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Environmental Justice Grant Information for Applicants

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC or "Department") provides State Assistance funding through the Environmental Justice Community Impact Grants and Green Gems Grants ("EJ Grants") to community-based organizations for projects that address exposure of communities to multiple environmental harms and risks ("Projects").

Application

The Community Impact Grant and Green Gems Grant applications for 2012 are now closed.

The Department will make available approximately $1,164,000 in state assistance funding for this 2012 grant cycle. Applicants may only apply under one of the following two grant funding categories, but not both: Community Impact Grants or Green Gems Grants. These funding categories are described in further detail below.

1) Community Impact Grants: the Department will reserve a minimum of $989,000 up to a maximum of $1,054,000.

2) Green Gem Grants: the Department will reserve a minimum of $110,000 (approximately 10% of the total available grant funding) up to a maximum of $175,000 (approximately 15% of the total grant funding).

Community Impact Grants

Community Impact Grant Request/Award Amounts:

Applicants may request funding from $10,000 up to $50,000.

Projects proposed for Community Impact Grant funding must address exposure of communities to multiple environmental harms and risks, must be located within the community served by the applicant organization, and must include research that will be used to expand the knowledge or understanding of the affected community. The Community Impact Grants are a continuation of the EJ Grants awarded in previous years.

Successful Projects previously funded by Community Impact Grants have included the following:

  1. An inventory of environmental harms and risks in the community, such as: inventory of industrial, municipal, or commercial facilities in the community, identification of related environmental or public health harms and risks, and development of a community education program to address some or all of the harms and risks. See further clarification of harms and risks.
  2. Mobile source emission tracking and monitoring (traffic counts, diesel vehicle idling counts), and development of a program to address some or all of the harms and risks.
  3. Demonstration Projects for green infrastructure or energy conservation, e.g., green rooftops, urban tree planting, energy conservation or alternative energy Projects. The data from such demonstration Projects must be used to expand the community's knowledge and understanding of how such Projects may mitigate exposure to environmental impacts.
  4. Projects to identify and reduce harms and risks to subsistence fishing populations that use waters restricted for fish consumption, i.e. research habits of fishing populations, develop means to educate populations about associated harms and risks, and recommend means to provide safe fishing access to such populations.
  5. Projects to identify industrial, commercial, or municipal processes that result in pollution which impacts the community, research these processes, and study and develop potential methods to reduce such exposure.
  6. Projects to identify lead hazards for children and pregnant women, prevent lead related housing risks, and/or promote lead safe work practices by homeowners and contractors involved in residential renovation and remodeling.
  7. Projects to identify sources of household hazardous waste within the affected community, identify local hazardous waste facilities, educate community residents on proper disposal and alternative non hazardous products such as green cleaning products, and encourage use of alternative non hazardous products.
  8. An inventory of open space in the affected community and construction of community gardens or other park-like features to demonstrate beneficial use of that open space.
  9. Projects that encourage a connection to nature and the urban environment for inner-city students, develop hands-on stewardship Projects for students to help them understand natural processes, and inventory community environmental harms and risks.

For more information on Projects funded by the EJ Grant program in previous years, see Winners of Past Environmental Justice Grants.

Green Gems Grants

Green Gems Grants Request/Award Amounts:

Applicants may request funding from $2,500 up to $10,000.

The Green Gems Grant funding category, available for the first time, will provide funding for smaller scale projects as compared to the Community Impact Grant funding category. Green Gems Grant projects must include a research and educational component that will be used to expand the knowledge or understanding of the affected community. Eligible projects must involve education, stewardship, or monitoring activities related to parks, open space, community gardens or green infrastructure.

Proposed Projects for Green Gems Grants must include both research and education components. Applicants must briefly describe how their research will be carried out if their proposed Project is funded. Examples of possible research components are listed below; applicants can also develop their own research components for Green Gems proposals.

