All plenary sessions were moderated by Vernice Miller‐Travis, Senior Advisor for Environmental Justice and Equitable Development, Skeo. She shared the social media tools that  the audience is encouraged to use  including Livestreaming, Facebook posts, and Twitter  throughout the Summit,  reviewed the agenda  and major Summit themes, and acknowledged  Mustafa Ali as the heartbeat, and Ms. Holly Wilson and Dr. Marva King,  as the  left and right ventricle of this Summit. She  stated that  these three  people are  responsible for bringing  the 2016 National Funding Resources  and  Training  Summit to  Revitalize Vulnerable Communities into  existence. She  then introduced Mustafa Ali.

Mustafa Santiago Ali, Senior Advisor to the Administrator for Environmental Justice and Community Revitalization & Assistant Associate Administrator for Environmental Justice provided opening framing remarks welcoming  both the in‐person and live streaming participants to this historic gathering focused on moving our most vulnerable communities  from Surviving to  Thriving. As  the principal initiator of this Summit he told  the audience that today and tomorrow are a monumental and transformational  moment  that some  thought  would  never materialize.  Some have  asked  why are we focusing on vulnerable communities? Why do  we think that the  investments that can  happen in these communities  can yield positive results?

Over the  next two days we will be  answering these  questions by  focusing on best practices, and leveraging  resources to make change inside  of  our most  vulnerable communities. As we began  to plan  and develop the content  for  this  summit,  we had  over 75 conversations with a wide range  of stakeholders and organizations about what  remains to be  done  to  gain  traction and fill in the  gaps to invest in our most underserved  communities? Over 30  organizations  and many individuals agreed  to  come  together to design, plan  and support this Summit to change the dynamics in our most vulnerable communities. He welcomed the  over 300 participants in the room,  and over 100  people and organizations  participating online.

He closed by  quoting Dr. Martin  Luther King,  Jr. who  once said  "that there comes a time when silence is betrayal,"  Mustafa added to this  quote there  also  comes  a  time when men  and women  of good conscience  must stand‐up and say  no  more. Please note that  we have  anchored this summit in  the memory  of four  people who have given their lives in  the course of this work and named our session tracks in their honor – Dorothy Purley, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Dayna Alston and Hazel  M. Johnson. Mustafa then introduced  Administrator McCarthy  as one who profoundly gets it and who  vigorously supports the work that we  are doing in  communities.

Gina McCarthy, Administrator, EPA set the  stage  with a call to  action. She noted that  EPA’s  mission is to  protect public  health. We  are  facing  tremendous public health  and environmental challenges, and that low income and minority communities face some  of the biggest challenges in terms of  environmental impacts.  The biggest environmental challenge we have is poverty. What  are the tools and technologies that we can invest to create opportunity in  these  communities  of need?

It's  going  to be  exciting to see  what communities can do to transform their problems and drive additional investments that can change lives  and change  communities.  EPA has to start paying attention to  these  solutions and  attack our environmental challenges  in  a way that creates a f uture that is  amenable to everyone.  So  it’s  exciting  to  see  the  agency focusing on  revitalizing vulnerable communities, which is  Mustafa's vision. She came into  government to  positively impact  people's lives. Our vision of  the future is to look for real  transformation  and to  fight the  cynicism that  holds us back.

Jacqueline Patterson, Director, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Environmental and Climate Justice Program, Jacqueline Patterson, MSW, MPH, has served as  a trainer, organizer, researcher,  and policy analyst on international and domestic issues including women’s  rights, HIV&AIDS, violence against  women, racial justice, economic justice, and environmental and climate justice. She serves on  the Boards of Directors for Center  for Story Based Strategies, Institute of the Black World, GRID Alternatives, and  US Climate Action Network.

She noted the critical importance  of engaging  the  frontline communities  in this work and shared examples  of community  groups doing great, innovative work in the face of  injustice (Black Mesa Water Coalition, One Voice Mississippi, Zero Waste Detroit, Free Your  Voice Coalition in South  Baltimore, Black Lives Matter,  Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Advancing Equity and  Opportunity,  EJ Leadership  Forum). She emphasized  "Listen, listen, listen," and  the  motto,  “Nothing  about us without us." We  need to recognize the intersectionality of systemic racism, sexism, and move from systems of extraction and domination to systems of  resilience, regeneration  and collaboration to  support the eco‐system that we all rely so much  upon.

