US EPA - Environmental Protection Agency

Atlanta Conference Highlights How College Students are Helping Underserved Communities Address Environmental Problems


ATLANTA -- Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4 office in Atlanta, Ga., hosted a day-long conference about the College/Underserved Community Partnership Program (CUPP) at the Sam Nunn Federal Center. EPA’s Senior Advisor to the Administrator for Environmental Justice, Mustafa Ali, provided opening remarks. Through CUPP, college and university students provide technical support to underserved communities at no cost to them.

Over the last couple of years, EPA Region 4 has developed partnerships with nine colleges and 16 communities through CUPP. The conference was designed to highlight how college students are helping communities address important issues that will improve their economic future and the environmental health. At the same time, these efforts are providing practical experience for students in their areas of academic study.

The conference included presentations by EPA, other federal agencies and college professors on topics such as environmental justice initiatives, the impact of climate change in underserved communities and health disparities in poor communities. There were also presentations by students on projects they have worked on as part of CUPP. Christina Emmanuel from Atlanta Metropolitan College discussed an analysis of water plant operations, while students from Tuskegee University presented their work to develop an alternate transportation plan for the Voting Rights Act Trail.

To conclude the conference, a panel discussion was held with community leaders about how the program has supported them. Participants included Mayor Deborah Jackson, City of Lithonia, Ga.; Frederick Gardiner, City Manager for the City of East Point, Ga.; Harold Powell, City of Shorter, Ala.; and Mayor Perry Keenan, City of Pleasant View, Tenn.

EPA expects to add two new colleges to join CUPP this fall. For more information about joining this voluntary program, please contact Michael Burns at or 404-562-8228.

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