Nonprofit Spotlight: WE ACT for Environmental Justice

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In February, PennyLoafer donors collectively gave to WE ACT for Environmental Justice!

The Rundown

  • Years founded: 1988

  • Leadership: Peggy Shepard is a national leader in advancing environmental policy and justice. She’s received the Heinz Award for the Environment for her “courageous advocacy and determined leadership” and the Jane Jacobs Medal from the Rockefeller Foundation for Lifetime Achievement.

  • Issue they address: Environmental justice issues impacting Northern Manhattan / Harlem residents (but also work on a state and national level now).

  • What they do: expand political participation in communities of color and low income residents to influence environmental planning + policies.

  • How they do it:

    • Run an award-winning Environmental Health and Justice Leadership Training that prepares more leaders from Northern Manhattan for advocacy work.

    • Educate, empower and organize residents around environmental challenges impacting the community.

    • Advocate for better environmental policies and practices in New York City, as well as at the state and federal level.

    • Partner with Columbia University to conduct community-based participatory research that addresses environmental justice concerns and informs policies.

Why they were chosen

For over 30 years, WE ACT has been a driving force of change in New York, creating healthier communities and lifting the voice of low-income residents and communities of color most impacted by environmental injustices.

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What is environmental justice?

⚖️  The EPA defines it as the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”

  • And its goal is that we all have the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and equal access to the decision making processes that lead to a healthier world we can all live in.

🚫 Yet low income and communities of color continue to bear the brunt of environmental health hazards. Consider:

💧  In a 2019 study, drinking water system violations were 40% more likely to occur in communities of color.

💨  Communities of color are disproportionally located near polluters, such as toxic waste sites and coal plants, and exposed to higher levels of air pollution. This concentration of fine particulate matter contributes to health issues, such as lung diseases, heart problems and premature death.

🌳  Communities of color are almost 3x more likely than white communities to live in “nature deprived” areas (less or no access to green spaces, parks and paths).

Organizations like WE ACT are helping to ensure a healthier world for all!

If you enjoyed this and want to get involved, you can support the Climate Change cause on PennyLoafer, starting with as little as $5/month. Each month, you’ll support and learn about a different nonprofit fighting the climate crisis.