June 6, 2023

NEW YORK – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a listening session with a group of community leaders and environmental entities in Puerto Rico to forge the path forward for the selection of the Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Center (EJ TCTAC). The Inter-American University of Puerto Rico-Metro Campus (IAUPR) has been selected as the entity to operate the EJ TCTAC and the University will receive $10 million over the next five years to help communities across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands access funding opportunities to advance environmental justice.

“Communities in the Caribbean are too often the most overburdened by environmental degradation and the most impacted by our changing climate. Until now, many communities in Puerto Rico and the USVI did not have the assistance and resources needed to apply for federal money, but this new center will change all of that,” said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “By providing training, guidance and technical assistance, these Thriving Communities technical centers will help and support communities access federal funding opportunities to better address their environmental and public health challenges. This program is a game changer that will help make considerable progress toward environmental and energy justice.”

IAUPR is among 17 Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (EJ TCTACs) the EPA announced to receive a total of more than $177 million to remove barriers and improve accessibility for communities with environmental justice concerns. With this critical investment, these centers will provide training and other assistance to build capacity for navigating federal grant application systems, writing strong grant proposals, and effectively managing grant funding. In addition, these centers will provide guidance on community engagement, meeting facilitation, and translation and interpretation services for limited English-speaking participants, thus removing barriers and improving accessibility for communities with environmental justice concerns. Each of the technical assistance centers will also create and manage communication channels to ensure all communities have direct access to resources and information.

“IAUPR is proud to join with several partners to serve and support communities in EPA’s Region 2,” said Dr. Yogani Govender, Dean of Science and Technology at Interamerican University. “The IAUPR-EJTCTAC will allow access to essential funds for low income and underserved communities for environmental and energy justice projects that strengthen and increase community adaptation and resilience to climate change. The funding awarded today increases opportunities for organizations to develop capacity in leadership and financial opportunities to build stronger environmental and energy justice partnerships and networks.”

“Congratulations to the InterAmerican University in my district on its new role to support community members and stakeholders in Puerto Rico and USVI as part of the federally funded Environmental Justice Thriving Community Technical Assistance Center initiative. With a $10 million investment, this center will benefit those seeking to navigate the federal system as it provides technical assistance and capacity building to access grants and other federal opportunities available. Through the years, many nonprofits and local entities have benefited from federal aid. This new center will ensure more people can access resources in the environmental and related fields,” said Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón.

Learn more about the selectees, their partners, and the EJ TCTAC program.

Learn more about environmental justice at EPA.

Inter-American University of Puerto Rico-Metro Campus (IAUPR) is a private university founded in 1912 with nine campuses throughout Puerto Rico. With the awarded funds, IAUPR will establish several technical centers in Puerto Rico and the USVI to provide technical assistance, training, and support to communities facing environmental and energy justice challenges. These centers aim to “Build Community Capacity, Climate Resilience and Maximizing Benefits to Overburdened and Underserved Communities, increasing EPA support for community-led action by providing investments and benefits directly to communities with environmental justice concerns and integrating equity throughout Agency programs.” The technical centers will use a successful model previously implemented by IAUPR in Puerto Rico that will engage grassroots organizations in strengthening institutional capacity through various activities, such as meetings, workshops, webinars, and vision screenings. The centers will be a one-stop shop to provide eligible environmental and energy justice services in underserved, rural, and remote communities.

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