Press Release

December 20, 2023
Cardin, Van Hollen, Mfume Announce $50 Million Inflation Reduction Act Investment for Baltimore’s Green & Healthy Homes Initiative to Fund Environmental Justice Projects Across the Mid-Atlantic

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Kweisi Mfume (all D-Md.) today joined the Biden-Harris Administration in announcing Baltimore-based Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) has been selected to serve as one of 11 regional grantmakers and will receive $50 million under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaking program that was created by the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest investment in climate action in history. These funds come from the $3 billion that the EPA received through the Inflation Reduction Act to award grants and fund related technical assistance to benefit disadvantaged communities.

This new grant program, which will make it easier for small community-based organizations to access federal environmental justice funding, responds to community feedback about the need to reduce barriers to federal funds and improve the efficiency of the awards process to ensure communities that have long faced underinvestment can access the benefits of this historic funding. Communities will be able to apply to GHHI for a subgrant to fund a range of different environmental project activities, including small local clean ups, local emergency preparedness and disaster resiliency programs, environmental workforce development programs for local jobs reducing greenhouse gas emissions, fenceline air quality and asthma related projects, healthy homes programs, and projects addressing illegal dumping.

“Through the Inflation Reduction Act, we took historic action to ensure that all communities can participate in the clean energy revolution, lower energy costs, and improve health outcomes. Green & Healthy Homes has already been a vital partner in advancing that work in Baltimore, and with this major investment, we know GHHI will make an even greater impact on our path to progress for environmental justice, energy savings, and economic opportunity,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“In Maryland, we are working at every level of government to take decisive action to address climate change and protect Black, Brown, Indigenous and other vulnerable communities that are disproportionately burdened by the impacts of climate change. These federal funds will provide targeted resources to communities that are most impacted by climate change but less equipped to adapt to it,” said Senator Cardin. “The new program acknowledges that smaller, resource-strained community-based organizations have historically faced barriers in accessing federal environmental justice funding. This is a historic investment in community-based projects working towards environmental justice and supports a healthier, more equitable Maryland.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic shined a bright light on many of the structural disparities we face in America. The Biden-Harris Administration and Maryland Congressional Delegation acknowledged these disparities and committed to addressing them as we led the country through the pandemic with congressional action. The $50 million environmental justice grant announced today is an example of our work to make every American community healthier and better,” said Congressman Kweisi Mfume. “I’ve worked with the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative and its predecessor for decades, so I know this money will be used fairly to help our neighbors with the most need,” he added.

“For years, community advocates have been calling for federal support and resources to help address our country’s most pressing environmental justice concerns,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Thanks to President Biden and Vice President Harris’ leadership, we’re responding to these calls by removing barriers that have traditionally held communities and applicants back from accessing these historic investments in America. Together, in partnership with these Grantmakers, we are taking a giant step toward a future where every person in America has equal opportunity to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live a healthy, productive life.”

“This program will invest tens of millions of dollars into underserved communities in the Mid-Atlantic Region, helping people that have typically been on the outside looking in. The projects that come out of this program will clean up communities, revitalize neighborhoods, and create a strong and vibrant workforce,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz.

“We are honored to be selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to lead Region 3’s Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaking Program. GHHI brings to this Program our deeply rooted commitment to and understanding of the value of building community-based capacity to address and reverse the effects of historic disinvestment in environmental justice communities,” said Ruth Ann Norton, President and CEO of GHHI. “We applaud the EPA for its thoughtful commitment to understanding the need for deep capacity building support. The work to address environmental justice issues reflects our own understanding as a nation that every American deserves the opportunity to live in healthy and climate resilient communities.”

As a grantmaker, GHHI plans to use a strong participatory governance framework to build capacity in underserved areas. GHHI recognizes the need to reach diverse audiences using wide-ranging delivery methods and partners to leverage best practices in outreach and implementation. Moreover, GHHI will engage the community through a stakeholder advisory board, partnerships, and mechanisms for providing direct feedback to adapt frequently to the needs of communities, particularly those from disadvantaged or underserved areas. The organization will work in collaboration with EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights to issue subgrants to community-based nonprofit organizations and other eligible organizations representing disadvantaged communities.

Grantmakers are expected to begin opening competitions and awarding subgrants by summer 2024. Community-based nonprofit organizations and other eligible organizations seeking subgrant funding will be able to apply for subgrants through three concurrent tiers offered by the Grantmakers. Tier One will consist of grants for $150,000 for assessment, Tier Two will consist of grants for $250,000 for planning, and Tier Three will consist of grants for $350,000 for project development. In addition, $75,000 will be available for capacity-constrained community-based organizations through a noncompetitive process during Tier One. Each Grantmaker will design and implement a distribution program best suited for their region and communities.

The Grantmakers program is part of the Federal Interagency Thriving Communities Network and delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative which set the goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. Grantmakers will work in collaboration with the Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (EJ TCTACs) to create a robust support network to assist eligible entities when applying.