For Release: Thursday, March 6, 2014
A.G. Schneiderman & DEC Commissioner Martens Announce $395k in First Grants from Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund
With Matching Funds, $600K Being Invested in 18 Environmental Improvement Projects in Brooklyn
Projects Address Greenpoint Community priorities, including enhanced open space, neighborhood greening, environmental education and stewardship fund created from $19.5M paid by ExxonMobil in settlement with State over Greenpoint oil spill
Schneiderman: We are proud to partner with the community to reclaim a cleaner, healthier environment for Greenpoint
NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens today announced the first grant awards from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund (GCEF), a $19.5 million environmental improvement fund created from money obtained by the state in a 2011 settlement with ExxonMobil over its massive oil spill in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The Attorney General's office and the DEC are jointly overseeing the program's implementation and selected the projects to be funded.
"Through the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund, New York State and Greenpoint residents are working together to help reverse the legacy of environmental abuse and neglect in this vibrant community," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "With this initial round of funding, we are investing in high-quality, locally led projects that will enhance open space, green neighborhoods, foster education and stewardship, and address other environmental improvement priorities of the community. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Greenpoint residents to make additional investments in a cleaner, healthier future for the community."
"These funds, as a result of a consent decree with ExxonMobil, will have a huge impact on the Greenpoint neighborhood in Brooklyn," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "From greening communities and buildings, restoring waterfront to offering environmental education and stewardship, the grants are a positive step toward enhancing Newtown Creek and the surrounding communities."
Today, the state is awarding $395,135 in small grants - between $5,000 and $25,000 - to 18 projects addressing the environmental improvement priorities of Greenpoint residents. The funding will be combined with $196,916 in matching funds, bringing a total of $592,055 to Greenpoint's environmental priorities.A second round of small grant awards is schedule for early 2015.
Through community meetings held in 2012 and early 2013, and attended by roughly 300 local residents and others, the program identified community priorities for environmental improvements. These priorities helped shape a Request for Proposals, released in October 2013, that solicited project funding proposals from the community. Specifically, the RFP sought full proposals for project grants of between $5,000 and $25,000 (small grants), and preliminary proposals for grants between $25,000 and $2,000,000 (large grants) and greater than $2,000,000 (legacy grants).
The RFP was previewed for the community in a September 2013 meeting attended by over 270 residents and others. This meeting also launched a program of assistance to prospective applicants for grants that included three applicant workshops and networking events, two applicant webinars, and both general and one-on-one assistance with proposal development and the application process. Hundreds of people took advantage of the assistance provided by the program.
The RFP closed in December, 2013, with the program receiving 96 requests for funding totaling $65,075,930. This total included 46 small grant proposals ($1,032,512 requested), 45 large grant pre-proposals ($35,956,495 requested), and 5 legacy grant pre-proposals ($28,086,923 requested).
Small grant proposals were scored by the program's administrator with respect to criteria presented in the RFP (i.e., environmental results, workplan, budget, Greenpoint support, and communication and results dissemination). The resulting scores served as the basis for the state's selection of the 18 grant awards being announced today. Applicants submitting preliminary proposals for large and legacy grants that are determined to meet minimum standards will be invited to submit full proposals in April; these proposals will then be scored by an independent review committee; a draft slate of awardees will be shared with the community, and awards will be announced by the state in fall 2014.
All applicants that did not receive a small grant in this round of funding will be offered one-on-one assistance by the program for the purpose of enhancing their proposals' competitiveness for next year's round of small grant funding.
The RFP, the applicant assistance program, and the small grant application evaluation process were all developed in collaboration with the Greenpoint Community Advisory Panel (CAP), an advisory group comprised of Greenpoint residents, representatives of local organizations and elected officials that provides direct, on-going input to the state. Since the fund's inception, the CAP has played an integral role in guiding the program's development and implementation.
U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloneysaid, "I am delighted that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, working through the Greenpoint Community Environment Fund, in collaboration with residents of Greenpoint, have awarded funding to a broad array of worthy projects that will benefit the community. For years, Greenpoint residents have suffered from what is likely the largest oil spill in history, and it was very important for Exxon-Mobil to give back to the community that was so adversely affected. These small grants will go a long way toward educating residents, particularly schoolchildren, about environmental concerns affecting their community and developing sound environmental solutions that will improve the neighborhood."
