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Jaden Smith just expanded his mission to deliver clean water to disenfranchised communities

Unsafe drinking water is a problem much bigger than you think.

Jaden Smith just expanded his mission to deliver clean water to disenfranchised communities
[Photo: courtesy of 501CThree]

Jaden Smith’s mission to bring clean water to disenfranchised communities is expanding beyond Flint, Michigan, to Newark, New Jersey.

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Last year, through his nonprofit 501CThree, Smith and cofounder Drew FitzGerald introduced the Water Box, a mobile water filtration system that’s able to process 10 gallons of water per minute. 501CThree centralized its focus on Flint, where a severe water contamination crisis was exposed in 2014. To date, four Water Boxes have been deployed across the city, providing more than 38,000 gallons of clean water.

And now the organization’s first Water Box outside of Flint has landed in Newark.

[Photo: courtesy of 501CThree]
Working with the Newark Water Coalition, the Water Box was actually delivered in August but was only recently announced publicly after volunteer training and COVID-19 protocols were met. Since arriving in Newark, the Newark Water Coalition has used the Water Box to distribute 450 gallons of water to the community, which is the equivalent of 3,600 single-use 16 oz. water bottles.

It’s commendable progress that’s slowly chipping away at a problem that’s bigger than what’s happening just in Flint or Newark.

Jaden Smith [Photo: courtesy of 501CThree]
According to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council that analyzed data from Environmental Protection Agency between 2016 and 2019, nearly 130 million people in the U.S. got their drinking water from systems that violated the Safe Drinking Water Act. And those violations were 40% more likely to occur in places where there’s a higher percentage of people of color. Also, small systems—those that serve less than 3,300 people and, according to the EPA, are typically “low-income and vulnerable populations”—were responsible for more than 80% of all violations.

“Point, blank, period: This is environmental racism,” says Anthony Diaz, cofounder of the Newark Water Coalition, in a short video about Newark’s Water Box. “Why is this disproportionately affecting people of color? It’s because people can get away with it here. People can sweep problems under the rug. And that’s where folks like us come in and we’re trying to fight this.”

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And at least the fight is getting some calvary.

Find out more about 501CThree and Water Box here.

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About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America," where he was the social media producer.

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