Congrats to the CEH Justice Fund Grantees of 2012

How are nail salons, playgrounds, and solar panels related to each other?  They are all 2012 CEH Justice Fund grantees.  They and many other issues are being fought by many environmental justice organizations across California to protect communities from toxic exposure and be a part of building healthier environments and healthier communities.

As an important part of our work to help protect the public from toxic chemicals, we file public interest lawsuits against corporate polluters who endanger the health of children, families, and communities in California.  Our victories in these lawsuits sometimes force polluters to pay settlements to our organization.  We set aside part of these settlement funds to provide small grants to grassroots, community-based organizations that serve and are led by low-income people, people of color, Indigenous peoples and residents of disproportionately impacted communities in California. We make these donations through an annual grant cycle through our Community Environmental Action and Justice Fund (the Justice Fund). 

CEH is proud to congratulate and thank the 2012 Justice Fund grantees for their inspiring work to fight for healthy, toxic-free environments with and in their own communities! We are honored to be able to support this important work throughout the state.

Read about all the 2012 grantees here!

Asociacion de Gente Unida por el Agua

Formed in February 2006, La Asociación de Gente Unida por el Agua (AGUA) is a coalition of more than 60 representatives from 17 communities including youth, and 6 nonprofit agencies dedicated to securing safe, clean and affordable drinking water in the San Joaquin Valley. AGUA organizes communities to address pollution from various sources and contaminants, including nitrates and pesticides, which are degrading California’s water resources. In California, rural, low-income, largely Latino farmworker communities are struggling with water sources that are undrinkable and unsafe. Subsequently, AGUA’s continual efforts are essential to measure groundwater quality, clean up existing water contamination, and advocate for its future protection. AGUA received a grant for general operating support to continue to build capacity of coalition members to organize their communities and educate the public and policymakers about the water contamination problem in the San Joaquin Valley.

Bay Area Environmental Health Collaborative

The Bay Area Environmental Health Collaborative (BAEHC) is a broad partnership among six coalitions and numerous organizations working to protect public health in communities heavily impacted by air pollution. The grant awarded will support BAEHC’s work to assure better health for Bay Area residents through the adoption of enforceable measures to limit and reduce cumulative air pollution, particularly in highly impacted, overburdened communities, and to ensure opportunities and build community capacity to participate in, and influence, regulatory decision-making. In light of the recent Chevron fire in Richmond, CA, BAEHC’s work is critical now more than ever.

Black Women for Wellness

Black Women for Wellness is a woman centered culturally appropriate health education and advocacy organization, seeking to enhance the health and wellbeing of Black women. With a strategic focus on both reproductive and environmental health, Black Women for Wellness’ cross issue strategies with environmental health projects is building a true cross movement, linking different justice issues together. Black Women for Wellness received a grant to 1) develop and publish an activity guide for youth and adults supporting both families and organizations in learning the impacts of toxic personal care chemical use and alternatives; including the 2nd edition of Black Going Green; 2) increase additional information about commonly used chemicals in African American homes and businesses with cost efficient and effective alternatives; and 3) increase the voices of African American women and girls with an environmental justice focus as they impact the community.

Committee for a Better Alpaugh

The Committee for a Better Alpaugh (CBA) is a grassroots, community-based organization that works to improve the environment, health, safety, and community welfare of all residents of Alpaugh. Alpaugh is a small, unincorporated town in Tulare County in the Southern San Joaquin Valley.  The low-income, primarily Latino, farm-working community is facing arsenic-contaminated drinking water, dilapidated water infrastructure, air quality issues and high costs for imported water. CBA strives to educate and build awareness about the important health and environmental justice issues impacting the lives of Alpaugh residents. The grant will support the continued efforts of CBA to increase community understanding, build local leadership, and strengthen alliances with other environmental justice organizations and local government agencies to identify an affordable option for bringing clean, healthy water to California’s farmlands.


