Wyandanch's Starflower Experiences and the Long Beach Latino Civic Association are among 34 groups statewide to receive grants to fund local environmental study projects.
Starflower Experiences will use its $24,800 Community Impact Grant for Environmental Justice to dispatch middle-schoolers into the area to teach residents what they've learned about environmental issues, such as how to identify asthma triggers, said the group's executive director, Laurie Farber.
"We're going to take it to the next step and really reach out into the community," she said, adding that the organization will ask up to 20 students who have been a part of the Earth Rangers program in the past to serve as educators. "This is going to be really amazing."
In Nassau, high school students will be asked to participate in a post-superstorm Sandy analysis of the soil, water and air of Long Beach, said Elizabeth Connolly Gonzalez, executive director of the Long Beach Latino Civic Association.
The group is concerned about the effect of what Gonzalez called a "nasty toxic soup" that formed when the waters flooded basements, living rooms and lawns, mixing together oil, gasoline, paint and other toxins.
"It was a toxic mess that was floating around Long Beach," she said, adding the $49,840 grant will launch a program to assess the integrity of the soil. "All of those things combined. We don't even know what's in our ground right now."
The state Department of Environmental Conservation grants are part of $1 million to be distributed statewide to groups in communities that state officials said face "multiple sources of environmental harms and risks."
The funds are to be used for taking inventory of polluting facilities, air monitoring, urban tree-planting, community gardens and alternative energy projects, officials said.
"The Environmental Justice Community Impact Grants are an important resource to low-income and disadvantaged communities facing pollution and other environmental burdens across the state," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement.