WE ACT Announces Pilot Cities Program; Recognizes CleanAirNow as First Recipient

KANSAS CITY–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Furthering their commitment to empowering community organizations, WE ACT for Environmental Justice today announced the launch of a new program to ensure historic levels of Federal investment benefit their intended communities.

The Justice40rward Pilot Cities program aims to ensure the successful implementation of the Justice40 Initiative, which mandates that at least 40% of the benefits of certain federal programs must flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution. The program will select one nonprofit organization in five metropolitan areas; Kansas City nonprofit organization CleanAirNow was selected as the first recipient and will receive $100k in funding.

“This program creates accountability to maximize federal funding allocations, educates local and state officials about the Justice40 Initiative and adds needed capacity to community-based organizations to advance meaningful projects designed to address environmental justice directly,” said Dana Johnson, Senior Director of Strategy and Federal Policy for WE ACT for Environmental Justice at a stakeholder convening today. “We are thrilled to collaborate with CleanAirNow, and to recognize them for their efforts.”

To be selected as a Pilot City, organizations must have one to two “shovel-ready projects” to showcase their work. Selected Pilot City organizations agree to deepen relationships with elected officials and move to codify environmental justice bills into law. The work and lessons learned will create a model and process to inform the development and creation of accountability review boards nationally.

“The environmental justice movement is shaping community-led solutions and policies: our communities cannot continue to be sacrifice zones. Justice40 is an opportunity to invest in disadvantaged communities; however, our Brown, Black, immigrant and Indigenous people need to oversee and guide the implementation to ensure transparency and accountability,” said Beto Lugo Martinez, Executive Director of CleanAirNow. “This looks like a just transition to zero-emission energy sources, affordable and sustainable housing, training and workforce development, remediation and reduction of legacy pollution, and the development of clean water and wastewater infrastructure that center solutions for overburdened communities.”

Justice40rward is a community-led effort launched by WE ACT for Environmental Justice to ensure transparency and collaboration between elected officials, municipalities, and those who live in disadvantaged communities that the Justice40 Initiative was designed to support. Billions of federal dollars in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and other appropriations are available to address environmental injustices in their communities; these tours bring together stakeholders and identify areas of collaboration to maximize impact.

WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income residents participate meaningfully in creating sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York and Washington, D.C. Visit us at weact.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

CleanAirNow (CAN) is a climate and environmental justice organization taking action to bring systemic change in industry and government policies and practices to protect health and dismantle environmental racism and inequities that perpetuate the unequal distribution of environmental hazards in fenceline communities.


Catalina V. Silva

Humanity Communications Collective

(571) 488-5020