April 11, 2024

By Latinos, for Latinos, Amistades Receives $500,000 grant from EPA for climate justice initiative

Justicia Juntos or Justice Together, looks to raise awareness and provide education on climate resilience.

Amistades Amistades staff working in a community garden in Douglas, Ariz.
Courtesy Amistades

Amistades, a nonprofit led by Latinos that serves Latinos, has been awarded $500,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to support an initiative aimed at addressing climate change.

Justicia Juntos or Justice Together, looks to raise awareness and provide education on climate resilience specifically tailored to Latino-dominant communities who are disproportionately affected.

Claudia Jasso, President and CEO of Amistades, said the project kicks off on May 1st, and will initially focus on the 85706 zip code area of South Tucson.

Amistades will engage with the community through listening sessions to identify environmental needs based on personal experiences, to develop solutions.

“Drawing on those community stories will be really critical so that we can develop culturally relevant and appropriate tools that these individuals, families, communities need,” Jasso said.

Moreover, she highlighted that climate action remains an under-discussed topic within the Latino community.

A goal of the initiative is to establish a family-centric climate coalition, in collaboration with local partners like the Chispa Arizona, The Arizona Center for Empowerment, and the City of Tucson as a means to educate and raise awareness around topics like climate change.

From that, a youth climate coalition will be established.

“We’re going to talk to youth about ecology, the importance of preserving our culture as it takes shape in nature, in our neighborhoods, in our Barrios,” Jasso said. “This approach is one that we believe is unique and is part of why our organization has been successful over the years in carrying this kind of work forward.”

In turn, the youth coalition will turn around and train future climate advocates.

One of the more long-term goals from the award from the EPA is the creation of cultural climate-resilience hubs to provide relief from extreme heat as well as access to other resources.

“These are going to be place-based hubs, they’re going to provide cooling stations, spaces for storytelling art, knowledge sharing, everything will be designed to be inclusive and equitable, to promote and honor elevate our Latino culture,” Jasso said.

The funding will be allocated over three years from the EPA’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving (EJCPS) Cooperative Agreement Program, which provides financial assistance to organizations working to address local environmental or public health issues.

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