State Senator Martin Malavé Dilansaid, "After suffering more than a century of industrial negligence, Greenpoint is finally getting the attention it deserves. These initial grants mark the culmination of decades of community advocacy and the diligence of state environmental officials and the state Attorney General's Office. I commend Attorney General Schneiderman, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Martens, all those that submitted proposals, and especially the members of the Greenpoint Community Advisory Panel for their dedication and hard work. Each of your efforts will leave a lasting impact on the Greenpoint community that will inspire future generations of Greenpointers."
State Senator Daniel Squadronsaid, "It's a breath of fresh air to see these community-driven environmental projects come to life in North Brooklyn -- including improved open space in a community that truly needs it, as well as education and stewardship programs and greener neighborhoods. Together, we will take an important step toward reversing years of environmental damage to our community. Thank you to the Attorney General, DEC, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, North Brooklyn Development Corporation, and all the community members who are working toward a greener North Brooklyn."
Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentolsaid, "The Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund's small grant awards are a much-needed first step in reversing the long history of environmental abuse that the Greenpoint community has suffered. The excitement this Fund has created only goes to show the serious dedication that this community has in making a better Greenpoint. I congratulate the state for running an open and effective program, and look forward to the creative environmental projects that will create a positive impact on the Greenpoint community for years to come."
New York City Councilmember Stephen Levinsaid, "The Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund has presented a much-needed opportunity to invest in a healthy future for the neighborhood we all love. I appreciate the state's efforts to ensure the Fund works with and for the Greenpoint community.These projects will help improve the environment and health of our community, and I am excited to work with the community as the program is implemented."
Katie Denny, Director of Development & Communications, Socrates Sculpture Park, and a member of the GCEF's Community Advisory Panel,said, "From the beginning, the CAP worked hard to develop a transparent and fair review process, and I'm thrilled that we have reached this important milestone in the GCEF. Widespread outreach resulted in numerous worthy projects, and it is gratifying to see funding going to so many important local initiatives and community organizations. The projects funded by the state not only address Greenpoint's environmental improvement priorities, but are expected to leverage additional grants from other funding sources -- fostering deeper investment in Greenpoint for generations to come."
Ryan Kuonen, Environmental Chair, Brooklyn CB-1 and a member of the GCEF's Community Advisory Panel,said, "I congratulate the state for leading such a fair and objective process for soliciting, evaluating, and selecting projects to receive grants. The open space, greening and education projects being funded will make a real contribution to improving Greenpoint and its environment. As a member of the Fund's community advisory group, I look forward to working with fellow Greenpoint residents and the State to make sure future rounds of funding continue to serve the environmental improvement priorities of the community.
Christine Holowacz, Community Liaison, Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee, and a member of the GCEF's Community Advisory Panel,said, "With new families entering the neighborhood, environmental education is critical to raising the next generation of environmental stewards. I applaud the state for funding projects at the YMCA, local schools, and in McGolrick Park that include hands-on activities and classes focused on natural habitats, ecosystem processes, and sustainability. These projects will create lasting, personal links between home and the environment for Greenpoint students."
Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River Program Director, Riverkeeper,said, "Riverkeeper commends Attorney General Schneiderman and Commissioner Martens for working collaboratively with the community to fund projects that will connect Greenpoint residents to their local waterways and introduce new environmental education programs for neighborhood schoolchildren. We are particularly excited about the grants that will increase public access to Newtown Creek, given Riverkeeper's strong belief that the best way to protect and reclaim an urban waterway is to teach residents to value it, as an integral part of their community. These grants will go a long way to achieving this goal."
A partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Greenpoint-based North Brooklyn Development Corporation, selected through a competitive process, is administering the GCEF for the state. The administrator has day-to-day responsibility for implementing the program, including application review and grant management, fiscal and fiduciary management, community engagement and collaboration, and program tracking, recordkeeping, and reporting.
More information on the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund can be found at www.gcefund.org.
The GCEF is being overseen for Attorney General Schneiderman by Environmental Policy Advisor Peter C. Washburn and for Commissioner Martens by Michelle Moore, DEC Region 2. The state is being assisted in working with the CAP and conducting outreach to the Greenpoint community by Enviro-Sciences Engineering/ARC Engineering & Construction, P.C.