EPA Grant


October 30, 2017

Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light has been awarded a $30,000 Environmental Justice Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for a Sustainable Self-Sufficiency Community Model (a.k.a. Going Deep Green in the Neighborhood).

A news conference will be held Wednesday, November 15, at 9 a.m. at the Promise Garden Park, 4317 W. 12th St.

Ark. IPL is the first non-profit organization in Arkansas since the year 2000 to receive an Environmental Justice small grant from the EPA.

The intention of Ark. IPL is to 1) increase the abilities of individuals and families to move from consumers to producers of food and energy; and 2) introduce concepts that lead to conservation of resources and away from a throw-away culture.

For the past six years, Ark. IPL has worked with the Team of Neighbors That Love in the 12th St. Corridor in the Promise Garden – a community garden with vegetable plots and a chicken coop. For the past year, Ark. IPL has served as a partner with Stephens Elementary School, where students in grades 3-5 participate in a Guardians of the Planet club with the purpose of connecting children with the natural world.

Under the provisions of the grant, Ark. IPL will expand its community efforts to include a garden at Mabelvale Middle School and Oak Forest Community Garden. Students at Stephens Elementary School will participate in learning activities at the Stephens Neighborhood Association Garden across the street from the school.

Additionally, Ark. IPL will work with Stephens Elementary parents and staff, as well as residents in the 12th St. Corridor, to reduce their utility bills through tracking energy consumption with the EPA’s Portfolio Manager System. All who participate will receive an energy-efficient LED bulb, a booklet on energy efficiency from the Ark. Department of Environmental Quality, and continuing support for reducing energy consumption through energy efficiency.

Also, new efforts will include a network of local growers, organized through a Community Center for Self-Sufficiency and Sustainability, which will serve as a food hub at 4317 W. 12th St. Excess fresh produce will be shared with food pantries at the 12th Street Health and Wellness Clinic, Stephens Elementary School, Grace Presbyterian Church, and other food pantries as excess produce is available.

Benjamin Harrison with Sprout Urban Farms will share a weekly blog on local food topics through Ark. IPL’s website at www.arkansasipl.com.

The next Community Garden Day at the Promise Garden is Saturday, November 18, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., led by Jimmy Parks, garden trainer. A training session from 8:30 to 9:30 will help neighbors learn home gardening skills so that they may be equipped to start backyard gardens. From 9:30 to 11:30, neighbors will work in the community garden; they will take home fresh eggs and produce.

Also on Saturday, November 18, a 1 p.m. session on practical composting will be led by Benjamin Harrison with Sprout Urban Farm.

A building next to the Promise Garden owned by the Greater Christ Temple Pentecostal Church at 1200 Bishop Warren Drive will serve as a Community Center for garden training and energy efficiency assistance. Fund raising efforts, such as Chicken Bingo Days (no chickens will be harmed), over the next year will support maintenance and improvements at the Community Center.

In recent years, the Promise Garden has been supported by the Arkansas Community Foundation, Second Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, the Unitarian Universalist Church in Little Rock, other houses of worship and individuals. Matching funds from Interfaith Power & Light at the national level support the Promise Garden and other Ark. IPL efforts related to reducing carbon emissions and improving community health.

Early in the grant application process, the 12th St. Corridor and the Stephens School area were identified as high risk areas for particulate matter concentration, ozone pollution, air toxic pollution, traffic pollution, lead paint exposure, hazardous waste proximity, and other factors related to environmental degradation and community health.

Ark. IPL applied in January, 2017 and was notified in July, 2017 that Ark. IPL was a finalist for the EPA grant.

Ark. IPL was established in 2007 and operates today as a Mission and Service Team of Interfaith Arkansas. Rev. Steve Copley is executive director of Interfaith Arkansas. Scharmel Roussel is the team leader of the Mission and Service Team and director of Ark. IPL.

Ark. IPL intends to work with children, families, and individuals in low-income communities to:
1) use and observe the use of alternative energy resources where available and practical; 2) understand the carbon emissions avoided through energy efficiency improvements, alternative energy sources, reduced energy consumption; 3) learn self-sufficient sustainable methods for providing energy and food for themselves, their families, and their neighbors; 4) understand the nutritional value and avoided carbon emissions through local, fresh, organic foods; 5) maintain organic community / school gardens; 6) start their own backyard gardens; 7) grow their own food; 8) care for chickens in coops and bees in hives; 9) collect eggs from chickens.