US EPA and Other Federal Agencies Connection

EPA's Community Assessment Planning Tool

The EPA's CAPT is intended to help communities articulate their needs, priorities, and vision for their revitalization and stewardship efforts!

Community Assessment and Planning Tool-Draft 3-1-21.docx

Our U.S. Environmental Protection Agency & Other Federal Agencies Connection

In April 2018, Franciscans in Shamokin, PA and the Franciscan Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Ministry invited the US EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights (OEJECR), previously the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ), to partner with the Franciscans and other faith leaders (Shamokin Area Ministerium) and community organizations to address the environmental and public health, as well as the other quality of life needs in Shamokin. US EPA utilized their Community Support Services (CSS) to assist Shamokin in their revitalization efforts. Through engagement in 2018-2020, the first Shamokin Community Rebuilding  Workshop was conducted, and plans were created to revitalize the City.  EPA’s involvement, led by OEJECR, was reduced due to COVID, however, plans continued, and some assistance was still able to be provided virtually

In 2022, EPA’s technical assistance work was once again able to include in-person support, which expanded the opportunity to further assist the community.  The Agency’s CSS was extended beyond the planned two-year community engagement and support commitment, due to COVID.  US EPA staff from OEJECR, in partnership with the Faith Alliance for Revitalization (FAR), and a newly formed Steering Committee, began planning a “Reconvening” Shamokin Community Rebuilding Workshop to further the community revitalization efforts. In February 2023, the Reconvening Workshop was held to reengage the community and their partners to further the community’s efforts to rebuild, enhance growth, and improve the quality of life for all residents in the City and surrounding communities.


As an outgrowth of the Workshop, a new Shamokin Community Rebuilding Action Plan is being developed, that is intended to provide the community with a framework for continued rebuilding and revitalization of the community, through the planning and implementation of community goals and activities for the further growth of Shamokin.  EPA utilized the six elements of its community support and engagement (see below).  As the EPA prepares to conclude its CSS for Shamokin, attention is being focused on the 6th element of CSS, to Sustain Revitalization Progress & Maintain Collaborative Partnerships.

Through EPA’s community support for sustainability efforts, EPA provided outreach and information on available opportunities for the community to achieve a sustained revitalization effort and progress. These opportunities included:

·       Technical Assistance / Facilitated Engagement/Community Action Plan Development Assistance

·       Government Resources Available

o   Interagency Working Group on Coal & Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization

o   EPA’s Environmental Justice (EJ) Grant Programs, such as:

§  EJ Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program (EJCPS) – will award approximately $30 million in funding for projects to address local environmental and public health issues within an affected community.

§  EJ Government-to-Government Program (EJG2G) – will award approximately $20 million in funding to governmental entities at the state, local, territorial and tribal level to support and/or create model government activities that lead to measurable environmental or public health results in communities disproportionately burdened by environmental harms and risks.

EPA Staff from OEJECR is assisting FAR and the community with their efforts to develop the framework necessary for sustained engagement in their community revitalization efforts 

Historical Context of FAR and US EPA Engagement

Community Support Services/USEPA Office of Environmental Justice

In 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) initiated its Community Support Services (CSS) to supplement ongoing efforts to revitalize underserved and vulnerable communities. Revitalizing communities not only helps to protect the environment and public health but provides communities the space to create healthy places in which to live, work, learn, and play. Grassroots voices and community leaders are the drivers of the CSS. The goal of CSS is to support communities’ efforts to improve their health, local environment, and quality of life. To assist community partners, CSS has six steps, each with the intention of meeting the community where they are and with what they need. The steps (not necessarily in order) are as follows:

1. Assess Community Needs 

2. Identify Options and Priorities 

3. Implement the Plan

4. Evaluate Progress 

5. Adapt to Changes

6. Sustain Revitalization Progress & Maintain Collaborative Partnerships

The City of Shamokin, PA was selected as a “pilot” for the EPA’s CSS in June 2018.

Interagency Interfaith Collaboration with Vulnerable Communities (IIC)

The Interagency Interfaith Collaboration for Vulnerable Communities (IIC) formed in 2018 to enhance federal collaboration with faith-based leaders and organizations to better address the needs of vulnerable and underserved communities. The IIC recognizes that faith leaders and faith-based organizations play an important, and at times key, role in efforts to address the needs of the vulnerable communities and revitalize communities.

The ICC is operating under the authority of two presidential executive orders: Faith and Opportunity Initiative (FOI) – May 2018 & Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations (EO 12898) – February 1994. The FOI, among other things welcomes opportunities for government to partner with faith-based organizations through innovative, measurable, and outcome-driven initiatives; encourages the showcasing of innovative initiatives by faith-based and community organizations that serve and strengthen individuals, families, and communities throughout the United States. EO 12898, among other things, directs federal agencies to identify and address the disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their actions on minority, low-income and tribal/indigenous populations. Federal agencies participating in the IIC include:

Department of Agriculture 

Department of Labor

Department of Interior 

Department of Justice

Department of Homeland Security 

Environmental Protection Agency

General Services Administration

Shamokin was chosen, in March 2019, as a “pilot” project of the IIC upon the invitation of the Franciscans in Shamokin to participate in, and showcase, the innovative developing collaborative partnership for the revitalization of the community.