MENLO PARK, Calif. – California has some of the worst air pollution in the country, with the Central Valley and Los Angeles regions being the most polluted in the state, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Hardest hit are children in minority communities, who suffer from asthma rates that are more than double the national average.

To begin to address these extremely serious problems, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has awarded more than $1.5 million in grants to over 20 organizations in the Central Valley and Los Angeles as part of its “New Constituencies for the Environment” initiative. The grants will help local groups hire staff, strengthen community outreach, enhance their relationships with key decisionmakers, work with air quality officials, conduct needed research, and collaborate with each other more effectively both regionally and at the state level around air quality issues.

“Air pollution is a tremendous threat to our children’s health,” said State Senator Dean Florez (D-Shafter), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Air Quality. “More than 5,000 Central Valley kids end up in emergency rooms with asthma attacks each year.”

“We must do more to protect our children’s health and combat our alarming rates of asthma,” said State Senator Martha Escutia (D-Norwalk). “The Hewlett Foundation’s grant program will strengthen community and conservation groups’ abilities to find solutions to our air quality problems so our children will have a healthier future.”

“California’s fast-growing regions and populations deserve a strong voice on environmental issues,” said Hal Harvey, Director of the Hewlett Foundation’s Environment Program. “This set of grants is designed to help the organizations that are fighting for clean air to get the resources they need to properly represent their communities.”

Among the organizations receiving funding for work in the Central Valley are Latino Issues Forum ($100,000), Fresno Metro Ministries ($83,000), Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment ($75,000), Relational Culture Institute ($95,000), and California Communities Against Toxics ($35,000).

In Los Angeles, organizations receiving funding include the California Environmental Rights Alliance ($84,890), Physicians for Social Responsibility($60,000), Liberty Hill Foundation ($70,000), Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice ($85,000), and the California Council of Churches ($91,035).

About the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1966 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, environment, global development, performing arts, philanthropy, population, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. A full list of all the Hewlett Foundation’s grants can be found at