On April 13, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of 17 Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (EJ TCTACs) that will receive $177 million to help underserved and overburdened communities across the country access funds from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, including historic investments to advance environmental justice.
The EJ TCTAC program is part of the Federal Interagency Thriving Communities Network. These centers are being developed in direct response to feedback from communities and environmental justice leaders asking for readily accessible technical assistance to help with their long-term environmental justice goals and to help build their capacity to access federal and other resources. As Administrator Michael Regan explained when he announced the funding: “For far too long, overburdened, underserved, and rural communities have lacked the resources and technical assistance they need from the federal government to overcome barriers critical to their energy needs and create new, long-lasting economic opportunities.”
These resources will be delivered by the EPA in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, which allows the EJ TCTACs to provide support for identifying community opportunities for clean energy transition and financing options, including public-private partnerships supporting clean energy demonstration, deployment, workforce development and outreach opportunities that advance energy justice objectives, strengthen energy security, and help meet climate goals.
Under this program, each of the EJ TCTACs will be funded at least $10 million incrementally over a five-year project period, to remove barriers and improve accessibility to federal grant funding for communities with environmental justice concerns. These centers will provide training, translation and interpretation services for limited English-speaking participants, and other assistance to build capacity for navigating federal grant application systems, writing strong grant proposals, and effectively managing grant funding. These investments are separate from and in addition to the Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaking Program, for which applications are due May 31, 2023.
The 17 centers will provide comprehensive coverage for the entire United States through a network of over 160 partners including community-based organizations, additional academic institutions, and other stakeholders, so that more communities can access federal funding opportunities made available through the Inflation Reduction Act. The EPA has selected three national EJ TCTACs that will provide assistance across the country, with particular capacity to assist Indian tribes, and which will coordinate with the regional TCTACs, develop national databases/clearinghouses, host TCTAC summits, and provide other overarching services:
- International City/County Management Association, which will partner with the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (academic, tribal), the National League of Cities (elected officials, local government), the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (local government), and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (local government, community organizations.
- Institute for Sustainable Communities, which will partner with Atma Connect, a non-profit technology organization, and the American Society for Adaptation Professionals, a non-profit association.
- National Indian Health Board, which will partner with tribal communities nationwide.
The EPA has selected the following 14 organizations to serve as regional EJ TCTACs, along with their partners:
- Region 1: University of Connecticut
- Region 2: West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc., and Inter-American University of Puerto Rico-Metro Campus
- Region 3: National Wildlife Federation
- Region 4: Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, and Research Triangle Institute
- Region 5: Blacks in Green, and University of Minnesota
- Region 6: New Mexico State University, and Deep South Center for Environmental Justice
- Region 7: Wichita State University
- Region 9: University of Arizona, and San Diego State University
- Region 10: Willamette Partnership, and University of Washington
The centers are currently scheduled to operate from June 2023 to June 2028. The EPA has provided a summary of the goals, project description and partners of each selectee. According to the EPA, additional award information for each selectee will be announced this summer.