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Liberty Hill: Connecting The Dots:

Liberty Hill Foundation, Santa Monica’s largest public foundation, has awarded $269,000 to 12 groups doing “groundbreaking grassroots environmental health and justice work in Los Angeles,” according to a foundation Spokesperson. “These outstanding organizations are addressing many of the critical environmental issues faced today, including working to mitigate toxic threats near schools and residential neighborhoods, creating ecologically-friendly mass transit, and eliminating lead paint in low-income housing throughout the county.”

A hallmark of this year’s grants is the convergence of environmental justice work with anti-poverty organizing.

“Community groups are connecting the dots,” said Torie Osborn, Executive Director of the Liberty Hill Foundation. “They’re making the connections between poverty and pollution, between low wages, poor housing, poor health, and environmental injustice.”

Los Angeles is the most densely industrial region of the country with 20,000 factories. People of color in Los Angeles are two to three times more likely to live near a hazardous waste facility than Anglos. From 1970 to 1990, the risk of living next to a toxic waste facility increased threefold for people of color in Los Angeles.

Liberty Hill’s Environmental Justice Fund is dedicated to improving public health in low-income communities that suffer disproportionately from environmental pollution. Only three percent of all charitable funds go to environmental organizations, and only one-tenth of that goes to environmental justice work.

Since 1996, Liberty Hill has given more than $2.2 million to environmental justice community organizations in Los Angeles County.

Organizations receiving two-year grants are:

Bus Riders Union, $30,000 (over two years) for the Clean Air, Clean Lungs, Clean Buses Campaign that promotes clean fuel mass transit as a pollution prevention strategy for the Los Angeles region.

Del Amo Action Committee, $30,000 (second year) to inform residents about the health impacts of toxic DDT contamination, secure permanent relocation for affected residents and clean the area up thoroughly.

Healthy Homes Collaborative, $30,000 (second year) to train tenant leaders who will identify and clean up lead poisoning in apartment buildings.

Pacoima Beautiful, $30,000 (second year) for a Community Inspectors Program, training residents to document environmental hazards and to report their findings to regulatory agencies.

Unión de Vecinos, $25,000 (over two years) to educate Boyle Heights residents about the environmental hazards in the area and mobilize them to participate in decision-making for local development projects and citing of industrial facilities.

Organizations receiving one-year grants are:

Amigos de los Rios, $10,000 to reinvigorate the areas surrounding the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel Rivers by returning 17 miles of parks and greenways to community use.

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, $28,000 to close a hazardous chrome plating facility located next to the 28th Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles.

Committee to Bridge the Gap, $15,000 to advocate for improved security and protections at nuclear facilities and challenge the onslaught of environmental deregulation of radioactive waste at the state and national level.

Community Partners Council, $15,000 to guarantee local community input on the planned expansion of the 710 Freeway by increasing awareness of expansion plans, their impacts and developing environmentally-friendly alternatives.

Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, $19,000 to guarantee local community oversight in the implementation of the historic $500 million community benefits agreement as part of LAX’s modernization plans that include environmental mitigation for area schools and residences, noise abatement and living wage jobs and job training for local residents.

People’s Community Organization for Reform and Empowerment, $12,000 to train local high school students and community members to build and use air sampling buckets to test for a myriad of air pollutants in their communities and present their findings to policy makers.Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, $25,000 to challenge landlords and public officials who allow slum conditions and residential displacement of working families along the Figueroa Corridor development area in southern downtown Los Angeles.

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