Long Island Sound Lighthouse

Restore America’s Estuaries announces new partnership with EPA to benefit Long Island Sound Communities

For immediate release: June 1, 2023
Contact: Rob Shane – rshane@estuaries.org / Shahela Begum – sbegum@estuaries.org

Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) is pleased to introduce the Long Island Sound Community Impact Fund (LISCIF), a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and with funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

In coordination with our partners in the region, particularly Save the Sound and the Long Island Sound Study, RAE plans to release our first Request for Proposals (RFP) in the Fall of 2023. The competitive grant program will focus on activities that address challenges and opportunities facing overburdened and underserved communities within the geographic scope of the Long Island Sound Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP).

“EPA and the Long Island Sound Study estuary program are pleased to partner with Restore America’s Estuaries to assist underserved and overburdened communities tackle local environmental issues that will also improve the use, enjoyment, and health of Long Island Sound,” said EPA Region 2 Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “This is an important and critical step in advancing environmental justice for the communities of the Sound and watersheds.”

“Protecting the ecology of Long Island Sound and maximizing outdoor recreation and enjoyment for all people who live close to the Sound has long been a priority for EPA. We are grateful that President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is providing funding to help local groups design projects to address the needs of historically overburdened communities,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. 

“RAE’s Inclusive Coasts Initiative has worked to expand access to funding for all coastal communities as part of our strategic plan” says, Daniel Hayden President and CEO of RAE. “The LISCIF program’s combination of small grants and training aligns with our goal to expand access to and opportunity for coastal investments.”

The Fund intends to distribute at least $2 million in competitive grants, and over the next five years, provide technical support and capacity building for organizations in the region to advance environmental justice. EPA defines environmental justice as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. In addition to funding, RAE will also facilitate annual peer-to-peer learning and tech-transfer meetings among awardees and key stakeholders in the region.

RAE will begin seeking input from a review committee to determine awards following the announcement of the initial funding round. Eligible projects and activities will be community driven and address challenges/risks faced by communities experiencing environmental justice issues.

Funding is available for:

  • Projects that result in quantifiable pollutant prevention or reduction.
  • Restoring habitat within the Important Coastal Habitat Types targeted by LISS.
  • Projects that foster a diverse balance and abundant populations of fish, birds, and wildlife.
  • Public engagement, knowledge, and stewardship.
  • Projects that enhance community resilience and sustainability.
  • Planning and design that set-the-stage for implementation of water quality projects, eligible habitat restoration projects and resilience projects.
  • Community-based science projects.
  • Data management and integration projects.
  • Other similar activities that the applicant proposes, and EPA approves, that are consistent with section 119 of the Clean Water Act.

Additionally, RAE announced the hiring of Shahela Begum as LISCIF Program Director.

Shahela brings years of experience in working with under-resourced regions in New York City. Most recently, as a senior environmental conservation educator for Wildlife Conservation Society and the Rockaway Institute for Sustainability & Equity, she created curricula and educated coastline communities.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Hunter College, earned a master’s degree in environmental Conservation Education from New York University, and obtained a Permaculture Design Certificate from the Center for Bioregional Living.

“I am excited to join Restore America’s Estuaries as the Program Director for the Long Island Sound Community Impact Fund” said Shahela. “This is an unprecedented opportunity to support communities impacted by environmental injustice and I look forward to collaborating with many community-based organizations working towards the protection, restoration, and overall health of the Long Island Sound ecosystem.”

For more information on LISCIF, please visit www.estuaries.org/liscif or direct questions by email to sbegum@estuaries.org.