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$120K WA Toxics and Waste Community Grants, Apply by Aug 11, Equity Priority (+Español,  Tiếng Việt,  한국어,  中文)

Youth in front of Duwamish River

Written by James Rasmussen

$120K in Community Engagement Grants for Toxics and Waste by the Department of Ecology Are Open Thru Aug 11. Highly impacted and low-income communities get priority.

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After a two-year fight by groups like the Duwamish River Clean-Up Coalition/Technical Advisory Group, and this year a coalition that included Front and Centered, Washington Environmental Council, Zero Waste Washington and more, the Washington State Legislature allocated approximately $2.5 million to the Department of Ecology’s “Public Participation Grants.”

Although this program has been available for many years, this year Ecology improved the grant application process, and through our collective advocacy, the grants now clearly prioritize environmental justice communities, low-income people, and people with limited English. This should help to open the door to communities of color to apply and be successful with this program.

The Public Participation Grants provide up to $60,000 per year for up to two years for projects that either:

  • Facilitate community engagement in the issues around toxic sites* and/or
  • Support the state’s waste reduction, recycling, and other waste management priorities.

Examples of toxic site projects include holding public forums to talk about community issues related to a toxic site, educational and communications material development and implementation, hiring consultants to make technical information more understandable, advertising about key issues and more. Examples of waste projects include projects that engage people in reducing toxics in products and processes, food waste prevention, environmental foot-printing and more.  Consider the work are you doing or want to do to prevent or clean-up toxics or waste and apply.  Check out what was funded in the last round, but new ideas are encouraged.

Front and Centered research showed few of these grants were going to communities of color in the past, but in addition to new project priorities, the grant criteria now give preference to applicants that have not received PPG funding since July 1, 2013, and applicants based in highly impacted or low-income communities.  This should help to open the door to communities of color to apply and be successful with this program.

Grant applications must be submitted by 5 PM on August 11th.  Front and Centered groups are encouraged to contact [email protected] to let us know if you plan to apply and especially if you need assistance.  A webinar explaining the application and more information, including the application instructions, is available on the Department of Ecology Public Participation Grants webpage.

This has been a long hard fight to get this funding reinstated. I am proud of the work that was done especially by Front and Centered organizations.  More work needs to be done as the legislature failed to stabilize the larger funding source for this program, the Model Toxics Control Act.  But a lot of work has gone into cracking this door open a little and now is the time that communities of color apply for these grants.

Toxic Site map and lists: MapHazardous Sites List,  Confirmed and Suspected Contaminated Sites List,  Dangerous Waste Cleanup Sites,  EPA site list for WA 


James is a founding member of DRCC/TAG, representing the Duwamish Tribe on the organization’s Advisory Council for 10 years before joining the staff as Executive Director in 2011. He Jamesserved as a member of the Duwamish Tribal Council for 26 years and as the founding Director of the Duwamish Tribe’s Longhouse and Cultural Center. James has served on the WRIA 9 (Green-Duwamish) Salmon Habitat and Recovery Board since the 1980s and was a small business owner for ten years in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square. For over 30 years and through today, James has been an active voice in environmental, habitat, and community issues along the Duwamish River and in the region.