The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network’s grant committee received thirty-two applications for the Mini Fund grant applications! It was difficult to choose among the many compelling applications. After careful review, the Grant Committee selected nine awardees. There were many more organizations that we would have loved to support financially; we would love to build our relationship-support with them all.
We are excited to share the nine awardees with you all. We are also thrilled to support environmental justice work in its intersectional form – recognizing that “ecological violence is first and foremost a form of social violence, driven by and legitimated by social structures and discourses.” Thus, among the awardees is support for labor rights, police violence, and economic justice. We look forward to hearing from all the awardees on their work in the 2024 NCEJN Summit!
Here are the awardees:
- North of the River Association (NOTRA)
- Concerned Citizens of West Badin Community
- Concerned Citizens of Sampson County
- Winyah Rivers Alliance
- Bingham Park Environmental Justice Team Project
- Seeds of H.O.P.E. (Holding On to Purpose Everyday)
- Refund Raleigh
- UE 150
- NC & MidSouth Operations Hispanic Federation
North of the River Association (NOTRA), of Pitt County, has been working to fight air and water pollution in Black and brown communities. They have already been successful in two endeavors: defeating Compute North (a crypto-mining data operator) and, more recently, stopping the development of a new gas station in their community, after 5 years of organizing. Lisa Tyson, of NOTRA, told us that they are “looking forward to empowering our work in the community!”
The Concerned Citizens of West Badin Community have been advocating for the clean up from Alcoa in the primarily Black community of West Badin, NC. Alcoa operated in Badin for nearly a century, exposing Black workers and families to hazardous materials which can still be found buried in their community.
Concerned Citizens of Sampson County will use the funds to conduct private water and soil testing for hazardous chemicals around the Sampson County toxic dump in Roseboro, NC, and then to inform the community in Snow Hill that lives in proximity to this toxic dump about the health risks and dangers associated with the toxins from the landfill. The Concerned Citizens of Sampson County express “sincere gratitude to the NCEJN Mini fund grant team for investing resources to empower our community to organize and unite against toxic pollutants, to create a healthier and more sustainable future for all.”
Winyah Rivers Alliance’s awarded project is to advance environmental justice work in the NC portion of the greater Winya Bay watershed. Their team, led by Jefferson Curri II, the Lumber Riverkeeper, will continue and expand grassroots advocacy work protecting the waterways and communities in these watersheds, applying local, regional, and state level work to influence positive changes that benefit the health of our natural systems and the communities that rely on them. The team shared that they are “so grateful for NCEJN’s support to help us with the many environmental justice issues we face in the Lumber River Basin, and will be so pleased to share the results of our work in mid-October 2024.”
Bingham Park Environmental Justice Team Project serves and is primarily active in neighborhoods of East Greensboro adjacent to Bingham Park such as Cottage Grove, Willow Oaks, and Eastside Park. The demographic make-up of this area is (79.6%) African American, (10.8%) White, (8.7%) Hispanic/Latinx, and (3.6%) Asian. They will work to expand to the Greater Greensboro area to increase knowledge and advocacy, and partner with other groups. Upon receiving word of the award, Tiarra Brown, Director of Community Engagement, wrote, “With this support, our team plans to expand advocacy efforts in East Greensboro, an area facing disinvestment and lacking resources. Environmental justice is pivotal to addressing disparities in our community, ensuring that all residents, regardless of their background, have equal access to a healthy and safe environment. This mini-fund will enable the Bingham Park Environmental Justice Team to broaden initiatives, including youth and civic groups, with a focus on the pre-regulatory landfill site in Bingham Park. This initiative aligns with our vision for a better future, fostering inclusivity and striving for positive, lasting change. Once again, thank you for this invaluable support.”
Seeds of H.O.P.E. (Holding On to Purpose Everyday), born from the disaster recovery after Hurricanes Matthew and Florence in Robeson County, will use the funds to support initiating the research, conversation, and mobilization in a way that reflects an economical and political upshift within a distressed community, neglected and left unprotected environmentally and economically. Seeds of H.O.P.E. seeds to serve South Lumberton and Fairmont, NC in Robeson County, also known as the Greater South Lumberton Area. Adrienne Kennedy, Executive Director of Seeds of H.O.P.E., told us that NCEJN’s “financial giving will help us impact more people as we live up to your mission and vision in environmental justice issues. South Lumberton and its neighborhoods have been in a state of socio-economic famine in the areas of development and this is a transitional and trying time for many grassroots and growing nonprofits. In order to champion the battles, sustenance and zeal are tantamount. We thank you for providing a base for the mounting of our journey of resiliency.”
Refund Raleigh recognizes the issue of police violence to be connected to the struggle for economic justice. The connection is twofold: 1) police brutalize and criminalize the working class and express firm opposition to organized labor and movements, and 2) the State uses working people’s tax dollars to fund policing rather than social safety nets that would ensure the health, safety, and social wellbeing of our communities. In the long-term, Refund Raleigh intends to create democratic, people-led governance assemblies, which would inspire and develop a structure where community members are empowered to run for city council and continue to be accountable to the People’s Assemblies and our Budget Platform. Their work seeks to engage working-class people and organizations in local politics, develop and empower local leaders, as well as provide a model of what participatory democracy can look like in the US South and the rest of the United States.
UE Local 150 stands up for public employees throughout NC, with union members in 16 counties across NC from Kinston to Morganton. They are primarily African-American public service workers, including mental health technicians, sanitation workers, and university housekeepers, all impacted by environmental hazards, either at work or in their communities. We would like to engage these members during 2024 on a broad educational campaign that connects the issues of workers rights and economic and racial justice to those of environmental justice. Dante Strobino, of UE local 150, shared that “We deeply appreciate the NC Environmental Justice Network supporting the work of the Southern Worker Justice Campaign. We know that environmental justice and worker justice are deeply intertwined. When workers don’t have input to their jobs, it allows the corporations to operate without accountability to destroy our communities environmental and economic well being.”
NC & MidSouth Operations Hispanic Federation will use the funds to support their Escuelita Comunitaria de Justicia Ambiental (Environmental Justice Community School). This initiative aims to establish a dedicated space for Latines residing in the rural areas of Duplin County and neighboring regions. Through this program, participants will have the opportunity to share their experiences while gaining valuable insights into topics such as climate change, climate-related disasters, community organizing, and advocacy. Latine immigrants face unique challenges which affect how they prepare for, are affected by, and recover from climate-induced hurricanes and flooding. These inequities present a clear challenge to achieving environmental justice in ENC.