CalEPA Environmental Justice (EJ) Small Grants

California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA)

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Predicted Deadline
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Predicted deadline: Aug 13, 2022 5:00pm PDT

Grant amount: Up to US $50,000

Fields of work: Environmental Justice & Advocacy Environmental Contamination & Pollution Sanitation & Clean Drinking Water

Applicant type: Nonprofit, Indigenous Group

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program

Location of project: California

Location of residency: California


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.

“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.”

  • Maximum Available Per Project. The maximum amount of a grant provided is $50,000.
  • Grant Term. 12 months.

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:

  • Distribution of information to help resolve environmental problems;
  • 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;
  • Improvement of community or tribal government understanding about environmental issues that affect its community or tribal government;
  • Promotion of community or tribal government involvement in the decision-making process that affects the environment of the community/tribal government; and
  • Enhancement of community/tribal government understanding of environmental information systems and environmental information.

Projects are prioritized by those addressing 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:

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.   

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • 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:
      • Operates primarily for scientific, educational, service, charitable, or other similar purposes in the public interest.
      • Not organized primarily for profit.
      • Uses its net proceeds to maintain, improve, or expand, or any combination thereof, its operations.
      • 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.

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This page was last reviewed October 20, 2021 and last updated June 09, 2021