CEH Justice Fund

The 2017 grant cycle has closed. Please check back spring 2018

Notice:  the Office of the Attorney General of California has issued regulations that will reduce the number and amount of Justice Fund grants that CEH can make to community based environmental justice organizations.  The Justice Fund will continue unchanged in 2018 and 2019, but may not be available beyond that.  For more information, see below.

BACKGROUND: The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is an Oakland-based nonprofit organization that helps protect the public from toxic chemicals. As an important part of our work, we file public interest lawsuits against corporate polluters who endanger the health of children, families, and communities in California. Our cases have:

  • stopped a central dry cleaning repository from exposing workers and residents of a low- income neighborhood to cancer-causing chemicals;
  • forced companies to remove lead from candy, baby powder, and jewelry; and
  • led to industry changes that are protecting public health throughout California and beyond.

For other success stories and more information, please click here.

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 affected communities in California.

The Center for Environmental Health makes these donations through an annual grant cycle titled “Community Environmental Action and Justice Fund” (referred to as the Justice Fund). The amount of money available for Justice Fund grants varies from year to year, depending on the success of our lawsuits and the amount of the settlement awards.

The majority of Justice Fund grants will range in size from $250 – $5,000. In 2016, we received applications from 27 organizations and made 21 grants totaling $80,000. To date since 2002, we have made over 115 grants totaling about $610,000 to fund critical environmental justice work across California.

A CHANGE TO CEH’S JUSTICE FUND:  Many of these cases happen under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (also known as Proposition 65).  Until 2016, CEH shared settlements from all of our Prop 65 cases with environmental justice advocates in California.

But on October 1, 2016, the Office of the Attorney General of the State of California issued new regulations that restrict the funds from these cases to uses that “address the same public harm as that allegedly caused by the defendant(s) in the [original Prop 65] case.”  Because many of our cases focus on toxics in consumer products rather than on air and water pollution, the Attorney General’s decision will greatly reduce the funds that we can share with environmental justice communities.  (In our cases on air and water pollution, we continue to share settlement funds directly with the affected communities.)

Note: CEH still controls funds that we intend to share with Environmental Justice advocates from settlement payments received in prior years.  We project that in 2018 and 2019 we will be able to continue to make grants to grassroots environmental justice organizations in the way we always have.  However, current Justice Fund grantees should note and plan for the fact that this fund may not be available after 2019.

ELIGIBILITY: Grants are awarded to 501(c)(3) organizations (or projects fiscally sponsored by 501(c)(3) organizations) working in pursuit of environmental justice and community empowerment in California. The Justice Fund Committee will only consider applications from California, grassroots, community-based environmental justice groups with annual budgets of less than $500,000. The Committee usually does not fund local chapters of larger organizations. Groups that have been funded for more than four years may be considered only for smaller grant amounts.

Most grants will be for specific campaigns, projects, or activities, such as attendance at conferences and trainings, strategic planning, producing outreach materials, or providing internship stipends. However, the Justice Fund will also consider applications for general operating support, emergency assistance, and for filling small gaps in organizations’ budgets. Grants will not be made to government agencies or to support religious activities or lobbying. Grants will only be made to groups led by and serving low-income communities in the state of California in support of environmental justice efforts.

Note: Successful grant applications will show how your organization’s values align with ours and, as specifically as possible, how the award will directly support a project or program that addresses environmental justice. If you are applying for funds to support a project/program on economic, food, or transportation justice, please be as explicit as possible in describing how these issues directly affect environmental justice in the communities your organization is working in.