Dr. Cecilia Martinez, Co‐Founder, Center for Environment, Energy and Democracy (CEED), Dr. Cecilia Martinez is the co‐founder and Director of Research Programs at the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy (CEED). She  has led a  variety of projects  to address  sustainable development  at the  local  and  international levels. Her research is  focused on  the  development of  energy and environmental strategies that promote  equitable  and sustainable policies. She was  recently named  one  of the White House Champions for Climate Equity.

She shared that they started a non‐profit to undertake research, data collection and analysis that was developed  with,  and  on  behalf  of vulnerable  communities themselves. She noted the disconnect  between climate/energy professionals and  the realities of vulnerable communities.  The wealth gap is increasing, and communities are not  vulnerable by  accident, but due  to public and private policies including home  ownership programs, which is the  principle household wealth builder. We need to rethink the kinds of partnerships we need to  build. Focus on building small businesses (which supports 60‐80%  of employment  in the  country), in vulnerable communities and building multiple layers – private  capital, public programs,  workers, youth – to support change in  a community.

Calvin Booker, Corporate Vice President, Waste Management Inc., Mr. Calvin E. Booker Sr. is the Corporate Vice President of Public Affairs for Waste Management Inc.   He joined Waste  Management in July 1991 in  Dallas, Texas,  and has become  an invaluable asset to  the company utilizing  his knowledge and  relationships with local, state and  federal legislators.  He is  responsible for the organizational development and strategic implementation of Governmental  Affairs across 48  states  and WM’s  Federal Office located in  Washington, D.C.    

Emphasized that EPA and community  voices  have changed their  business  model over the  past  25  years.  Community voices have pushed for  change that  has empowered him  and  others to  make  changes on the inside of their companies. Every Waste Management site is  now expected to  have a plan for  community  engagement. Many changes have  occurred in Waste  Management Inc.  regarding the  siting  and location of their facilities, their operations and standard waste management practices. Your work has allowed  me to do good work  inside the  company to push for change  and help communities. EPA has an  important role in helping to estimate risks and impacts (e.g. EJ Screen) and ensure  permitting is done equitably. He  emphasized  the need  for  private companies to better understand  the communities they  serve. 

Robert Garcia, Director‐Counsel, The City Project of Los Angeles, Robert García is  an attorney who engages, educates, and empowers  communities through  innovative  planning, healthy green land use, equitable development,  and compliance with civil rights and environmental justice policies and laws. He is the Founding  Director and Counsel  of  The  City  Project, a non‐profit legal and  policy team based in Los Angeles, California.

He noted that the lack of  access to parks and open space for youth of  color is an issue of civil rights and  social justice. People of color  suffer first  and foremost from  environmental issues  and inequity. He  emphasized  that if  we don’t recognize these fundamental disparities in terms of access to natural resources then we cannot begin  to solve the problem.  The  mainstream  environmental movement forgot the people –  you have to include people in the process. As communities become greener, people of color are displaced.   To combat this loss of community it is  important that  federal agencies enforce Title VI of the  Civil Rights  Act of 1964,  and follow through on  the  tenets of  Presidential Executive  Order 12898  and  the Environmental Justice 2020  Action  Agenda.  It is good  to see that access to parks and open space are now included as  indicators within the EJ  Screen tool. The City  Project has developed 5 steps for equity  planning to ensure  that  environmental benefits are distributed  and invested  equitably.  The  five steps include:

  1. Describe what you plan  to do.
  2. Analyze the benefits and burdens on all people.
  3. Analyze the  alternatives.
  4. Include people of color and  low‐income people  in every step.
  5. Have an implementation plan to distribute benefits  and burdens  fairly and avoid discrimination.

Several questions were then  asked of  these plenary speakers by  the  audience before  the  morning  break.

Tuesday Luncheon ‐ Working with Foundations

Stuart Clarke, President, Town Creek Foundation, Stuart Clarke has been Executive Director of the  Town  Creek Foundation, based in Easton, Maryland since 2004. His previous philanthropic experience includes serving as a Program Officer  with the  Turner Foundation and as Development  Director of the  Southern  Partners Fund,  both in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Stuart emphasized to  participants that they need to get to know  the foundations they hope to receive  support from, and  understand the work that the foundation  does.  If they  support work like your work, then they  may be  inclined to support you.  Help them make the connections to your work and build financial relationships outside of grants.  If you  know one  foundation, then you know  one foundation. We  believe that if you  truly want to  address economic  inequality then  you can't  merely reproduce the same  economic systems and policies that produced the  economic disparities to  begin with.  Town Creek works to  collaborate with people who are  developing plans and creating new frameworks to ensure social equity is integrated into environmental, energy, climate and  economic policy. He emphasized  the  importance of integrating environmental equity  and justice into the green  energy economy and the climate and resiliency movement.  For example ‐ like the work currently underway to create  Baltimore’s resiliency hubs which  are  focused  on helping vulnerable  communities bounce  back after  extreme weather events. Another  example is the Green the  Church Summit (happening today  also in  Baltimore) to engage communities in greening their homes and churches.   


