Michigan allocates $12 million to support community-based organizations in advancing environmental and climate justice

Thursday, at the second annual MI Healthy Climate Conference, Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II announced two new state programs to support community-based organizations, tribal governments, and local governments in leveraging environmental justice and climate-related funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

The Climate Justice Challenge and the MI Healthy Climate (MHC) Justice40 Technical Assistance Program were developed by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s (EGLE) Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate and Office of Climate and Energy (OCE) in coordination with the Michigan Infrastructure Office (MIO).

“Local organizations like community action agencies, tribal governments, local governments, and civic organizations are leading the fight against climate change and making a difference for Michiganders in every corner of our state,” said Gilchrist. “The state of Michigan is committed to helping these organizations access the resources they need to drive even greater change on the ground. Today, I am excited to launch the Climate Justice Challenge and the MI Healthy Climate Justice40 Technical Assistance Program to connect these organizations to technical assistance, expertise, matching grant funds, and other resources so they can win federal funding from our partners in the Biden-Harris Administration. Let’s continue working together to grow Michigan’s economy, lead the nation on climate, and protect Michigan for future generations.”

Under the new Climate Justice Challenge, the State of Michigan has made available up to $11 million in grant and technical assistance funding to maximize federal investments in Michigan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grants (CCG). These resources will support addressing environmental and climate justice challenges in communities across the state. Community-based organizations across Michigan are now eligible to apply for match funding to support applications to the CCG. The EPA’s CCG program makes unprecedented funding available to community-based organizations to implement projects that combat climate change, increase resiliency in communities, and address historical environmental injustices.

The Climate Justice Challenge will break down barriers to accessing the CCG by helping eligible applicants access and navigate the grant application process. The EPA’s CCG is a $2 billion funding opportunity that represents a significant opportunity for community-led projects to receive funding between $10 million and $20 million. However, many community-based organizations lack the necessary capacity to contend with the application requirements.

The Climate Justice Challenge seeks to address that barrier by offering up to $10 million, in addition to an extra $1 million designated for MIO Technical Assistance Center (TAC) to assist successful recipients of the EPA’s CCG with federal grant management, compliance, and reporting. Interested applicants to the EPA’s CCG opportunity can request access to the Climate Justice Challenge funding through this portal prior to submitting their official application and prior to July 1, 2024. Find more information about the Challenge and the Community Change Grants opportunity at EGLE’s webpage on EPA Community Change Grants at www.michigan.gov/egle/regulatory-assistance/grants-and-financing/multi/epa-community-change.

Through the Make it in Michigan Competitiveness Fund’s Climate Justice Challenge, these resources support the implementation of the MI Healthy Climate Plan while empowering community-based organizations to lead transformational initiatives and ensure that communities have the resources needed to drive meaningful change.

MI Healthy Climate Justice40 Technical Assistance ProgramThe new MHC Justice40 Technical Assistance Program is a 12-month, cohort-based program for community-based organizations to implement the MI Healthy Climate Plan by giving them the resources they need to serve disadvantaged communities with technical assistance and training to apply for and deploy state and federal climate-related funding.

Chosen applicants will receive a participation grant, one-on-one support, training in grant applications and management, and technical assistance in grant writing or other technical needs. The program will open for applications soon. Resources for this program are made available from EGLE to ensure the equitable implementation of the MI Healthy Climate Plan. EGLE will administer the program in
coordination with the MIO TAC. For more information, check back at EGLE’s OCE website at www.michigan.gov/egle/about/organization/climate-and-energy.

The federal Justice40 Initiative calls for disadvantaged communities to receive at least 40 percent of the benefits from climate and clean energy projects. The state’s MI Healthy Climate Plan has committed to meeting that goal and seeks to exceed it.

“Every Michigander, no matter where they live, deserves access to a safe, healthy community,” said Phil Roos, EGLE director. “EGLE and our partners across the state of Michigan are proud to partner with community-based organizations as we work to make that vision a reality for everyone. Through the Make it in Michigan Competitiveness Fund and EGLE resources, we’re providing critical financial support to community-based organizations and connecting communities to millions of dollars of federal grants and support. This initiative, combined with EGLE’s Environmental Justice Impact Grants announced earlier this week, exemplifies our commitment to empowering communities and advancing environmental and climate justice statewide."

“It is critical as we invest in communities with historical inequities that we help support those communities as they build capacity,” said Regina Strong, head of EGLE’s Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate. “By layering resources like the Environmental Justice Impact Grants and the Climate Justice Challenge that are designed to address issues in environmental justice communities we can have a lasting impact on the people in Michigan who most need it and that is an important element of advancing equity.”

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