Direct Support Funding Available for Environmental Justice Organizers

Usually, we notice and act on environmental issues close to home. Be it discolored water in our backyard creek or a petition to cut use of single-use plastics, any local action requires resources — mailer stamps, printing costs, chemical analyses, water filters, and more. Grassroots organizations and concerned residents often need to take the lead on gathering the funds to solve these issues, which can create serious barriers for advocacy.

To support organizers who are protecting their communities from the impacts of petrochemical and shale gas development in Appalachia, Mountain Watershed Association distributes small grants from the Direct Support Fund to those working on the ground. This provides a straightforward path for folks who have the most expertise on local problems to undertake a campaign, program, or analysis to improve their community. Now, for the first time, we are able to expand the fund to provide resources to organizers advocating around any environmental justice issue in the Appalachian region. 

This program – made possible by the Heinz Endowments, 11th Hour Project, Plastic Solutions Fund, and others – has operated since 2014 and grown substantially in scope throughout its lifetime. In 2021 alone, it has funded projects totaling over $70,000 in five states. These initiatives include increased air monitoring in rural areas, baseline water sampling by injection wells, and an expert analysis of a radiation protection plan to anticipate possible shortcomings in shale gas waste storage protocol. 

“Plastic is Forever” Billboard funded by Direct Support along I-77

Until recently, issue areas were limited to petrochemical buildout, shale gas extraction, and shale gas waste in the Appalachian region. Now, the Direct Support Fund has been awarded a new grant by the Cloud Mountain Foundation that allows the Direct Support Committee to provide resources to organizing efforts focused on any environmental justice issue in the region. This could include projects organizing their communities in response to coal mining operations, air pollution, lead contamination, climate change legislation, and more. 

Applying to the Direct Support Fund is simple and available both to grassroots organizations and individuals. Grants are considered by the Direct Support Committee on the third Friday of each month and must be received by the second Friday of that month. We prefer organizations who apply to have an annual budget of no more than $10,000 per year to ensure funds are going to groups that have the greatest need, and we prioritize applications $2,500 or less. Projects that are led by systemically under-represented and under-funded communities – such as Black, Indigenous, POC, rural, and low-income communities – are especially encouraged to apply.   

The application and FAQs can be found here.

Mountain Watershed Association is eager to support organizations throughout the application process to ensure that we can get your organizing efforts the resources you need. If you have questions about the application or know of any organizations or individuals that might be interested in the Direct Support Fund, please contact James Cato, Community Organizer, at or 412-405-1077 #10.