Port Awards $4.7 million to Schools, Youth Centers

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money-stacks POLB GrantsGrants for air quality-improvement projects announced

Port of Long Beach officials kicked off the first round of a new community grants program Monday with approval of $4.7 million for 73 projects designed to improve air quality for Long Beach children.

The program helps schools, day-care centers and other youth facilities to install air-filtration systems and additional improvements that can control pollutants. The grant recipients include Long Beach Unified School District campuses, private schools, preschools, and community youth centers.

The largest single grant, nearly $546,000, will purchase an air-filtration system for Long Beach Polytechnic High School.

The 73 grants were given initial approval Monday by a Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners committee. Individual grant contracts will come back to the full board later for consideration.

“These grants will go a long way in speeding air-quality improvements to children and schools,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Nick Sramek. “We’re looking forward to rolling out additional grant programs, for health-care and senior sites and then greenhouse-gas reduction.”

The Port Mitigation Grant Programs were created in 2009 to offset the cumulative effects of air pollution from Port operations and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The first round of grants, which started with $5 million in available funds, focused on schools and related sites.

The Port received 74 applications for grants. All but one was recommended to receive funding. The applications were reviewed by Port staff and an advisory committee comprised of community members appointed by the Long Beach mayor and representatives from industry and regulatory agencies.

The grants range from $2,233 for a door replacement at the John C. Wallace/Petrolane Boys and Girls Club at Martin Luther King Jr. Park to the biggest grant, $545,899 for an air-filtration system for Long Beach Poly High School classrooms, benefiting more than 3,000 students a year. Grants included air filter replacements, door and window replacements, and landscaping work at schools, preschools, day-care sites, and other facilities that serve children. The recipients are located across the western half of Long Beach, in the neighborhoods closest to the Port. In total, more than 33,000 children will benefit from the grants.

The three-pronged Port Mitigation Grant Programs started with funds of $5 million each for the schools, health-care and greenhouse gas programs. The Board of Harbor Commissioners approved the funding as part of the Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project. Recently, another $1 million each for the schools and health-care programs and $400,000 for greenhouse gases was added with approval of the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project.

Comprehensive studies have shown that the Port of Long Beach is steadily reducing diesel particulates and other emissions from cargo operations thanks to cleaner trucks, trains, ships and other machinery. For new development projects, the Port includes an array of technology and efficiencies in order to reduce air pollution. For example, the Middle Harbor project will cut emissions in half, even as cargo capacity is doubled. Meanwhile, the grant programs were established to address cumulative effects of all the goods movement activity that results from the Port’s presence. The grant programs focus community efforts on the young and the elderly, as they are most sensitive to the health effects of air pollution.

The nearly $300,000 in funds left over from the first round of school grants will be put together with the new funds from the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project for a second round of schools and related sites grants in the future.

Later this year, the Port expects to announce the opening of the application period for the health-care and senior centers program.

For a full list of recipients, click here. For more information on the Port Mitigation Grant Programs, go to the Port of Long Beach website or contact the grant programs via grants@polb.com or 1-888-789-GRANT.

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