  • Evaluate changes in the knowledge and attitudes of Project participants toward environmental and/ or nutritional issues.
  • Evaluate changes in community garden productivity resulting from the Project.
  • Monitor changes in the environmental quality of the garden, park or open space as a result of the Project.
  • Test soil in garden plots for toxic contaminants.
  • Monitor the effects of the Project on local stormwater runoff, surface water quality or air quality.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of soil contamination cleanup methods used in the Project.

Applicants for Green Gems Grants must also briefly describe how the education component of their Project will be carried out if the Project is funded. Examples of possible education components are listed below; applicants can also develop their own education components for Green Gems proposals.

  • Provide nutrition education to students and/or members of the local community.
  • Use the garden, park or open space as an outdoor classroom for environmental education of elementary or secondary students.
  • Produce a website, booklet or other educational media on community gardening or green infrastructure methods.
  • Conduct community workshops on creation, maintenance and use of community gardens, open space or green infrastructure.
  • Train local youth in production and marketing of community garden produce and/or secondary garden products (sauces, salsas, etc.) as vocational education.
  • Use the garden, park, green infrastructure or open space as a demonstration project to educate members of the local community on the benefits of these types of work.

Applications for Green Gems Grants differ from applications for Community Impact Grants in the following ways:

  1. Green Gems applications will be reviewed, scored and ranked separately from Community Impact Grants.
  2. Green Gems applications do not need to include information about public health benefits of the proposed Projects.
  3. Green Gems applications need to address multiple sources of environmental harms and risks, but they do not need to address multiple pollution sources. See details about the multiple harms and risks that must be addressed in the grant applications.

Criteria for Eligible Applicants

An eligible applicant for a Community Impact Grant or Green Gems Grant must satisfy all of the following criteria:

  1. The applicant must be a community-based organization or a partnership of multiple community-based organizations. For purposes of this grant application, a "community-based organization" is defined as an organization that meets all of the following conditions:
    1. Serves the human residents of an area equal to or smaller than a town or city outside of New York City, or an area equal to or smaller than one of the five boroughs within New York City; and
    2. Has a total annual revenue that does not exceed $3,000,000, based on the applicant's IRS Form 990 filing from the previous year; and
    3. Cannot have its charter revoked or otherwise be dissolved through the action of another organization; and
    4. Is able to enter into legal agreements independent of any affiliated not-for-profit organization, government body, university, or other entity that would be ineligible to apply for this grant.
  2. The applicant must meet the following additional qualifications:
    1. focus on addressing the environmental and/or public health problems of the residents of the community that is impacted by the multiple environmental harms and risks that are the focus of the Project (the "affected community") (Please see pages 8-9 for further clarification of harms and risks); and
    2. have a history of serving the residents of the affected community; and
    3. have its primary office location in the affected community; and
    4. have more than 50% of its members or the people served by the organization living in the affected community.
  3. The applicant must be a Not-For-Profit Corporation having 501(c)(3) tax exempt status (NFP) or partner with a NFP that will serve as a fiscal sponsor for the applicant. A fiscal sponsor is a NFP which uses its 501(c)(3) tax exempt status to enter into a contract with DEC on behalf of the applicant if the applicant is awarded a grant. The NFP fiscal sponsor is not required to have members in the affected community.
  4. The applicant must declare that it has not caused or contributed to the environmental harms or risks that are to be the subject of the Project.

Ineligible Applicants

Entities that are not eligible to apply and receive funding under this Grant program are: individuals; universities; government bodies; water districts or similar entities; large non-governmental organizations such as county (outside New York City), regional, state or national environmental groups; or organizations that do not have a history of serving in the affected communities where their proposed Projects are located.

However, there are two ways that an ineligible organization can be involved in a Project that receives funding through an EJ Grant: (1) if the organization has 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status, the organization can act as a fiscal sponsor for an eligible applicant that has not yet received not-for-profit status; or (2) the organization can be a Project partner or subcontractor for an eligible applicant that receives an EJ Grant.