Beth Toner, VP for Communications, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,  Beth  Toner, MJ, RN, Senior  Communications Officer, has more  than  24 years  of experience in  marketing and corporate communications. She is also a registered nurse with clinical experience in long‐term care and community health settings. She helps provide strategic communications support to RWJ investments in projects and programs designed to give all in our society  an equal opportunity to pursue  a healthier life, to equip 21st‐century leaders from all sectors  to help build healthier communities and practices, and to engage businesses across a wide variety of industries to help build a  "Culture of Health".


Beth shared how their Change Leadership Program  promotes  a national movement to  establish health as  a shared value and essential priority across the nation, and to  ensure that people are supported to live the  healthiest  lives possible  where they  live, learn, work, and play.


Theresa Lewallen, Senior Program Director at the National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE) and Deputy Director of the National Program Center for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Leaders Program.  Theresa  Lewallen, MA,  CHES, has held a variety of  leadership  positions at the Association for  Supervision and Curriculum Development  (ACSD), where she played an  instrumental role in the  development  of ASCD’s whole child efforts. At ASCD, she directed a project funded by the  RWJF linking schools with local  public health agencies with project outcomes. 


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation  Culture of  Health  Leaders  is a network of leaders across disciplines, focusing on health and equity. They are looking for individuals  from community organizations and environmental justice groups to  participate in the 2017 program. The program includes  32‐38  hours  a month of  virtual and in‐person education. Participants come together four times  a  year  and are provided a  $20,000/year stipend.  


Melissa Green, MPH, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Deputy Director for Recruitment and Communications for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, Melissa is the Deputy Director for Communication  and Recruitment for the Clinical Scholars Program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson  Foundation. Melissa’s experience includes 15 years managing research intervention studies in community settings using principles of community based participatory research with and for African American and Latino populations.  


Melissa described this program  as one  that seeks clinical health providers who are  at least 5 years into  their career to workgroup a solution to  a “wicked” public health problem, which is a  problem with  no  easy fix  and that  undermines  A Culture of Health.  Must  think about how the  problem  emerged in the  first  place.  Applications  are  available  January  4th and due  March 8th.  Beth, Theresa,  and  Melissa held one‐one‐one  conversations with participations  as  requested  in a separate  board room  throughout the afternoon  and the next  day,  and staffed a table at the  Eco Café. 

Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., President and CEO, Hip Hop Caucus, Rev.  Lennox Yearwood Jr., President  and CEO of the  Hip Hop Caucus, is a minister, community activist and one  of the most influential people in Hip Hop political life. A national leader within the  green  movement, Rev. Yearwood has  been successfully  bridging the gap  between  communities  of color and environmental  advocacy for the past  decade. Rolling  Stone declared Rev. Yearwood one of our country’s “New Green Heroes”  and  Huffington  Post  named him one of the top ten change‐makers  in  the  green  movement. Rev. Yearwood founded the  Hip Hop Caucus in 2004 to  build a sustainable organization for Hip Hop politics.  He is a proud graduate of the Howard University School of Divinity.  


Asked, what  communities are  we talking  about?  Most are not  thriving, but barely  surviving, we  need to do  something as a country to lift these vulnerable communities up.  We are not all on the  same page  in  the  United States. Race and  wealth determine  where you live  and  how  long you will live. Not understanding  how things happen and  how they  work means that  other people decide  for  you, and that makes  you vulnerable. Environmental Justice communities become the path of least resistance, so companies use them and don’t respect them. They put things in these  communities  knowing that they will  harm or kill people.  Their company business  plan can  also serve as  a  death plan  for some. You have to fight against those types  of  business  models where  some communities are sacrificed to benefit  others. Dying, Surviving, and  Thriving. Climate justice  is  Black Lives  Matter too.  Eighty  percent of all black people support the clean power plan. Now I know you’ve been hurt and disrespected in the  past. But  we need to let go of those  feelings so we can  make change  happen, for the future. We need to build Climate Leadership and create climate music to excite a climate movement that spurs a climate  resistance  movement.


