PHILADELPHIA — The City’s Office of Sustainability in partnership with the Philadelphia Environmental Justice Advisory Commission (PEJAC) is excited to announce the inaugural 2023 grant recipients of the Community Resilience and Environmental Justice Fund (CREJ Fund).

The CREJ Fund resources community-serving organizations working towards long-term environmental justice with $10,000 grants. The Fund was designed by the PEJAC with commissioners also serving as the selection committee recommending finalists.

PEJAC’s Grant Working Group sought to encourage youth engagement in environmental justice and these grants fund more than 50% youth-led projects.

“Empowering young leaders to advocate for environmental justice ensures a more inclusive and diverse representation in decision-making processes, amplifying the voices of those most affected by environmental degradation for generations to come,” said the Philadelphia Environmental Justice Advisory Commission.

The 2023 CREJ Fund grantees are located in North, West, Southwest and South Philly and Germantown – communities facing inequitable distributions of environmental benefits and burdens.

“In environmentally just cities, one’s race, socioeconomic status, and/or zip code are not predictors of their health outcomes or exposure to hazards,” said Elizabeth Lankenau, Director of the Office of Sustainability. “The incredible organizations being funded today help move us towards realizing this vision of environmental justice.”

This year’s 15 grant recipients include:

  • Center in the Park
  • Cloud 9 Community Farms
  • Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center
  • Fair Amount Food Forest
  • Future Visions
  • Germantown Residents for Economic Alternatives Together
  • Hunting Park Green
  • Jubilee School
  • Norris Community Resident Council, Inc.
  • Strawberry Mansion Community Development Corporation
  • The Common Place
  • The U School Inc.
  • UC Green
  • Urban Tree Connection
  • VietLead

The awarded projects seek to increase air quality monitoring, food sovereignty, greening, tree canopy, heat and flood resilience, litter reduction and more. See the Office of Sustainability’s blog post for descriptions of each grantee’s funded project.

“Throughout my first term as a member of Philadelphia City Council, I have used a whole government approach to address environmental injustice and the impacts it has on our most vulnerable communities,” said Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At-Large), chair of City Council’s Committee on the Environment. “However, to do this, we must invest in our community leaders and uplift the grassroots activism that is advancing our city towards environmental justice and climate resiliency. That’s why I was proud to advocate that Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability receive additional City funding to launch the Community Resilience & Environmental Justice Fund.”

“I’m proud that the City is investing in making Philadelphia environmentally equitable for residents. We’re in a historic moment with unprecedented federal support for environmental justice. We hope to see the CREJ Fund serve as seed funding for some first-time grant applicants setting them up to go after larger grant dollars that may become available,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.

About the Community Resilience and Environmental Justice Fund
The CREJ Fund is steered by the PEJAC. The Fund is supported by the William Penn Foundation and the City of Philadelphia and fiscally administered by the Philadelphia City Fund. This is an annual funding opportunity and applications will open again in 2024 on the Philadelphia City Fund’s website.

About the Philadelphia Environmental Justice Advisory Commission (PEJAC)
The PEJAC established by Executive Order 2-23 strives to empower and resource Philadelphia communities experiencing significant and inequitable environmental burdens, especially communities of color. PEJAC advocates for effective environmental policies, programs, and projects to remediate past and current environmental harms and build resilience against future injustices.