RCE Greater Atlanta - 2019

Environmental Justice Academy
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Environmental Justice Academy
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Greater Atlanta
Contributing organization(s) : 
Center for Sustainable Communities
Georgia Institute of Technology
US Environmental Protection Agency
Atlanta Metropolitan College
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Garry Harris
Organizational Affiliation: 
Center for Sustainable Communities
Jennifer Hirch
Organizational Affiliation: 
Georgia Institute of Technology
Sheryl Good
Organizational Affiliation: 
US Environmental Protection Agency
Ann Heard
Organizational Affiliation: 
Atlanta Metropolitan State College
Format of project: 
Power Point, Brochure and Manual
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Thursday, October 31, 2019
President Executive Order 12898 Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Federal Agencies
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
United States
US National
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Atlanta Metropolitan State College
1630 Metropoltan Parkway SW
Atlanta, GA 30310
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
The Environmental Justice Academy is specifically designed to provide comprehensive training to lower-income, vulnerable and marginalized members of communities who have or have the likelihood of being severely negatively disproportionately impacted by environmental challenges including air and water pollution, toxic waste and chemicals among others. These include some of the poorest and low wealth communities in the country; many of these communities include minority communities and communities of color including indigenous populations.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
The sustainable development challenges experienced by marginalized and vulnerable include the following
(1) Poverty
(2) Hunger
(3) Inequalities
(4) Low-Quality Education
(5) Lack of Clean Water and Sanitation
(6) Unavailable Decent Work and Economic Growth
(7) Vast Inequalities including Health Disparities
(8) Cities and Communities do not employ sustainable community techniques and practices
(9) Climate In Action and Justice Impacts
(10) Lack of Strong Institutional Involvement

March, 2019 to July, 2019
The Environmental Justice Academy provides a myriad of training modules designed to empower communities challenged by severe environmental challenges. These training modules are designed to enhance the knowledge, skills, and abilities of community leadership to mitigate severely impacted communities. These communities are disproportionately impacted by routine and accidental exposures to harmful and dangerous toxins and waste and pollution. However, with rare exceptions do these communities possess the knowledge to perform collaborative problem-solving in an effective manner. Without the training, these communities will not have the ability to limit harm to the residents of these communities resulting in a degraded quality of life, and perhaps even loss of life.
The Academy is an intensive, leadership development program designed to give participants the skills to successfully identify environmental challenges and achieve sustainable, community environmental improvement goals. The primary objective includes acquiring interpersonal skills and community organizing tools to identify environmental challenges and achieve sustainable, environmental improvement goals.
How to leverage human, social, intellectual, technical, legal, and financial resources to make
long-term community progress;
• How to use consensus-building processes to facilitate successful negotiations/collaborations;
• How to increase capacity to address environmental and/or public health issues; and
• A basic understanding of environmental justice and environmental regulations
Activities and/or practices employed: 
The Environmental Justice Academy has been implemented on multiple occasions with success. The primary activities of the Academy include the following
(1) Training on nine (9) separate training modules related to the EPA's Collaborative Problem Solving Model for pollution mitigation
(2) Exposure to community redevelopment and revitalization methodology including ECO Districts Protocol
(3) Learning and interactive exercises related to the successful deployment of the Sustainable Development Goals
(4) Case studies involving computer-based tools such as Environmental Justice Analysis tool
(5) Learning exercises to ensure collective impact principles are understood
(6) Practical field tours and exercises to enhance learning and reinforce key principles
(7) Group team problem-solving exercises
(8) Instruction by various expert presenters, speakers
(9) Project-Based Learning exercise focused on community problem solving
(10) Course materials and presentations include environmental laws and regulations, community capacity
building, strategic partnerships, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, project management,
program evaluation, and resource management. The EJ Academy also introduces students to the
EcoDistricts Model for community revitalization and EPA’s Collaborative Problem-Solving Model, a
a seven-step process for community leaders, community members and stakeholders to work together to
achieve positive, sustainable outcomes.

