Looking for ways to fund citizen science research? Check out the Citizen Science Funding Resource Guide!
Jessica Clemente, an environmental science graduate thought she would be doing work outside of her community once she got her degree. But she is an asthmatic, and when she found out there was an asthma study taking place in the area of her home in South Bronx she became involved and eventually took the lead. “Living day-to-day in an area where all I saw was high traffic volumes, poor air quality and adding more waste to our community got me enraged,” she says in an EPA video interview. Her anger prompted action, and she looked at the tools to empower herself and her community—education and advocacy.
In many cases, there is a connection between socioeconomic status and air quality. Some call it environmental justice—why should a factory spew tons of filth into the same air that a poor, young family across the road breathes? Amanda Kaufman, the Environmental Health Fellow in the Air Climate and Energy Program Office at the EPA says, “We are currently working with a community in Newark, New Jersey that has faced environmental justice issues in the past and still faces many to this day. We hope to collaborate with the community action group to establish a community-led air monitoring project.”
The EPA has several tools to assist environmental justice communities, including the EJView mapping tool and the Community-Focused Exposure and Risk Screening Tool (C-FERST). The Air Sensor Toolbox for Citizen Scientists is also a valuable resource for environmental justice communities, as well as any other community interested in monitoring their air quality, but most recently Kaufman compiled a list of organizations, specific grants and other funding opportunities within organizations that will fund citizen science monitoring projects.
Kaufman says, “The Citizen Science Funding Resource Guide is a compilation of all the funding opportunities I discovered while searching the Internet for funding for citizen science and/or community-based research projects.” The guide is not EPA-specific and some of the funding sources are specifically focused on air quality or air sensors because that is the focus of EPA’s new resource tool, the Air Sensor Toolbox for Citizen Scientists.
Kaufman isn’t involved in any of the funding processes so she doesn’t know how easy or difficult it is to get funding. Each funding opportunity is different and will probably need different types of information, depending on the specific requirements of the funding grantor. But what energizes her is that there are so many opportunities available through the Air Sensor Toolbox for Citizen Scientists and the Citizen Science Funding Resource Guide. “Most importantly, I am excited that individuals and communities will now be able to access this extensive list of funding opportunities all located in one easy to navigate database. Often, citizens are unaware of funding opportunities or unsure of how to obtain money to do projects, and this resource guide will assist them in bringing their projects to fruition.”
Ian Vorster has a MS in Environmental Communications and most recently served as director of communications at the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts. Prior to that he worked in the health communications field. Ian has served as a designer, writer, photographer, editor and project leader in the field of science, and now works freelance in a blend of these roles. You can see more of Ian’s work at dragonflyec.com.