CA Environmental Justice Alliance

The California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) is a coalition comprising of six grassroots, leading environmental justice organizations throughout California. CEJA’s goal is to work with impacted residents to create state and national policies that address the needs of low-income communities of color burdened by toxic pollution and related health problems. CEJA connects the deep base of each member organization into a statewide force for change. CEJA members are:

  • Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)
  • Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ)
  • Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CRPE)
  • Communities for a Better Environment (CBE)
  • Environmental Health Coalition (EHC)
  • People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights (PODER)


The grant awarded will support for CEJA’s community-based climate justice and renewable energy campaign, “Solar for All”. CEJA is working to ensure that low-income communities and communities of color – those directly impacted by dirty energy production and use – are also engaged in shaping and benefiting economically and environmentally from renewable energy projects and policies.


CA Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative

The mission of the CA Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative (The Collaborative) is to advance a preventative environmental health agenda to assure health and safety for the nail salon and cosmetology sector in California. The Collaborative aims to leverage, unite, and build upon the expertise and activities of diverse organizations, stakeholders, and community members in order to improve the health of nail salon workers and assure them a workplace free of environmental toxins. The Collaborative received a grant to support their ongoing nail salon worker and owner regional meetings in Northern California, establish a group of “Core Leaders” composed of nail salon community members who will be trained to be community leaders and advocates, and conduct trainings focused on best health and safety practices and healthy/green salon concepts.

CA Indian Environmental Alliance

California Indian Environmental Alliance (CIEA) is a Native environmental health non-profit founded in 2006 to address California’s mining contamination, including mercury, left over in rivers, lakes and bays from the Gold Rush. CIEA represents and advocates for the California Indian tribes, tribal members and ancestral territories to protect communities from toxic pollution. Mercury contamination affects all fish-consuming communities in the state, but California tribal members are at an increased risk because fish are an important traditional subsistence food and are fundamental to spiritual, ceremonial, and cultural identity of the People. The grant will support CIEA’s “Alameda & Contra-Costa County WIC Fish Education – Healthy Choices, Healthy Families Project,” to educate those most at risk, low-income women of childbearing age and their children, with information that promotes eating fish safely by avoiding fish high in mercury and PCBs.

Californians for Pesticide Reform

Founded in 1996, Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR) is a dynamic statewide coalition of over 185 organizations and community groups that work together to protect public health, improve environmental quality, and support a sustainable and just agricultural system by changing local and statewide pesticide policies and practices. CPR’s grant award will go towards the Fumigant Alternatives campaign. Building on the recent success against strawberry fumigant methyl iodide, CPR will continue working with rural communities based in the San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast, building local leadership, expanding the capacity of community organizations, and reducing the negative health impacts of pesticides.

Central Valley Air Quality Coalition

The mission of the Central Valley Air Quality (CVAQ) Coalition is to work toward awareness of chronic air pollution, act as a watchdog, advocate for policy, and mobilize communities to create clean air in California’s farmlands; and to ensure that all communities, of all races, culture, class, or creed, have the opportunity to be involved in the policy development and regulatory processes improving regional health. As a broad-based coalition of more than 70 community, public health, environmental justice, medical, civil rights, and environmental groups, CVAQ is dedicated to fighting chronic air pollution and its impacts in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The grant will support internal capacity, the continuation of a policy and administrative internship, and the 9th Annual Clean Air Action Day, where valley residents advocate in Sacramento for clean air.

Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative

Started in 2004, the Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative (DDDC) has been engaged in broad strategic partnering and planning with a wide a powerful coalition of community-based, environmental justice, public health, and environmental organizations and agencies with a mission to reduce diesel pollution in low-income communities of color. The grant awarded supports DDDC’s work to help residents who live along major thoroughfares, highways and shipping yards engage in transportation and land use planning processes by holding an informational workshop and develop accompanying outreach and educational materials to assist community members in engaging in the development of the final Sustainable Communities Strategy.


Environmental Justice Coalition for Water

Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (EJCW) is a statewide coalition of more than 60 grassroots groups and policy organizations formed in 1999 to empower low‐income communities and people of color throughout California to advocate for clean, safe and affordable water. EJCW employs a collaborative leadership model in their advocacy work, including policy analysis, community capacity‐building and training, and nurturing and developing a statewide coalition of individuals and organizations who share our vision for the equitable and sustainable management of California’s precious water resources. EJCW received a grant to complete their transition planning process, policy advocacy that will enable low-income, people of color communities to participate in equitable and sustainable management of California’s water resources.

