After completing the Leadership Training Academy, participants can receive ongoing mentoring from CHEJ’s staff of experienced organizers and environmental scientists. We provide advice, support and strategy to our members, a relationship that for some local organizations has been ongoing for years. For all the grassroots groups we coach, working with CHEJ is an opportunity to tap into expertise and experience that can help even the playing field against massive corporations and bureaucracies.
Take, for example, CHEJ’s work with a group fighting threats from a hazardous landfill and radioactive waste Superfund site near Bridgeton, Missouri outside of St. Louis, Just Moms STL, which we’ve been working with for several years. Lois Gibbs helped the all-volunteer group shape a recruitment program, create a tight campaign plan and sharpen their media messages.
To date, the group and its allies have drawn national media attention, enlisted the help of their entire congressional delegation, gathered 12,000 signatures urging Governor Jay Nixon’s office to declare a state of emergency, and were a major force behind a bill to transfer cleanup of the site from the EPA to the Army Corps of Engineers.
“Lois and CHEJ have been there for us through thick and thin,” says Just Moms STL leader Dawn Chapman. “Lois tells me we are one of the best all-volunteer environmental justice groups in the country. If we are, it is because the training and resources that our partner CHEJ has given us. And sometimes, just having a mentor who knows how to listen can really help.”
CHEJ also works with member groups that are interested in joining larger campaigns to change laws and policies that create health problems and environmental degredation in all our communities. We have built a nationwide network of 300 groups in all 50 states that have achieved critical policy impacts at the local, regional, statewide and national levels. CHEJ is now seeking to dramatically increase the number of trained leaders and grassroots organizations in our network and connect our leaders to the broader global conversation about climate change and inclusive capitalism.