Multiple Harms and Risks

As stated above, the applicant's Project must address exposure of communities to multiple environmental harms and risks. "Multiple harms and risks" can occur in several ways:

  1. a community has multiple sources of environmental harms or risks (e.g. contaminated abandoned properties);
  2. a community has multiple sources of a single environmental harm or risk (e.g. asthma);
  3. a community experiences multiple environmental or health impacts or risks from a single source of environmental harm (e.g. air and/or water contamination from a single source).

Multiple harms and risks described in successful EJ Grant applications in past grant cycles have included the following:

  • Large numbers of abandoned and contaminated residential properties and heavily contaminated urban surface water.
  • High levels of particulate air pollution caused by nearby expressways, airport, and industrial facilities, combined with lack of open space.
  • Contamination of the food supply for subsistence hunters and anglers by toxic emissions from multiple heavy industrial sources.
  • Lack of access to community green space and healthy produce.
  • Large numbers of residences with lead paint contamination.

There are many other possible examples in addition to those listed above. If you are unsure whether the situation in your community can be categorized as multiple harms and risks, please call the Office of Environmental Justice at 1-866-229-0497 or 518-402-8556.

Matching Grant Funds

Matching funds are Not Required for EJ grants; however, applicants must demonstrate in their application proposal that they have applied for or obtained other sufficient funding and/or in-kind (non-monetary) support (including the EJ Grant) to carry out and complete the proposed project.

Funding allocated through the EJ Grant Program can be combined with other funds to pay for larger Projects as long as all other EJ Grant Program (including Green Gems Grants) requirements are met. If this is the case, the applicant must provide a brief description of the larger Project, identify other available funding source(s), indicate why additional funding is needed for the Project, and describe and identify how funds from the EJ Grant Program will be used as part of the larger Project. The Budget Summary Form must show the amounts of any additional funding that will be used for specific Project expenses.

For Green Gems Grant applications, the total monetary funding for a proposed Project, including EJ and other funding sources, cannot exceed $20,000. Green Gems applications for projects with total funding greater than $20,000 will be disqualified from further review.

Cost Effectiveness

Proposed Projects must be cost-effective to score well. Cost effectiveness will be given priority in the review, evaluation and selection of Projects for funding. The application reviewers will determine the cost effectiveness of proposed Projects based on the following guidelines:

  1. The budget contains only eligible expenses required for the project;
  2. The expenses are well thought out and thoroughly described in Attachment C-1, Project Budget, and Attachment C-2, Budget Narrative; and
  3. The funds will be used efficiently to benefit the greatest number of people for the amount of money spent.

Eligible Project Costs

  1. Costs for professional services directly related to the implementation of the Project, including related consultant and legal services (also see Ineligible Costs).
  2. Costs for salaried, hourly or contractual staff time (plus fringe benefits) for work done exclusively for the Project. Fringe benefits are limited to 15% of the staff salary paid in the EJ Grant award.Paid Staff and Contractual Services funds, including fringe benefits, paid to any individual person cannot exceed 30% of the total grant award for Community Impact Grants or 20% of the total grant award for Green Gems Grants.
  3. Costs for equipment (purchase or rental), supplies, materials and related services required to execute the Project.Note that any equipment, furniture, supplies or other property purchased with funding provided by this Grant program cannot be sold, transferred or used for other purposes without written approval from the Department.
  4. Costs associated with communication directly related to the Project, including costs directly related to informing the community about the Project such as telephone services, postage, messenger, internet service and the like.
  5. Costs associated with securing NFP tax exempt status up to $1,000.
  6. Costs for training required to implement the Project.
  7. Expenses for any travel required to carry out the Project. Note that the EJ Grant will not pay for travel to conferences or other professional meetings or any travel outside New York State.
  8. Costs for purchase, upgrade and maintenance of computer hardware and software required to implement the Project.
  9. Other reasonable costs directly related to implementation of the Project, such as costs for preparing contract documents and reports or rental of meeting space; and
  10. Costs incurred by a fiscal sponsor for administering the grant or assisting in the Project. Costs charged by the fiscal sponsor to administer the grant that are paid from EJ Grant funds are limited to management and recordkeeping of grant funds, preparation of grant contract documents, and preparation and submittal of mandatory reports on funded Projects as specified in the grant contract. These costs cannot exceed ten percent (10%) of the total grant award. If the fiscal sponsor assists in carrying out the Project, the fiscal sponsor cannot receive more than forty percent (40%) of the total grant award, including grant administration costs, for Community Impact Grants, or more than twenty-five percent (25%) of the total grant award for Green Gems Grants, including administrative costs.