El Comité Para el Bienestar de Earlimart

El Comité para Bienestar de Earlimart (El Comité) is a grassroots group made up of local residents of Earlimart, Tulare County, dedicated to protecting the health of their families and neighbors from the harmful effects of pesticide exposure, water and air pollution and other risks to community health. The grant award will support a project to engage Tulare County residents in pesticide and air quality decisions that affect community members’ health. El Comité will conduct outreach and trainings, especially to teachers and youth, around pesticides, air pollution issues and cumulative health impacts, and assist in passing local resolutions and policies to promote clean air and prevent harm from pesticide use in the San Joaquin Valley.


Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice (Greenaction) was founded in 1997 by community leaders from the Bay Area and urban, rural, desert and indigenous communities in the western U.S. Centered in the Bay Area, Greenaction works in environmental justice communities to mobilize community power to win victories that change industry and government policies and practices to protect health and promote environmental, social and economic justice. The grant will support outreach to build community support for the “West Oakland Kids and Toxic Waste Don’t Mix – Environmental Health and Justice Project.” The goal of the project is to get the City of Oakland to agree to work with the community and environmental justice groups to move the children’s play structures at the South Prescott Neighborhood Park away from the AMCO Chemical Superfund Site plume – where soil and groundwater are contaminated with a wide range of toxic pollutants.

Healthy Tehama Farms

The mission of Healthy Tehama Farms is to encourage healthy farming in the Central Valley’s Bend District through education and community action to draw attention to the pesticide use and its severe health-related problems, especially on children. In particular, Healthy Tehama Farms is working to address volatilization drift that happens after pesticides are applied to strawberry nursery crops, for example, which becomes airborne and drifts during or after application. The drift from pesticides affects the people, and the drainage into the soil affects the groundwater and, eventually, the Sacramento River. The grant will go toward the continuation of air quality monitoring this fall and expanding community and public agencies’ awareness about the hazards of high exposure to toxic fumigants.

Just Transition Alliance

The Just Transition Alliance (JTA) was founded in 1997 by environmental justice and labor organizations to unite frontline workers, and community members who live along the fence-line of polluting industries, in creating a just transition from toxic-related industries by adopting cleaner production processes. JTA’s efforts focus on contaminated sites that should be cleaned up; the transition to clean production and sustainable economies; and putting the workers and community members most affected by polluting industrial practices in the leadership of crafting policy solutions. The members include:

  • the Asian Pacific Environmental Network
  • Indigenous Environmental Network
  • The Northeast Environmental Justice Network
  • Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice
  • The Southern Organizing Committee
  • Farmworker Network for Economic and Environmental Justice
  • The Canadian Communications, Energy, Paperworkers Union
  • The United Steel Workers of America

The grant will assist in operating support for chemicals policy reform –to fundamentally transform how chemicals are produced, regulated and managed, so they are proven safe before being allowed on the market.

Organización en California de Líderes Campesinas, Inc.

Since 1997, Líderes Campesinas’ mission is to develop leadership among farmworker women to serve as socio-political-economic change agents to reduce poverty and inequality among Latina/o immigrant communities by promoting the recognition of the indivisibility of their human/civil rights. Employing strong, strategic collaboration, Líderes Campesinas is made up of twelve chapters throughout California working on self-identified issues ranging throughout social services, health, economic empowerment and environmental justice, including projects dealing with family violence, working conditions including pesticides, and women’s health. The grant will go toward collection and evaluation of pesticide related surveys filled out by farmworker community members in all chapter regions. Líderes Campesinas will then develop and implement a series of educational meetings, sack exhibits, community forums, health fairs and media presentations to raise awareness of pesticide exposure and its negative health impact and resources available to report pesticide drift and exposure to pesticides in the workplace and in the community.