Rev. Yearwood was joined  by  Terence "TC"  Muhammad, Advocacy Manager  for the  Hip  Hop Caucus and  Nakisa Glover, National Climate  Justice Organizer for the Hip Hop  Caucus who both  offered  brief remarks to underscore how important it is that we come together to protect, defend and advance the interests  of our most vulnerable communities. It's a now or never proposition.


Wednesday Closing Plenary, Track Session Report Outs, and Next Steps


During the Track Session Report  Outs, track leads and co‐leads  were asked to share with the audience the key themes,  action items,  take‐aways  and recommendations from their sessions.  


Just Transition Workforce Development Training


Sharon Beard, National Institutes of Environmental Health  Sciences (NIEHS), shared that she and  her track  Co‐leads,  Chip Hughes (HHS/NIEHS), Khalil  Shahyd (Natural  Resources Defense Council), and José T. Bravo (Just Transition Alliance),  were able to gather  a diverse  group  of stakeholders together during the Summit to be able to  engage in the various sessions focused on Just Transition and Workforce Development Training. They discussed the need  to thoughtfully address the challenges of change and transition in a workforce sector and the need to  carefully plan for a just transition for all potential  workers so the burdens are not borne by a  few but  that all workers are able  to participate  in the  new  energy  economy.  For example,  for those workers transitioning from fossil fuel and extractive industries to  jobs in the green  economy  and  in renewable  energy fields, so that displacement, job loss, and loss of wages  is minimized with a  special  focus on  women, low‐income and  people of color. Another observation  is the recognition of  how many truly excellent job training and environmental workforce development  programs  there  are  and  the  amazing results they are achieving, especially in disadvantaged and vulnerable communities. But  that there needs to  be  an increase in the amount  of  federal resources  to support these great programs. Current appropriations  range  from  three to  six million dollars annually.

  • That  there  be a Just  Transition  and Workforce Development workgroup established within the Interagency Workgroup on Environmental Justice,
  • That the  federal government develop a comprehensive plan that spans across all agencies to meet the UN 2020  Sustainable  Development Goals  for the United States,
  • That those  working in the Workforce Development  sector need  better training and understanding of the Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requirements of Community Workforce and Project Labor Agreements,  and the need to gather  good data  to measure the  effective implementation of  these agreements to  ensure that  they will be justly and fairly implemented.


Business Opportunities and Access to Financial Resources

Carlton  Eley, US EPA  – The track  leaders,  Charlie Bartsch (EPA/OLEM), Dr. Erica Holloman  (Southeast CARE Coalition)  and Gilbert G Campbell (Volt  Energy, LLC),  worked together closely over the last five months to bring this track  to fruition. Their four sessions included: 

  • Small business and entrepreneurial resources to help vulnerable  communities thrive
  • Stepping Outside the Box  ‐ Exploring Alternative  Business Models and Technical Resources to Sustain Community‐Based Profit/Non‐Profit Entities
  • Your Business Needs the Internet  and  the Internet  Needs You
  • Federal Financial Resources ‐ What  Can Work for  Communities, Why and How

Key take‐aways included:

  • Be nimble, partner, engage, engage  and engage,  never  forget impacted communities, be careful about how we encourage diversity  of resource recipients, importance of understanding that community  are underserved by design, it is not  accidental but rather the result of public policy;
  • Community Benefits Agreements –  need to make sure that  community  members  are thoroughly versed in the process of creating and structuring these  agreements so that the benefits actually do derive to the people intended.
  • Utilize the internet, social  media, blogging and webinars to  promote your business and disseminate your ideas and expertise.
  • The solutions, resources  and energy  needed to revitalize  our  vulnerable communities is already present in  these very communities, we just have to tap into it  and bring it to  the surface.


