The CEC has been in partnership with WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Inc. (WE ACT) since 1996. We have collaborated on community-engaged research and outreach programs and share a commitment to using science and educational outreach to improve health. Founded in 1988, WE ACT was New York’s first environmental justice organization created to improve environmental health and quality of life in communities of color. With a staff of 17 experts in environmental issues and community engagement, and support from private and government funding, WE ACT has developed extensive partnerships with Northern Manhattan community organizations, and with environmental groups, regulatory agencies, and elected officials at the local, state, and national levels. In our partnership model, WE ACT is responsible for a significant portion of CEC activities. Approximately 60% of the CEC budget is allocated to support our joint activities, which include, planning programs and executing community outreach and engagement activities. For CEHNM, partnering with a strong organization like WE ACT has facilitated connections with a complex community in Northern Manhattan that we could not easily reach otherwise. The partnership with WE ACT allows us to more effectively learn about community environmental concerns and to disseminate CEHNM findings for community benefit. For WE ACT, partnering with the CEHNM provides a resource to support education and advocacy, and increases their access to scientific and government communities. Along with WE ACT co-founder Peggy Shepard, staff members Lubna Ahmed and Milagros de Hoz are also directly involved in CEHNM activities.
We have broadened our community engagement by establishing collaborations with two new community partners, South Bronx Unite and Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Services, Inc.Mychal Johnson is a founding leader of South Bronx Unite, a coalition of more than 50 environmental and community groups, as well as South Bronx residents and allies working together to protect and improve the social, environmental, and economic future of the South Bronx. They formed in response to the proposed relocation of a “Fresh Direct” online food distribution facility from Long Island City, Queens, to the Harlem River Yard in the South Bronx and have since advocated for improvements in planning and zoning and addressing pertinent social and environmental risks in the area. Ray E. López, MA, Director of the Little Sisters Environmental Health Program, works with East Harlem residents to combat poor air quality, insect infestation, and mold. He oversees the agency’s asthma program, educates families about how to control asthma triggers in their homes, and collaborates with Center member, Dr. Matt Perzanowski and Dr. Linda Weiss at the NY Academy of Medicine on a project studying mold in public housing.