Size of academic audience: 
Recent Class; 40; Total Cohorts; 120
The results of the Environmental Justice Academy include the following;
(1) Training of over a hundred (100) community members and leaders in collaborative problem solving and collective impact
(2) Leadership Development for key community champions
(3) Key partnerships developed with front line and vulnerable communities
(4) Capacity building in frontline and vulnerable communities and related organizations
(5) Knowledge of Sustainable Development Goals and ways of successful deployment
(6) Design, Development, and Deployment of Projects by participates to mitigate actual impacts
(7) Instruction in nine-step collaborative problem-solving module for collective impact
(8) Regional and national impact and mitigation implementation
(9) Empowerment of community leaders by critical knowledge, skills, and abilities related to environmental justice
(10) Partnership with an expert laden alumni association
(11) Each participant will compile a portfolio to ensure effective post classroom engagement
Completing a community portfolio, which will assist in securing funding, identifying partners,
describing community resources and challenges and establishing stakeholder credibility;
The portfolio will in part consists of the following;
• Complete a plan to guide organizational activities;
• Identify and secure potential partners to assist with addressing community challenges;
• Interact directly with technical experts from EPA and other organizations; and
• Receive individualized feedback, guidance, and assistance from experts.

Lessons learned: 
Lessons Learned
(1) The Environmental Justice Academy is needed across the country and beyond; as many as ten host organizations as far away as Alaska and California are interested in being host organizations for the Academy training
(2) The Academy has been effective in training community leaders to mitigate environmental impacts and revitalized communities
(3) The Academy needs to be flexible to address local environmental concerns and challenges ( ie., modify content)
(4) The Academy needs to address a broad range of environmental concerns and impacts including severe weather, climate
(5) The Academy needs to be offered in flexible formats including online
(6) The Academy needs to be offered in multiple languages
(7) The Academy has the opportunity well beyond its current content and configuration
(8) The Academy has the expertise to carry out its mission and purpose
(9) The Academy needs to ensure sustainability through fundraising, attracting philanthropic donors and funders, in-kind donations
(10) The Academy needs to modify its curriculum to stay current and relevant

Key messages: 
The Environmental Justice Academy is a leadership development program designed to assist underserved, marginalized and vulnerable populations to utilize collaborative problem solving to make their communities greener, cleaner, healthier and safer and more climate-resilient through the use of collective impact.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
The AMSC-Greater Atlanta RCE Environmental Justice Academy is a working group of the Greater Atlanta RCE.
Greater Atlanta RCE partner members work in collaboration to host the Academy; these partners members include the following Center for the Sustainable Communities; Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Georgia Institute of Technology and US Environmental Protection Agency
The AMSC-Greater Atlanta RCE is integral to the focus on the Greater Atlanta RCE mission and strategic plan which includes a focus on the area of environmental justice and equity.
We received a Turner Foundation Grant to support the implementation of the Greater Atlanta -AMSC Environmental Justice Academy.The Academy enjoys hundreds of hours of support and project development expertise from numerous volunteers; key partners and sponsors readily contribute to the growth of the Academy as well.
The Environmental Justice Academy has an aggressive capital development and fundraising initiative to ensure growth and sustainability


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon EnvironmentalJusticeTeam.jpg (133.53 KB) Environmental Justice Academy Team
Image icon 20190219_200755_resized.jpg (219.33 KB) Vice President Al Gore at Environmental Justice Gathering In Virginia Sponsored by Environmental Justice Academy
Image icon 20171203_095009_resized.jpg (2.1 MB) Announcement for Environmental Justice Academy
Image icon EJAAcademyGroupPic.jpg (375.36 KB) Community Leaders Participating in Latest Environmental Justice Academy Cohort
References and reference materials: 
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere 
SDG 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture 
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 
SDG 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all 
SDG 7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all 
SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all 
SDG 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation 
SDG 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries 
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels 
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Disaster Risk Reduction 
Traditional Knowledge  
Curriculum Development 
Plants & Animals 
Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development – Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Building capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Empowering and mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level