RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Tuesday morning, researchers from RTI International met at North Carolina Central University to introduce a new tool they have to help underserved communities impacted by environmental issues.

RTI was awarded $10 million earlier this year from the Biden Administration, and now they’re celebrating officially kicking things off. They’re opening that center, where researchers from RTI will work with outside groups to gather data, offer resources, and lend a listening ear to communities dealing with things including poor air quality, access to clean water, pollution, and other environmental worries.

While RTI will coordinate the efforts, they’re working with eight universities across eight states, including North Carolina Central University, and they say it’s those partners that will help their work stretch thousands of miles.

“We rely on our university partners to be doing the really great work of providing boots on the grounds and interacting with communities, it’s really hard for us here in NC to understand all of the intricacies and connections for a problem in Mississippi and Alabama, but our partners in those locations will have a much better feel for that,” James Harrington, with RTI, said.

RTI will provide training and assistance for navigating federal grant application systems, writing strong grant proposals and effectively managing grant funding. In addition, they will provide guidance on community engagement, meeting facilitation and translation services for limited English-speaking participants, thus removing barriers and improving accessibility for communities with environmental justice concerns.