Indiana sunrise with silhouettes of wind turbines
July 14, 2008 Benton County Wind Farm. Photos by Tom Campbell.

Purdue Extension—in partnership with the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD), Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD)—have been selected to support a multi-state effort to help rural, tribal and underserved communities access federal funding for energy and environmental improvement efforts.

The University of Minnesota will lead the effort as an Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Center with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5. The Purdue Extension Community Development program will provide central support in Indiana to help communities navigate federal grant application systems, identify partners and matching funds, and assist with project design and development.

“Purdue Extension is positioned well to connect with rural and underserved communities across Indiana with staff in all 92 counties,” said Kara Salazar, assistant program leader for Purdue Extension Community Development and sustainable communities extension specialist with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. “We look forward to working with regional partners as a liaison for communities in need of resources to assist with clean energy and water, affordable and sustainable housing, and addressing legacy pollution.”

Michael Wilcox, associate director of NCRCRD and assistant director and program leader of Purdue Extension Community Development, welcomes interested community partners to reach out to get involved. 

“We look forward to connecting with communities across the state while collaborating with our partners across the EPA Region 5. This is another excellent example of states within the north central region working together as partners to address pressing issues while fostering community resilience,” he added.

“Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is enthusiastic to build on our ongoing programs as we partner on this broad project to help support underserved coastal communities around southern Lake Michigan and throughout the Great Lakes in addressing environmental challenges,” said Tomas Höök, director of Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and professor in Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.

PCRD will provide support for engagement and data needs throughout the project for local leaders and funding partners.

“The funds will provide resources to engage in capacity building for rural and tribal marginalized and underserved communities as they participate in a clean energy economy and work on advancing environmental justice goals,” said Indraneel Kumar, principal regional planner for PCRD.

Support and outreach will begin in July 2023 and continue for five years. The regional center is a part the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of climate, clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, clean water and other investments to disadvantaged communities.

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a partnership between NOAA, University of Illinois Extension, and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources, bringing science together with communities for solutions that work. Sea Grant is a network of 34 science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam.


Contact: Kara Salazar

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