People’s Community Organization for Reform and Empowerment

The vision of People’s Community Organization for Reform and Empowerment (People’s CORE) is the socio-economic-political empowerment of the people where self-sustaining, locally-controlled communities provide housing, education, and fulfilling employment with livable wages and justice for all. People’s CORE works to train, organize, and mobilize the Asian and Pacific Islander grassroots and general impacted community in Los Angeles and the South Bay to create systemic change. The grant will support the efforts of People’s CORE to engage stakeholders in the local community, focusing on youth programs, who work together to respond to the issues of toxic industrial pollution that stem from local processing facilities and to learn about participation on policy and decision making processes, environmental health information and education, and documentation around air quality complaints.

People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights

Founded in 1991, People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights (PODER) is a grassroots, membership-based organization that seeks to create local solutions to environmental and economic inequities by organizing low-income Latinos and Latino immigrants in San Francisco’s Mission District and other southeast San Francisco neighborhoods. PODER has been organizing, particularly youth, for environmental justice and mediating urban toxic exposure. PODER strives for equitable decisions by means of a community-based decision making process. Beyond San Francisco and California, PODER recognizes that families are feeling the symptoms of the climate crisis in home countries in Latin America and worldwide, who are directly affected by hurricanes, tornados, oil spills, Cap & Trade policies and other natural and human created disasters. The Justice Fund will help implement a series of political education and skills training sessions in 2012. The series, PUEBLOTE Knowledge Project: Transforming Public Lands to Community Assets, is focused on applying and practicing land reclamation and solidarity economy strategies. The PUEBLOTE Campaign: (Re)Claiming Lots for the People seeks to reclaim and re-purpose city-owned urban lands in our neighborhoods for public use.

To read more about youth making change in San Francisco, check them out on Justice Fund Success Stories page.

La Union de Vecinos

Union de Vecinos is a grassroots community organization that promotes civic engagement, democracy, and the development of community power in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, and the City of Maywood. Since 1996, Union de Vecinos has united neighborhoods – tenants, homeowners, families, youth, seniors, immigrants, low income families, working class families, and small business owners – in building and sustaining economic and environmental justice, affordable housing, and healthy and safe community neighborhoods. Union de Vecinos has centered its efforts in the City of Maywood, where residents are primarily low income families and Latino immigrants. Union de Vecinos received a grant to support an educational campaign and the development of a community based Environmental Justice Action Plan.

To read further about the water justice campaign in Maywood, check out their story on our Justice Fund Success Stories page.

Vietnamese American Community Center for the East Bay

The Vietnamese American Community Center of the East Bay (VACCEB) is a leading organization with a 15-year history of providing quality service to low-income, refugee and immigrant populations and their families. The mission of VACCEB is to serve the important needs of Vietnamese Americans in the East Bay through educational, cultural and social services that promote the well-being integration and empowerment of the community. VACCEB’s health services include promoting health information, health screening and nutritional education through classes and workshops. More recently, VACCEB established an employment assistance program for refugees to help with their social adjustment and integration into American society to facilitate employability. Allied with the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, VACCEB will use the grant awarded to continue and expand the organization’s “Healthy Nails, Healthy Woman” program, to advocate for an ordinance to ban toxic nail salon products, and to initiate a plan to tackle other toxins in our community’s immediate environment.

Youth United for Community Action

Youth United for Community Action (YUCA), a grassroots community organization created, led, and run by young people of color, majority from low-income communities. Yucaprovides a safe space for young people to empower themselves and work on environmental and social justice issues to establish positive systemic change through grassroots community organizing. In 2007, Romic, a negligent toxic waste facility located in East Palo Alto, was shut down after 43 years leaving the soil and groundwater underneath extremely contaminated with toxic substances. Now for a community that has fought hard to shut Romic down, YUCA is striving to ensure that the clean-up of the land is done properly and decision-makers are held accountable for the environmental health priorities of the East Palo Alto community. YUCA received a grant to support organizing of community members to push for a thorough clean‐up process for the Romic site by conducting workshops, door-to-door outreach, and organizing community meetings.

Stay tuned for our upcoming Justice Fund Success Stories to see how some of the organizations used their grants!