About the Initiative

In 2021, President Biden established the Justice40 Initiative to advance environmental justice and spur economic opportunity for disadvantaged communities. Justice40 is a whole-of-government effort to ensure that Federal agencies work with states and local communities to make good on President Biden’s promise to deliver at least 40 percent of the overall benefits from Federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities. 

History has shown that too often projects intended to benefit our communities never reach us. Thus, the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, along with our partner the Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University, launched a Justice40 Community Engagement Project to build the capacity of communities through education and training to participate in the “just” implementation of Justice40.

We designed this project using the collaborative insight of hard-learned lessons from our decades-long history of research, education and community engagement work to document, address and bring change through our struggle for Environmental Justice.

As we sunset the Justice40 program, we are energized by the impact organizations are telling us it had on their capacity to pursue federal grants to advance their community priorities.

Our Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Center (TCTAC) draws on our Justice40 program and decades of community capacity-building knowledge through our Communiversity Model.

Learn more about DSCEJ CIRC.

We are thrilled to highlight organizations meeting this moment, and accelerating meaningful and long-overdue investments in EJ communities!

Implementation Timeline

April 2022

Justice40 Implementation Announcement and Eighth Annual HBCU Climate Change Conference

On April 14, 2022, Dr. Beverly Wright of the Deep South for Environmental Justice joined Peggy Shepard of WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Dr. Robert Bullard of the Robert D. Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice to announce plans to support equitable implementation of Justice40 at the state and local level and empower local communities to participate in the policy-making process . . .

August 2022

First Convening to discuss Justice40 Project in ACTION

August 22 – 23, 2022 
NOPSI HOTEL, New Orleans, Louisiana

Together with our partner organizations WE ACT for Environmental Justice and The Bullard Center for Environmental Justice at Texas Southern University, we welcomed over 100 participants from 21 states, throughout the U.S., representing over 30 community-based organizations and supporting organizations.

January 2023

​​​​​​​Hub Leaders Chosen

  • Susanna Almanza of People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources (PODER) in Austin, TX;
  • Rev. Calvin Avant of Unity in the Family Ministry (UFM) in Pensacola, FL;
  • William Barber, III of Rural Beacon Initiative, LLC of Durham, North Carolina;
  • Rev. James Caldwell of Coalition of Community Organizations (COCO) in Houston, TX;
  • Katherine Egland of Education, Economics, Environmental, Climate and Health Organization (EEECHO) in Gulfport, MS;
  • Rashida Ferdinand of Sankofa in New Orleans, LA;
  • Dawn Hebert of the East New Orleans Neighborhood Advisory Commission in New Orleans, LA; 
  • Dr. Nataki Jelks of West Atlanta Watershed Association (WAWA) in Atlanta, GA;
  • Darren Leach of Genesis Church in Columbus, MS;
  • Paulina Lopez of Duwamish River Community Coalition (DRCC) in Seattle, WA;
  • Carolyn Moseley of Eastwick United CDC in Philadelphia, PA;
  • Bridgette Murray of Achieving Community Tasks Successfully (ACTS) in Houston, TX;
  • ​​Għanja O’Flaherty of North Carolina Environmental Justice Network in Rocky Mount, NC;
  • Juan Parras of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS) in Houston, TX;
  • Robert Taylor of Concerned Citizens of St. John (CCSJ) in St. John the Baptist Parish, LA;
  • Angel Torres of Organization for Human Rights and Democracy (OHRD) in Atlanta, GA; 
  • Darilyn Turner of Zion Travelers’ Cooperative Center in New Orleans, LA;
  • Debra Walker of Sunnyside Community Redevelopment Organization (SCRO) in Houston, TX;
  • Donele Wilkins of Detroit Green Door Initiative in Detroit, MI;
  • Huey Wilson of Northeast Houston Redevelopment Council (NEHRC) in Houston, Texas; and
  • Joe Womack of Clean, Healthy, Educated, Safe & Sustainable Community (CHESS) in Mobile, AL.

February 2023

Convening of Justice40 Hub Leaders and Community Based Organization Representatives

February 22 – 25, 2023
NOPSI HOTEL, New Orleans, Louisiana

The first 2-day Communiversity training for Regional Hub Leaders took place on February 22 – 24, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana at the NOPSI Hotel. The convening helped to bolster the capacity of community-based organizations to secure funding for environmental justice projects in their communities. The Communiversity model helps to create a collaborative learning environment that brings together academic researchers, community-based organizations, and residents to address environmental issues in a holistic and equitable way.

March 2023

Convening of Justice40 Hub Leaders and Community-Based Organization Representatives

March 20 – 22, 2023
Texas Southern University – Houston, TX

During this session, J40 Hub Leaders learned how to use multiple screening tools including the highly anticipated HBCU Climate and Environmental Justice Screening Tool (HCEJST). 

The HCEJST was developed to supplement the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) that excluded  race as an indicator—despite race being the most potent predictor of environmental and climate vulnerability and despite feedback from Drs. Bullard, Wright and other members of the WHEJAC. Community leaders will be taught to use several tools to properly understand environmental and climate justice data in their communities and assess the efficacy of screening tools to accurately identify “disadvantaged” community designation for Justice40 funding.

August 2023

Final Convening of Justice40 Hub Leaders and Community-Based Organization Representatives

August 16-19, 2023
JW Marriottt
​​​​​​​New Orleans, LA 70130

For our Justice40 August Convening, we assembled a gathering of activists, community leaders, and policymakers committed to advancing environmental justice and equity.

Our speakers and panelists discussed strategies for achieving the goals of the Justice40 Initiative, which seeks to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities. We’ll also explore ways to address environmental racism, promote renewable energy, and build resilient communities.
We welcomed 240 Hub Leaders, Hub Members, Staff, Speakers, and Presenters, 80 Community-Based Organizations, and 7 Federal Agencies representing 18 U.S. states.