All eligible costs for which the Applicant is seeking funding under the EJ Grant program must be described in Attachment C-1, Budget Summary Form, and justified in Attachment C-2, Budget Narrative. Applications that do not provide sufficient information to determine whether costs are eligible for funding will lose points in the application evaluation process and may receive a smaller Grant award if funded.

Ineligible Project Costs

The following costs are not eligible for funding under this Grant program:

  1. Costs that are paid by other outside funding;
  2. Costs for the general operation of the applicant organization, including personnel, office rent and utilities, and office supplies, unless those costs are incurred solely for the benefit of the Project described in the EJ Grant application. Liability insurance costs cannot be funded by this grant;
  3. Costs of preparing the EJ Grant application;
  4. Costs relating to the Project that were incurred prior to the start date of the Grant Contract or after the termination date of the Contract; and
  5. Legal costs related to the commencement of or participation in any action before a municipal, state or federal court or other agency.

Signed Authorizing Resolution

Using the sample format included in Supplement C of this RFA, an Authorizing Resolution must be passed at an official meeting of the governing body of the applicant organization or fiscal sponsor, if applicable. The resolution must be prepared on the organization's stationery and include the name and title of the person authorized to submit the application and sign a future contract with the Department ("Authorized Official").The resolution must be certified by an organization executive other than the Authorized Official. A signed original or certified copy of the resolution must be submitted with this application by the due date. Any application lacking an Authorizing Resolution will be deemed incomplete.

Letters of Agreement and Partnership

If the Applicant has a fiscal sponsor or will partner with another organization, government agency or other institution to carry out the proposed Project, a letter of agreement from the fiscal sponsor and each Project partner (if applicable) is required. Any application lacking a required letter from a fiscal sponsor or Project partner will be deemed incomplete.

Letter of Support

A letter of support is optional, but encouraged. Applications with a letter of support from an elected official, government body, educational institution, or other organization with knowledge or expertise related to the proposed Project will be awarded additional points in the EJ Grant application review and evaluation process. The letter of support must be submitted with the application by the application deadline of April 5, 2013.

Review, Evaluation and Selection of Projects for Funding

All applications received by the due date will first receive an "eligibility" and "completeness" review. All eligible and complete applications will be separated into Green Gem Grants or Community Impact Grants as indicated by the applicants on their application cover pages. All applications will then be further reviewed, evaluated and scored by members of a Department review panel in accordance with the general evaluation criteria described in Supplement A of these application instructions. Green Gems Grants will be reviewed, scored and ranked separately from the Community Impact Grants. The total maximum score any application may receive is 100 points.

In an effort to distribute available funding across the State, and in the best interest of the State, the Department reserves the right to determine the best selection of applications for Project funding in the following way:

Individual reviewers' scores will be averaged for each application to determine a final score.Final scores will be separated into Community Impact Grant or Green Gems Grant categories, then ranked from highest to lowest in each category on two statewide lists. Applicants having the highest total scores in each category will be awarded EJ Grants until funding is exhausted. To ensure that no single part of the State receives a disproportionate share of grant awards, the following additional procedure will be followed: if during the process of assigning awards, the applications in any single DEC region receive a combined total of at least sixty percent (60%) of the total funds available in each category for this grant cycle, no remaining applications from that region will be considered for a grant award. All further awards will be given to the remaining applications from the other eight DEC regions in order from highest to lowest scores. Go to the DEC Regions page for a map of the DEC regions and contact information for the Department's regional offices.

