The Justice 40 Opportunity Navigator (J40N) collaborates with federally designated environmental justice communities to fund and implement projects that improve their health, climate resilience, and economic opportunity.

What’s Happening?

Allegheny River Valley: Ignite EJ Workshop (May 2, 5-9PM)

Ohio River Valley: Ignite EJ Workshop (May 22, 5-9PM) – REGISTER

Monongahela River Valley: Ignite EJ Workshop (May 30, 5-9PM) – REGISTER

Spring into New Resources: Resources for EJ Communities (March 28, 6:30-8PM)

EJ Printmaking & Graffiti Writing Workshop (March 16th, 1-3PM)

Current EJ Projects

$4,984,453 of investment raised for community energy, resilience hub, green space, food, and engagement projects to date

RISE Project (Rural Innovation through Solar Energy) (Beaver County: RiverWise, PA Solar Center, NSR)

Energy Efficiency Empowerment (E3)(Sharpsburg-Hazelwood-East Pittsburgh: NSR, Hazelwood Initiative)

Solar Installer Certification Program (Millvale: NSR, CCAC, Triboro Ecodistrict)

Millvale Food + Energy Hub (Millvale: NSR)

Beltzhoover Institute of Arts & Sciences (Beltzhoover: NSR, South Hilltop Men’s Group)

Franklin Avenue Park (Aliquippa: RiverWise, Uncommon Grounds)

Beaver County Food Hub (Ambridge: RiverWise, Crop & Kettle)

SWPA Environmental Justice Storytelling Project (SW PA: RiverWise)

Submit your Community Project for J40N Support

What is Justice 40 and Environmental Justice?

EJ census Allegheny Beaver CountyIn recent years, the Federal government has made an historic commitment to invest in disadvantaged communities located in Environmental Justice (EJ) census tracts through the Justice 40 initiative.

The Environmental Justice designation identifies communities that are considered disadvantaged due to exceeding the burden thresholds established in one or more of the following areas: climate change, energy, health, housing, legacy pollution, transportation, waste & wastewater, and workforce development, and an associated socioeconomic burden.

The commitment states that 40 percent of the overall benefits of almost $2 trillion in certain Federal investments, such as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), flow to disadvantaged EJ communities. The categories of investment that fall under Justice 40 are: climate change, clean energy and energy efficiency, clean transit, affordable and sustainable housing, training and workforce development, remediation and reduction of legacy pollution, and the development of critical clean water and wastewater infrastructure.

These grants offer a generational opportunity for our region to move towards a more sustainable and equitable future. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has designated PA Environmental Justice areas for implementing the Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy. Image: Federal EJ census tracts in Allegheny and Beaver County, PA as visualized on the Vibrancy Portal.

Explore Federal EJ Tracts in Allegheny + Beaver County

Use the Federal Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool

Supporting Environmental Justice Community Projects


America has always used our vast resources to invest in the growth of some communities and industries more than others.  The result has been incredible opportunity, growth, and wealth for those receiving the investment. Through Justice 40, the federal government is directing grant funding to communities who have not received equitable funding throughout our nation’s history.

Environmental Justice communities are places that have experienced generational disinvestment often alongside the consequences of polluting and extracting industries. NSR and RiverWise launched the Justice 40 Opportunity Navigator to support them in building the collaborative capacity necessary to obtain grant funds and implement projects that improve their health and climate resilience.

We believe that sustainable, vibrant communities have resilient infrastructure that balances investment in their “hardware” (buildings, roads, bridges, transit, water and energy systems) and “software” (engagement, education, capacity, health, and relationships of people). Environmental justice projects in our region should endeavor to address both.  Whether led by nonprofits or local government, projects need to demonstrate their collaborative capacity in order to be strong candidates for funding.  Community-led nonprofits are uniquely positioned to lead “software” development as well as participating on “hardware” projects. Research shows that dollars invested in local community stakeholders are more likely to be spent in that community driving greater economic benefits.

Submit your Community Project for J40N Support

Have an environmental justice experience or insight that you would like to share about your community? Take a few minutes to complete the Community Voice Survey and you’ll automatically be entered into a $100 monthly gift card drawing!

Complete the Community Voice Survey

Pictured: Members of the EJ Genius Advisory Group and J40N organizers at the Partnership for Southern Equity SURJE Summit in Memphis

The Justice 40 Opportunity Navigator


EJ Genius Advisory Group

Representatives from frontline EJ communities inform the program design, participation criteria, and provide technical assistance to project leaders.


Education + Project Development

EJ community projects ignite through educational workshops and launch with project development incubator cohorts using a restorative, resilience framework. (applicant criteria and dates TBA)


Technical Assistance

Project teams receive direct support services from the EJ Coordinator, EJ Project Manager, EJ Grants Manager, and EJ Genius Advisors to apply for grants, manage funds, and implement projects.

Community Project Resources

Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (EPA, IRA) (via Sustainable Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission)

The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act established the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG) program, including the availability of up to $4.3 billion for CPRG Implementation Grants (IG) administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Entities eligible to apply for CPRG-IG funds include lead organizations that were direct recipients of CPRG planning grants and other state, municipal, tribal, and territorial entities that seek to implement greenhouse gas reduction measures. For southwestern Pennsylvania, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) will lead the 10-county region’s application to the CPRG-IG program.

To support a regional application, SPC has developed a Project Candidate Intake Form to collect information from potential project sponsors that is aligned with EPA’s evaluation criteria. The information provided to SPC via this form will enable the best strategy for a regional grant application. Project sponsors are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the EPA’s eligibility criteria as described in pages 31-50 of the notice of funding opportunity (NOFO).

Community Change Grants (EPA, IRA)

EPA’s new Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grants program (Community Change Grants) has announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for approximately $2 billion dollars in Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funds in environmental and climate justice activities to benefit disadvantaged communities through projects that reduce pollution, increase community climate resilience, and build community capacity to address environmental and climate justice challenges. These place-based investments will be focused on community-driven initiatives to be responsive to community and stakeholder input.

EPA is accepting applications on a rolling basis for $2 billion in Inflation Reduction Act funding available to support community-driven projects that build capacity for communities to tackle environmental and climate justice challenges, strengthen their climate resilience, and advance clean energy.

The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act created the Environmental and Climate Justice grant program in section 138 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and provided EPA with $2.8 billion in grant funding for the program for projects to benefit communities with environmental justice concerns, and $200 million for technical assistance in direct response to feedback from communities and environmental justice leaders who have long called for capacity building support for communities and their partners as they work to access critical federal resources.

Read the announcement for the NOFO

View the Community Change Grants Notice of Funding Opportunity (pdf) (1.6 MB)

Explore Potential Partners by Joining the SWPA Regional Teaming List (coordinated by Sustainable Pittsburgh)

To apply for this opportunity, view the NOFO on  Applications packages must be submitted on or before November 21, 2024 at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).

For more information, please contact

About the J40N

The Justice 40 Opportunity Navigator program is led by New Sun Rising and RiverWise, guided by the EJ Genius Advisors, supported by District PGH, with significant contributions from the Center for Shared Prosperity Environmental Working Group.  Startup activities, such as establishing the EJ Genius Advisory Group and attending the SURJE Summit in Memphis, have been self-funded through unrestricted funds from New Sun Rising and RiverWise.

More details about the program, participant criteria, and how to apply for Ignite Environmental Justice Workshops and the Launch Environmental Justice Project Incubator will be released in Spring 2024. Interested to partner or support? Email