Heartland Environmental Justice Center

A Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Center


Learn more about the Heartland EJ Center

What is a Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Center?

The Heartland Environmental Justice Center: A Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Center is one of 16 new centers across the United States to assist underserved and overburdened communities.  Through training, technical assistance, community assessments, collaboration, and education, the Heartland EJ Center will help communities build their capacity to access funding and resources to help achieve environmental and energy goals.   

Learn more about TC TACS 

What is “Environmental Justice”?

Environmental Justice is the equitable distribution of environmental benefits and burdens.  It includes amending previous harmful environmental policies and practices that disproportionately impact marginalized and underrepresented communities and neighborhoods and ensuring those most impacted by environmental decisions are part of the decision-making, planning and implementation process for future projects. 

What is “Energy Justice”?

Energy Justice is similar to Environmental Justice and focuses on energy production, design, and distribution, with a goal to make energy accessible, affordable, and clean.

Do you only provide services in Wichita, Kansas?

The Heartland Environmental Justice Center serves communities across Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and adjoining Indigenous Nations. We support rural, remote, suburban, and urban areas who experience disproportionate negative environmental and/or energy burdens.

Do you give grants?

No, we do not give grants or directly distribute funding for projects. Instead, we help build the capacity of on-the-ground organizations who work on EJ issues to apply for grants. We provide trainings and one-on-one technical assistance to EJ organizations to apply to all types of grants – federal, state, local, foundation, etc.

Can you write my grant application for me?

No, we cannot write grants for others. But we can help you through the process of applying for grants, from getting registered on grant websites, to developing concepts and measures of success, to getting the application submitted.

What do you mean by “underserved”?

There is no single definition for underserved communities. However, this term is used to describe communities who, through no fault of their own – and often because of a system that has disproportionately and discriminatorily created barriers  – have not had adequate access to resources and services to support the health and well-being of the community. This typically includes Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; populations with limited English speaking; low income and underemployed communities; and rural, and remote communities. In the context of environmental justice, underserved communities also experience disproportionate impacts of environmental harms such as air and water pollution, heat island effects, and other hazards, as well as the negative health impacts associated with those sources of pollution. 

From a recent EPA grant RFA: When EPA uses the term “underserved communities” it has the meaning defined in Executive Order 13985: Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, which defines “underserved communities” as “populations sharing a particular characteristic, as well as geographic communities, that have been systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic, social, and civic life….” Underserved communities may include people/communities of color, low income, tribal and indigenous populations, and other vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, and those who have pre-existing medical conditions. 

Do you work for EPA?

We do not work for EPA. Our team is comprised of a team of full-time staff and network of partner organizations that work together to fulfill our common purpose; to assist communities most in need by navigating them to environmental and energy equity resources. Together, we work to ensure all communities can access the benefits from recent, groundbreaking investments in clean air, clean water, and a clean energy future. Our center is funded by EPA to enable us to provide our services to communities at no cost.

What kinds of services do you provide?
  • Help communities and organizations identify and pursue funding for environmental justice initiatives. 
  • Provide training on grant writing and management, conducting community needs assessments, civic engagement and leadership development. 
  • Provide technical assistance on grant development and management, support community needs assessments, share technical expertise in engineering, environmental, and energy topics. 
  • Support initiatives to advance energy justice through clean energy development and workforce training, connecting communities with financing options, and help develop relationships between communities, developers and other stakeholders in the clean energy sector. 
Is there a cost to access services?

No, there is no cost for services for our target communities and activities that fit the scope and mission of the HEJC. 

I have projects in mind, how can the EJ Center help?

Contact us, and we will set up a time to learn more about your project ideas and determine whether it is something that we or one of our partners can assist with through training or technical services.

How can I share my thoughts and ideas?

We are always open to learn more about what organizations and communities in Region 7 want to accomplish. We may not always be able to provide support through the HEJC (e.g. if your project idea does not align with EJ and energy justice or the mission of our Center), but we may be able to connect you to other resources, individuals and organizations who can help. 

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