Applications that score below 70 points will not be considered for funding.

Multiple Applications from a single applicant:

Due to the large number of anticipated applications, no more than one award will be given to any applicant. Should the Office of EJ receive two or more applications for Projects that include funding for the same applicant, a grant will only be awarded to, at most, the application that receives the highest final average score.

Tie Breaker:

If there is a numerical tie in the ranking of multiple applications within a funding category and insufficient funds remain to award grants to all of the tied applications, the application having the earliest application postmark date will be selected for project award.

The Department reserves the right to determine the amount of a grant award based on the scope of work proposed in the application, and based on an application's eligible project-related expenses.

Duration of Grant Contracts

Grant recipients will be notified in writing by the Department of an official grant award. Each grant award will be paid through a State Assistance Contract ("Contract") that will carry a three-year term beginning with the date of the official grant award letter. A grant contract may be extended for two one-year periods upon mutual written agreement and a formal amendment to the contract. Work should not begin on the Project until the grant recipient receives a fully approved Contract from DEC, followed by an initial advance contract payment. The contracting process can take several months from the date of the grant award; therefore, grantees must plan for this delay when scheduling Project expenses.

Grant Contract Payments

In accordance with State contracting requirements, all payments of grant contract funding will be made by electronic transfer. Grant recipients will be required to set-up an electronic payment authorization with the Office of the State Comptroller at: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/epay/index.htm.

This is a scheduled payment grant program. Upon the Department's full approval of a state assistance contract, funding will be advanced to the Grantee in increments as follows:

  1. The first payment in the amount of 30% of the grant award will be advanced once a state assistance contract is fully approved by DEC.
  2. The second payment in the amount of 30% of the Grant award will be advanced once the initial payment is exhausted and upon submission by the grantee of a concise report detailing: the work done to date; an accounting of all eligible expenditures relating to the first payment in its entirety; and an outline of the work to be completed with the second payment.
  3. The third payment in the amount of 30% of the Grant award will be advanced once the second payment is exhausted and upon submission by the grantee of a concise report detailing: the work done to date; an accounting of all eligible expenditures relating to the second payment in its entirety; and an outline of the work to be completed with the third payment.
  4. The final payment in the amount of 10% of the Grant award will be reimbursed to the grantee once the Project has been successfully completed in accordance with the project narrative and budget identified in the grantee's executed contract.

Costs up to $1,000 that are associated with an applicant securing Not-For-Profit tax exempt status are not eligible for advance funding, but will be reimbursed upon submission of documentation verifying the expense and proof that NFP tax exempt status has been attained.

Additional Grant Contract Requirements

Payment of an EJ Grant requires the execution of a New York State Assistance Contract between the Not-For-Profit Corporation and DEC. This contract will include a Project Budget, Scope of Work, Project Schedule, beginning and termination dates, reporting requirements, a payment schedule, and standard State and DEC contract clauses. Once an application has been selected for funding, DEC will notify the Not-For-Profit Corporation of its award and request any additional information necessary to draft the State Assistance Contract. DEC staff will send the Contract to the Not-For-Profit Corporation for signature, then process the Contract for final approval by DEC. Grant payments will not be provided until the Contract is fully approved by DEC. The Contract will be subject to all appropriate State rules, regulations, and reporting requirements.

Equal Employment Opportunity and Minority and Women Business Enterprises Requirements:

The Department has established Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) goals for use when procuring goods or services. These goals reflect the Department's objective to obtain a "fair share" of its needs from small, minority and women-owned businesses and to comply with Executive Law Article 15-A, Economic Development Law Article 4-A and 5NYCRR Parts 140-144, Rules and Regulations of the Minority and Women's Business Development Program.

