The University of Arizona is receiving a $10 million grant for a new environmental justice center. The center will be called the Western Environmental Science Technical Assistance Center for Environmental Justice, or the WEST EJ Center. The funding that comes from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will last for five years.

“The EPAs promise of clean air, land and water has not reached many historically marginalized communities due to a complex interaction of physical, social and economic factors,” shared the UArizona Health Sciences in a statement.

With this grant, the goal is to overcome these barriers using the expertise and longstanding relationships of the UArizona Health Sciences. Led by principal investigator Paloma Beamer, the center will help underserved communities access the funds from President Joe Biden’s Investing In America agenda.

In total, 17 of these centers were selected as part of the program launched by the EPA and the US Department of Energy. Beamer’s team will collaborate with community organizations to support and implement environmental and energy justice projects. This will cover EPA Region 9, which includes Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the US Pacific Islands. Paola Beamer said in a statement:

“Our three-thrust strategy builds on the environmental justice experience we have within our core team and the expertise that we have in the College of Public Health and around the university, Dr. Beamer said. In everything we do, we use a community-engaged approach so that the people who live and work in a particular area implement the projects and become local advocates and educators for the environmental justice work.”