Community Collaborative Initiative (CCI)


“Building a stronger, fairer New Jersey economy requires taking an innovative approach to community revitalization that acknowledges economic prosperity and environmental sustainability are not competing goals but mutually reinforcing ideals. CCI has already made significant progress toward achieving both of these goals by working with local leaders to protect the environment and transform dangerous eyesores into valued community assets.” –Governor Phil Murphy

 

Program Overview

Mission & Vision Statement
The Community Collaborative Initiative (CCI) is a place-based partnership that promotes quality of life in New Jersey’s distressed communities. CCI aligns interests that support environmental and community revitalization, equitable economic development, and enhanced public health outcomes. CCI strives to continually evolve the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s role as a regulator by engaging the community as a partner. Through this effort, CCI hopes to better realize the Department’s mission by bringing positive change to overburdened communities and being a leader in transformative government.

Salvation Army Kroc Center, Camden
Salvation Army Kroc Center, Camden

Background
The Community Collaborative Initiative (CCI) is a groundbreaking effort between the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the NJ Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). CCI is committed to working more closely with local communities on our mutual interests of environmental quality, economic development, and community revitalization. CCI started as a place-based, grass roots partnership in Camden through the community stakeholder process implemented by the NJDEP Office of Brownfield Reuse’s (OBR) Brownfield Development Area (BDA) program. OBR was instrumental in leveraging resources to help transform brownfield sites and support broader community revitalization by collaborating with a diverse set of partners and empowering residents to engage on environmental issues in their community. NJDEP’s cross program expertise – facilitated by one dedicated NJDEP point-of-contact – united stakeholders to realize successes in Camden, including: forming Camden SMART, a groundbreaking initiative that became the model for cross-sector partnerships nationwide; enabling a world-class community center to be built on a former landfill; and amplifying neighborhood voices to drive change.

Food Cooperative, Salem City
Food Cooperative, Salem City

The Camden Collaborative Initiative was formally launched in 2013 to expand OBR’s role to partner with the City of Camden, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, Camden County (led by the Municipal Utilities Authority), and the US Environmental Protection Agency. With its expanded role and its close working relationship with local partners, the Office of Brownfield Reuse helped direct NJDEP cross-program resources and better leverage assets to address complex environmental issues, while also supporting local community revitalization and economic development interests. The Camden Collaborative Initiative’s place-based partnership model to assist underserved communities complimented NJDEP’s traditional role as a regulatory agency to help NJDEP better achieve its mission to protect, maintain and restore human health and the environment. Following the successes in Camden, the place-based collaborative framework grew into the Community Collaborative Initiative in 2015 to include Trenton and Perth Amboy, and Bayonne in 2017.

The Community Collaborative Initiative formally became a program in 2019 and is housed in the Office of Brownfield and Community Revitalization (OCBR - evolved from the former Office of Brownfield Reuse). With Governor Murphy’s support and generous funding from the NJ Economic Development Authority, CCI expanded into eight additional cities, Bridgeton, Jersey City, Millville, Newark, Paterson, Paulsboro, Salem, and Vineland, each with a designated CCI Liaison. CCI Liaisons are now embedded in 12 underserved communities to work with our public and private partners on our aligned interests, find and leverage resources, and facilitate innovative and multiple-use solutions to better support these communities. The Community Collaborative Initiative works closely across all NJDEP programs and with the Office of Environmental Justice to advance the Department’s mission to protect human health and the environment and to improve social, economic, and health conditions in underserved communities.