, practical tools, and templates. Our webinars and Grant Application Bootcamps can guide you through different application processes and actionable steps to submit a strong application.

Register for our Local Infrastructure Hub Bootcamps now to receive technical assistance for city staff on relevant tools and templates that can be applied to grant applications; learn how to build community engagement plans and leverage community assets; understand how to effectively incorporate data into the grant application process; and how to construct a strong budget and grant narrative.

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