Construction contracts valued at $100,000 or more and service and commodity contracts valued at $25,000 or more require good faith efforts to meet M/WBE goals and must include the M/WBE and EEO goals in the awarding document (contract or purchase order). These documents must also include language for mandated reporting. Revenue contracts do not require M/WBE goals; however, the appropriate EEO goals are still required. The M/WBE and EEO goals and other information on these requirements can be found on the Department's website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/about/48854.html.

Insurance:

Grant recipients will be required to agree that each project consultant, project contractor and project subcontractor secures and delivers to the grant recipient appropriate policies of insurance issued by an insurance company licensed to do business in the State. Policies must name the grant recipient as an additional insured, with appropriate limits, covering contractor's public liability and property damage insurance, contractor's contingency liability insurance, "all-risk" insurance and workers compensation/disability coverage for the project. Upon signing a state assistance contract, the grant recipient will agree to provide copies of the applicable insurance policies to the Department upon request.

Acknowledgment/Credits:

The grantee must agree to give the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation appropriate credit for its support and shall note the following in all printed documents, video materials, and /or program advertisements resulting from this work: "This Project has been funded in part by a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Environmental Justice Community Impact Grant Program."

Vendor Responsibility:

Not-For-Profit organizations that score high enough to receive a grant award/contract will be subject to a vendor responsibility review by the Department to ensure public dollars are being spent appropriately with responsible contractors. A vendor responsibility review will determine whether a potential grantee has the financial capacity, the legal authority, record of business integrity, and a satisfactory history of past performance.

Iran Divestment Act:

By submitting an application in response to this solicitation or by assuming the responsibility of a Contract awarded hereunder, Applicant/Grant Recipient (or any assignee) certifies that it is not on the "Entities Determined To Be Non-Responsive Bidders/Offerers Pursuant to The New York State Iran Divestment Act of 2012" list ("Prohibited Entities List") posted on the OGS website at: http://www.ogs.ny.gov/about/regs/docs/ListofEntities.pdf and further certifies that it will not utilize on such Contract any subcontractor that is identified on the Prohibited Entities List. Additionally, the Applicant/Grant Recipient is advised that should it seek to renew or extend a Contract awarded in response to the solicitation, it must provide the same certification at the time the Contract is renewed or extended. During the term of the Contract, should the Department of Environmental Conservation (Department) receive information that a person (as defined in State Finance Law §165-a) is in violation of the above-referenced certifications, the Department will review such information and offer the person an opportunity to respond. If the person fails to demonstrate that it has ceased its engagement in the investment activity which is in violation of the Act within 90 days after the determination of such violation, then the Department shall take such action as may be appropriate and provided for by law, rule, or contract, including, but not limited to, seeking compliance, recovering damages, or declaring the Contractor in default.

The Department reserves the right to reject any bid/application, request for assignment, renewal or extension for an entity that appears on the Prohibited Entities List prior to the award, assignment, renewal or extension of a contract, and to pursue a responsibility review with respect to any entity that is awarded a contract and appears on the Prohibited Entities list after contract award.

Where to Get Additional Information

This guidance document, including the enclosed application form, is available on-line and can be downloaded from the "Related Links" section in the right column of this page. For more information about the Environmental Justice Community Impact Grant Program, contact the Department staff member listed below. Additional information regarding the EJ Grants and frequently asked questions and answers will be posted periodically on the Office of Environmental Justice web site on the EJ Grant Frequently Asked Questions Page until one week before the application deadline on Friday, April 5, 2013. Applications may not be filed electronically.

Arturo Garcia-costas
NYSDEC Office of Environmental Justice
625 Broadway, 14th Floor
Albany, New York 12233-1500

Telephone: 518- 402-8556
Toll free: 1-866-229-0497

E-mail: ej@gw.dec.state.ny.us