U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres Announces $50 Million of Federal Funds Secured for Fordham University’s Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaking Program, Thanks to Inflation Reduction Act

Dec 22, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning, U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15) held an event with Fordham University at the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center to celebrate the announcement that Fordham has won the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Thriving Community Grantmaking program and will be receiving $50 million in federal funds, thanks to a program from the Inflation Reduction Act. Fordham will serve as a conduit to small organizations for environmental justice initiatives in EPA Region 2 (New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).

The Flourishing in Community (FIC) Grantmaker Initiative proposes an intersectional approach to place frontline communities in positions of power to advance environmental justice and climate justice in disadvantaged and hard-to-reach communities and communities disproportionately impacted by climate change, pollution, and other environmental stressors.

With this impressive $50,000,000 investment, this initiative, spanning New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight Indian Nations, is poised to elevate environmental justice and climate justice in communities disproportionately affected by climate change and pollution. Fordham University will empower frontline communities, placing them in positions of influence. This initiative seeks to empower historically marginalized groups by providing grants to community-based organizations, institutions, and agencies. The focus on rural, remote, coastal, and urban communities, as well as low-income communities and communities of color, is a testament to Fordham’s commitment to inclusivity.

Rep. Ritchie Torres played a central role in advocating on behalf of Fordham and ensuring these funds were brought into the NY-15 community. On the announcement, Rep. Ritchie Torres said:

“As we face the monumental challenges of environmental justice, which disproportionately affect underserved communities like ours in the Bronx and our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, it is critical that the federal government take big steps and invest the proper resources to prepare us for the future. Today’s announcement from the EPA that Fordham will receive millions of dollars in federal funds demonstrates the historic nature of the Inflation Reduction Act and the importance of never stopping our work fighting for the Bronx. Without a clean and healthy environment to grow up in, our children will never be able to achieve the true promise of this great nation.”

Tania Tetlow, Fordham University President, said: 

“Fordham University is deeply committed to harnessing the power of community-driven solutions in tackling climate change, especially by leveraging the insights and creativity of those directly experiencing its impacts. Operating from our historical base in the Bronx, we’re poised to bring essential resources and support to local institutions, strengthening our community’s response to environmental challenges.”

Julie L Gafney, PhD, the Assistant Vice President for Strategic Mission Initiatives and Executive Director for The Center for Community Engaged Learning at Fordham said:

“We are honored  to spearhead the Flourishing in Community Grantmaker Initiative. This role allows us to open doors for vital federal funding to community-based organizations that have long been overlooked in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Our partners, New York Immigration Coalition, New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, Business Initiative Corporation of New York, Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands and ConPRmetidos, are instrumental in this journey, helping us ensure that resources reach those communities hardest hit by climate and environmental stressors. Together, we’re not just distributing funds; we’re nurturing a network of community-driven hope and lasting change.”

Isaebl Rullán, Executive Director of ConPRmedtidos, said:

“ConPRmetidos recognizes this grant’s significance and potential impact in advancing environmental justice and addressing the needs of overburdened communities. We are honored to provide our experience as grantmakers into service as Fordham’s statutory partner in Puerto Rico and as the regional hub in the Caribbean. We will prioritize supporting underrepresented groups focusing on eliminating barriers that limit organizational development.”

Aleyna Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center, said:

“Fordham University being awarded the Environmental Justice Grant Program through the EPA is a huge step in the right direction for the Environment and for The Bronx community who daily feels a direct impact from Environmental Injustices. This funding can help advance the next generation who are already making changes to better the environment, and bring their projects forward, captivate more community members, and have support from partners to strengthen their efforts and work towards making a more sustainable future. This announcement comes at a time when it is most needed, when in The Bronx, across the City, and the world we are feeling more than ever the effects of global warming. This opportunity is going to put hope back into the communities as the change makers will now have a support to better continue their efforts in adapting with the environmental changes around us.”


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