Health and Environmental Resources


Jay  Benforado, U.S. EPA, shared that they were  maybe too ambitious in that they had eight  sessions with up to five speakers each. He  remarked that he  and his  track Co‐leads, Dr. Scheherazade  W. Forman  (Prince  George's Community College) and Dr. Adrienne  Hollis (WE ACT), covered a lot of  ground, including:  


  • Models of Community  Engagement ‐  about the innovative strategies communities are employing to reach far and wide to mobilize  community action and power,
  • The role of anchor institutions ‐ focused on the diverse programs, training  and resources offered by Prince George's Community College  to  build individual and community  capacity and identify diverse leaders,
  • Youth engagement and youth leadership – what innovative strategies young people are devising and utilizing to teach, motivate and  engage  their peers,
  • Communities are doing innovative  planning  for themselves with limited resources, and the need  for more  federal, state, local  and philanthropic support was a constant theme across many sessions,
  • Climate Change, Disaster  and Emergency Preparedness planning needs to  reflect the diverse needs of diverse populations. Including  land  use, transportation, public health and comprehensive evacuation, right‐to‐return  and redevelopment planning,
  • There is a need for two directional learning models and translation,
  • The power of networking


Charles Lee, Deputy Associate Administrator for Environmental Justice, EPA, shared the  Promise of EJ 2020  Video  and encouraged participants to look  ahead, think about communities  and extended an invitation  to make  sure that environmental justice is incorporated  into all  areas  of  government. All parts of  EPA took part in the  development of  the  EJ 2020 Action  Agenda  which is  a 50‐page plan that details specific commitments  to advance  environmental justice  at the programmatic, policy, enforcement, funding and goal setting level. Two big  goals are the elimination  of  elevated levels of childhood lead poisoning, and access to  safe, clean drinking water for all, among many other stated goals.  
Emily Fritze, Senior Director, White House Office of Cabinet Affairs  spoke about  developing equitable  climate change policy, meeting folks where they  are. She described the  White House  Clean  Energy Savings for All Americans plan. Which will work together with a broad range  of stakeholders,  including low  income, tribal and vulnerable communities to reduce pollution and increase productivity. She highlighted the need for innovative funding streams for low income communities  to be able to take advantage of green  energy development and to scale  up workforce development  and training  opportunities in the green energy  economy. 


Rep. Harold Mitchell, Executive Director, ReGenesis Community Development Corporation, South Carolina State Representative, District 3, encouraged participants to  put  the real issues on the table,  as  well as real strategies, and move  the  needle  forward. He called  for more ReGenesis communities. His group  came together to address contamination in  their community. Early on they decided who will be the  spokesperson  and what would be  their group's  name.  They started  with an EJ Small Grant  from  EPA, then secured a general support  grant from the Ford Foundation, they  then  were  able to receive  a  grant from the Department of  Energy  that supported  visioning  summits. The  Department of Housing and Urban Development contributed funding  for low and moderate income housing development. Now they have been able to build new housing, health  and  dental clinics, a Supermarket and small shopping center,  a  recreation  center,  and  a  new  Highway  by‐pass  to allow  safe  entry  and exit  from their community.  There is  even  a  LEED  certified golf course  atop  a closed landfill in the design  stage, and  a renewable  energy learning  center  in the  works. We need to  support more peer to peer  training to replicate their success  and move  this  needle  forward. We  need to see this kind of transformation happening in many more communities.   


Closing Statements and Next Steps

Provided by Holly Wilson, Dr. Marva King, Vernice Miller‐Travis  and  Mustafa Ali.  


Connections! Don’t forget that at  the  end of the day we’re all  connected. Everybody has a gift  to offer to this movement to revitalize vulnerable communities.  This summit  brought together industry, academia, grass roots, faith  groups, Labor, tribes, big greens, federal agencies and others. We don’t often see that kind of  coming  together. People not only volunteered  their  time  and  expertise, but came together and truly interacted with one another. As  we go forward remember to give  space to and have respect for the expertise and wisdom of local communities. We need to join  hands and continue to work together  because we all have a  vested interest in transforming vulnerable communities from  Surviving to Thriving.  By  2050,  there will be a 12 trillion‐dollar worldwide economy focused on  climate change. Folks of color, low‐income and tribal communities have got  to  be a part of that  emerging  green  economy. Change  the  paradigm.  Join the  Infinite Earth Podcast  to continue to learn about innovative work in  communities. Find partners who  will be authentic, such as the Vulnerable Communities Network. Our next step will be to continue this sharing of resources and network  building at the regional level. To that end both EPA Region 7 (Kansas City) and region 4 (Raleigh, NC) have agreed to hosts the  first  regional Summits to continue this work  to marshal resources to continue to  support the  revitalization of vulnerable  communities through partnerships and collaboration.


Mustafa  encouraged participants  to take advantage of  the  recommendations offered  at the end of this conference.  Those recommendations  will drive the shape of future conferences and also broader conversations within the agencies. You are drivers  in this process; your input, feedback and reflections helps us to go back and share  your recommendations more broadly.