What does Environmental Justice mean in our neighborhoods?

Not all of our local neighborhoods are equal in terms of the environment — some have a lack of green space and trees, or contend with flood zone hazards and heightened risk of rising sea levels, excessive noise, proximity to toxic waste, unhealthy water supplies, and air quality emissions.

In May 2023, the Palo Alto Community Fund (PACF) awarded East Palo Alto-based Climate Resilient Communities (CRC) a Dave Mitchell Impact Grant of $100,000 for their important collaborative work in creating tangible, action-oriented projects that address local environmental justice.

CRC approaches the goal of environmental justice by bringing together residents, faith leaders, nonprofits, youth leaders, local and state government representatives, and other stakeholder organizations to advocate for community-based solutions that center local voices to empower positive community results.

Projects and programs include:

  • Our Communities Our Bay is a research project with two goals: to know how communities are impacted by climate hazards and find technologies and practices that best protect the health of families.
  • The Breath of Air Campaign provides free air purifiers to 100 families in East Palo Alto, North Fair Oaks, and Belle Haven.
  • The Resilient Homes Program helps eligible low-income homeowners in East Palo Alto, North Fair Oaks, and Belle Haven enroll in free solar, home repair, and weatherization programs.
  • Youth Climate Collective (YCC) is a six-month program for students from East Palo Alto, North Fair Oaks, and Belle Haven, that gives them a voice in the climate change conversation and the opportunity to take part in interactive field trips, advocacy workshops, student presentations, and discussions to learn about environmental justice topics.

Thank you to Climate Resilient Communities and to our other local nonprofit partners who are working hard to bring environmental justice to our neighborhoods. In particular:

Belle Haven Community Development Fund works to make the Belle Haven community a thriving one for residents and neighbors alike. A major focus of their work is environmental justice, partnering with CRC in the Menlo Park collaborative and other local organizations.

El Comité de Vecinos del Lado Oeste, East Palo Alto supports neighbors through tenant advocacy, food distribution, holiday gift distribution, and census education, among many other community needs. El Comité participates in the CRC East Palo Alto Community Team.

Environmental Volunteers promotes the understanding of and responsibility for the environment through hands-on science education.

Nuestra Casa uplifts Latino families in East Palo Alto and the Midpeninsula. Working with the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water and the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, Nuestra Casa is part of a broad Bay Area water justice initiative, as well as part of the CRC East Palo Alto Community Team.

Vida Verde provides outdoor educational opportunities for underserved elementary-age students.

December 6, 2023 | Read the full newsletter this story appeared in here.