The Center for Health, Environment & Justice helps build healthy communities nationwide. Since its founding in 1981, CHEJ has grown into the nation’s leading resource for grassroots environmental activism, a ground-breaking, progressive organization with a vision for clean, green neighborhoods built from hard-won experience fighting for environmental justice.
CHEJ recently joined People’s Action Institute (PAI), as a project, adding power, programs, and resources to a movement of millions that captures the rising demand for change in our society. PAI was formed from the merger of four other powerful national organizations. We have our sights set on the future and the world we’re aiming to build. Here’s what we’re fighting for.
CHEJ was started by Lois Gibbs after she led the historic fight to relocate more than 800 of her neighbors away from toxic waste in the Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls, NY. For the past 35 years, we have trained and supported local activists across the country and been a part of and led national campaigns to improve our environment.
Like many of the grassroots leaders we work with, Lois began her journey into activism as a concerned mother in a disadvantaged neighborhood. She came to realize that the best way to solve local environmental injustices is from the bottom up: that the people directly impacted must speak for themselves and demand a role in decision-making processes that affect their lives. In founding CHEJ, she resolved to help other grassroots leaders build the power necessary to see their own concerns addressed.
We train local leaders in the rural, low-wealth or working-class neighborhoods that are dumping ground for toxins, air pollution, and other environmental degradation. We help them build confidence and power by providing them with the strategies, network, policy analysis and scientific perspective necessary to make their communities healthy and green.
The coalition of sophisticated environmental advocates that CHEJ has built is broad and deep, and we connect them to allies such as community organizations, elected officials, chamber of commerce members, labor unions, faith institutions and “Big Green” groups. At the same time, CHEJ has built a powerful and inclusive environmental justice movement by uniting community voices from communities nationwide around specific environmental health issues.
Through training, coalition building and one-on-one technical assistance and mentoring, CHEJ works to level the playing field so that people have a say in the environmental policies and decisions that affect their health and well-being. By building political pressure from the bottom up, we are making the world healthier and cleaner.