WASHINGTON DC — The Healthy Babies Bright Futures’ (HBBF) Bright Cities program awarded our latest round of funding to five cities whose projects will position them for additional federal funding. Securing climate-conscious federal funding to reduce toxic exposures isn’t always easy, and these pilot grants, ranging from $15,000 to $25,000, will build positive change in communities — while laying the groundwork for larger amounts of federal funding.
HBBF’s grants were designed to fill a unique gap by helping cities secure additional funding from the historic amounts of federal dollars now available. Planning for these larger federal grants presents challenges for small and/or "at max capacity" cities, though those are often the cities most in need of additional funding.
The grant recipients — Meadville, PA; Pine Bluff, AR; Eugene, OR; San Francisco, CA; and Montgomery, AL — can leverage their proposed projects to gain additional funding from various other sources, including the EPA’s grant programs designed to support city and community-based organization partnerships. A key to reducing health disparities for children — particularly in Meadville, Pine Bluff, and Montgomery, cities that have been historically underfunded — is additional funding and resources.
"This is a rare opportunity to plan together and think big about upcoming federal and state grant opportunities,” said Kevin Kasowski, the Director of Foundation and Corporate Giving at the Oregon Environmental Council.
WHAT DO THESE CITIES PLAN TO DO?
- Meadville, PA will convene community-based organizations—including Allegheny College, the Meadville Medical Center, the Rural Health Clinic, and local pediatric offices—to develop strategies to collectively provide education for residents about reducing exposure to lead and other toxicants that act like lead, pilot a door to door campaign, and launch a lead screening program.
- Pine Bluff, AR will partner with the county tree city board and a local community organization—Home Again Pine Bluff—to reduce air toxics and urban heating by planting trees, and to lay the foundation necessary for successful federal funding applications.
- Eugene, OR will work with two community organizations—Oregon Environmental Council and Beyond Toxics—to share educational materials and learning experiences to leverage each organization’s capacity to collectively submit new federal or state grant applications.
- San Francisco, CA will provide technical assistance and resources to at least 20 medium, small, and micro landscaping and grounds maintenance businesses to apply to, and receive vouchers for zero emission equipment from an existing grant program and add to the City’s network of community organizations with reach into historically excluded and disproportionately impacted communities to include resources for these groups in upcoming climate just transition programs and grants.
- Montgomery, AL will partner with the Montgomery Area Food Bank, Fairview Farmer’s Market, Montgomery Curb Market, and COPE Pregnancy Center to deliver food to vulnerable families in the community at least once per week. Residents selected will be able to order produce online or by phone.
“Working with a city of 50,000 residents last year drove home how time-consuming and challenging it is for busy city staff to engage in the application process for available federal funding, particularly funding that is part of the Justice40 Initiative,” said Kyra Naumoff Shields, PhD, Bright Cities Program Director. “We see it as essential to support pilot projects and partnership development to help cities and community-based organizations have the necessary foundation to successfully procure federal funding, and encourage others with this capacity to do the same.”
About HBBF: Healthy Babies Bright Futures is a nonprofit organization that measurably reduces the largest sources of babies’ exposures to neurotoxic chemicals that harm brain development. We use original research, city governments, and strategic partnerships to empower parents, build resilient communities, and pressure decision-makers to keep babies' brains safe from neurotoxic exposures.
The Bright Cities program provides grants and tailored best practices to city governments to equitably reduce community exposures to neurotoxic chemicals. Forty-four cities have designed and completed projects that reduced harmful exposures to neurotoxic chemicals. Our three main areas of focus are: healthier air and environments; nontoxic and environmentally preferable purchasing; and increasing access to organic and healthy food.