Small Grants and Funding Opportunities

The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) Environmental Justice (EJ) Small Grants are available to help 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.

"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."

2016 Environmental Justice Small Grants Awarded

Applications were accepted through January 22, 2016. Grant recipients were announced in July 2016. See press release. For the next cycle’s funding availability, please sign up for CalEPA’s Environmental Justice listserv to receive information as it becomes available.

The maximum amount of a grant provided is $50,000. Public Resources Code Section 71116(i). The grant term is 12 months.


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.

2016 Grant Program Goals

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:

  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 to prevent dehydration, for cooking, for cleaning and for health needs - yet safe, clean water is 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 engage residents to seek local solutions to climate change while obtaining immediate economic and public health benefits. Examples of these projects may include saving money and improving community resilience through energy efficiency, greening communities, water conservation and increased biking and walking.

  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 and environmental health. 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 legally.
  4. Promote Community Capacity Building -- Improve Communities’ And Tribes’ Understanding Of The Technical And Procedural Aspects Of Environmental Decision-Making
    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 better able to address environmental impacts and challenges. Examples of these efforts include training and educational programs on governance and regulatory processes.

  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 integrate research outcomes with community-based solutions.

  6. Address Cumulative Impacts Through Collaboration Between Community-Based Organizations And Local Government
    Many low-income and minority communities in the state face significant environmental and health problems as a result of the cumulative impacts of pollution. Cumulative impact analysis, with participation from community-based organizations and local government, provides an opportunity for a more complete picture of environmental burdens and impacts by examining multiple chemicals, multiple sources, public health and environmental effects, and characteristics of the population that influence health outcomes.

Application Deadline for 2016 Closed

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

Ms. Malinda Dumisani
EJ Small Grants Program Manager
Phone: (916) 445-9480

Previously Awarded Environmental Justice Small Grants

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