The Race to Equitable and Inclusive Investment in Frontline Communities

Register here to Attend the Upcoming Collaborative Webinar with USDN and Justice40 Accelerator, EPN, and Anthropocene Alliance on March 2nd!

Under the Biden-Harris Administration we are witnessing once-in-a-lifetime investment to improve America’s crumbling infrastructure, increase climate adaptation and resilience, and expand renewable energies, energy efficiency, and climate and environmental justice.  This unprecedented funding is being allocated through various funding streams to states, local jurisdictions, tribal communities, and community-centered nonprofit organizations.  

However, we face challenges making sure the billions of federal dollars are allocated in an equitable and inclusive manner to assure the communities most vulnerable to climate threats, known as frontline and/or fenceline communities, are receiving their fair share.

To support SSDN’s Southeast Sustainable Recovery Center, the network has developed an innovative model to help overcome this hurdle dubbed Revitalizing Economies through Local Alliances to Achieve Equity (R.E.L.A.A.E).  The R.E.L.A.A.E model provides guidance and technical assistance to jurisdictions and frontline organizations to navigate and take advantage of federal, state and private investment opportunities to achieve equity and sustainability.

We realize achieving R.E.L.A.A.E.’s ambitious goals is not a sprint, but a relay designed to broker equity and inclusion among traditionally underserved communities, the organizations that serve them, and decision makers in the public domain.  We understand patience is necessary to build strong relationships that lead to trusted partnerships to assist community-based organizations to build their capacity to access funding, and to create healthy and sustainable communities. 

To support this model, SSDN has adopted the Collaborative Impact (CI) and Achieving Sustainability through Education and Economic Development Solutions (ASEEDS) approaches that are both designed to foster trusted relationships between sustainability and local government officials, community based organizations, and other strategic partners to build their respective capacity to take advantage of federal and state funding opportunities.  With increased federal assistance opportunities via the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and with federal agencies implementing the Justice40 Initiative in existing and new authorities, there are significant present and upcoming opportunities for local governments to collaborate with community-based organizations to pursue federal funding. Through collaborating on federal funding applications, such applications can advance local government priorities as well as ensure the benefits are received by underserved or disadvantaged communities.

In order to help increase awareness of these federal funding opportunities, as well as help connect local governments and community-based organizations with resources and technical assistance to help apply for federal funding, SSDN, USDN, and the Justice40 Accelerator are collaborating on a webinar on EPA's Environmental Justice grant opportunities. This webinar will cover the EPA's Collaborative Problem-Solving and Government-to-Government Programs and will feature SSDN and USDN member City of Knoxville, Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development, Anthropocene Alliance, Elevate, and Mississippi Citizens United for Prosperity and their experiences with navigating federal funding. In addition to hearing from local government and community-based organizations, this webinar will also highlight tools, resources, and technical assistance opportunities to support authentic community engagement and applications for federal funding.

Register here and attend the upcoming webinar on March 2nd, at 12:00 pm ET - more details below:


More information on the EPA's two most immediate funding opportunities currently available:

Environmental Justice Government-to-Government Program: Grant to government agencies partnered with community based organizations to pursue environmental justice projects.

  • Financial:  Up to $1 Million
  • Eligible Entities: Local or state governments working with community-based organizations

Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving Grant Program:  Grant to government agencies partnered with Community Based Organizations to pursue environmental justice projects.

  • Financial:  Up to $500,000
  • Eligible Entities: Community-based nonprofit organization or a partnership of CBOs

Under both EJCPS and EJG2G programs, EPA will be giving special consideration to the following focus areas:

  • Projects addressing climate change, disaster resiliency, and/or emergency preparedness 
  • Projects located in and/or benefitting rural areas 
  • Projects conducting Health Impact Assessments (HIA)  

These applications are due by April 14, 2023, 11:59 EST to be considered for the available funding with an anticipated start date of October 1, 2023.

For more information, please view the EPA’s Environmental Justice website or the opportunities on 

For individuals not yet ready to pursue a federal funding opportunity, you can still help inform how EPA will be implementing the Environmental and Climate Justice Block Grant. EPA has posted a request for information for how they should implement this new Inflation Reduction Act program. Interested individuals, governments, or organizations can learn more and help respond to inform this program by visiting EPA’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program website.


Click here to sign up for SSDN’s Multimedia Environmental Finance Center biweekly newsletter for information on current and anticipated future federal funding opportunities as SSDN, USDN, and partner organizations support efforts for local governments and community-based organizations to advance equitable sustainability priorities.