The Frontline Impact Digest

Justice 40 & EJ Ready

By Angelo Logan, Liberty Hill Sr. Director of Environmental & Climate Justice

Hill

Last year the Biden Administration made history with the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), together providing hundreds of billions of dollars in climate investments.

Being responsive to environmental justice leaders, the Biden administration recognized the historic inequities in federal spending and made these funds subject to Executive Order 14008, otherwise known as Justice40, which set the goal that at least 40% of federal climate investments would benefit frontline communities most affected by poverty and pollution.

Justice40 holds great potential to address environmental racism and the climate crisis, but the existing federal spending processes overwhelmingly favors large, well-resourced entities over grassroots organizations that lack the capacity and back-office infrastructure needed to access and manage cumbersome federal grant requirements.

The only way these federal dollars will make significant climate and environmental justice gains in BIPOC communities will be if frontline organizations are equipped to draw down the federal funds and work together to promote a common agenda that centers community solutions.

Recognizing this enormous opportunity and need, Liberty Hill Foundation and Resources Legacy Fund teamed up to create the EJ Ready, a program with the goal of ensuring that those closest to the pain of environmental injustice are prepared and resourced to influence and draw down historic public investments.

To reach this goal, we designed a program with four interconnected goals:

  • Foster Collaboration
  • Map Opportunities
  • Build Organizational Capacity
  • Connect Community to Government

The EJ Ready initiative was launched at an event hosted by the Liberty Hill Foundation and the Resources Legacy Fund which focuses on Justice40 covered programs and included presentations from the White House Council on Environmental Quality, multiple federal and state agencies, and community leaders. The event was attended by more than 170 participants from throughout the LA region. EJ Ready now consists of 20 cohort organizations and the process of community learning is well underway.

Recent Activities:

On October 17th, Liberty Hill Foundation and Resources Legacy Fund participated in the White House’s Convening for National & Local Philanthropy involved in IJA and IRA implementation. This gathering was the first of its kind event in the Biden-Harris Administration that brought together more than 200 community foundations and intermediary organizations, regional and national philanthropies, and impact investors committed to equitably deploying funding for Investing in high need communities across the United States.

Upcoming:

In March 2024, marking the one-year anniversary of the initiative, the EJ Ready team and cohort member organizations will host a site tour of potential community projects across the county for the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the White House Environmental Justice Inter-Agency Council (IAC). The White House Environmental Justice IAC is made up of federal level agencies and is intended to coordinate the advancement of the Administration’s whole-of-government approach to environmental justice. The tour is expected to draw Cabinet level Secretaries and highlight local environmental justice leaders and relevant community driven projects. We expect the tour to foster the ongoing multi-dimensional collaboration needed to make positive visible impacts in LA’s environmental justice communities.