Mission: To serve as a resource and support center for people working to improve the social, economic, and natural environment in California's Inland Empire.
About the Organization: Low-income communities of color and recent immigrants living close to rail yards, warehouse areas, toxic waste facilities, intermodal facilities, freeways, and other industrial infrastructure are at greatest risk for environmentally related health problems. In Southern California, transportation is responsible for 83 percent of the oxides of nitrogen in the atmosphere and 95 percent of diesel emissions in the state, with trucks producing more than 50 percent of the former while accounting for only 2 percent of the vehicles on the road. In the Inland Valley, the fastest-growing region in the state, San Bernardino County ranks among the top ten most polluted counties in the U.S. and boasts the highest prevalence of asthma symptoms in Southern California among children between the ages of 1 and 17. Poverty rates in the region also are high, with 20 percent of the residents of San Bernardino County and 17 percent of the the residents of Riverside County living in poverty.
Founded in 1978, CCAEJ is a progressive, base-building nonprofit that brings Inland Empire communities together around opportunities for cooperation, agreement, and problem solving related to the social and natural environment. Using the lens of environmental health to achieve social change, the organization works to develop and sustain democratically-based, participatory decision-making that promotes involvement of a diverse range of people in ways that empower individuals and the community overall.
Current Programs: CCAEJ's work aims to advance the goals of environmental justice, with a focus on training future leaders, particularly women of color; and challenge the exploitation of workers and the environment; the oppression of people on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, and class; and the concentrated power of scientists, elites, politicians, developers, and corporations.
Through its Civic Engagement Program, CCAEJ works to forge a solid voting block of people of color and working-class families in the Inland Empire willing to support issues and policies that improve their lives and lead to the creation of good jobs. Current priorities of the program include the 2020 Census and Get Out the Vote (GOTV) campaigns. The organization's Goods Movement/Healthy Communities campaign continues to provide support, training, and information to communities struggling with the devastating public health affects of air pollution caused by the goods movement industry — railroads, intermodal facilities, and diesel trucks that originate at the ports of Los Angeles (the single largest port complex in the nation) — and is actively advocating zero emission solutions for the region. And its Community Organizing Program works to build the power and capacity of Inland Empire communities to address and advance solutions to environmental justice issues through leadership development, advocacy, and mobilizations targeting decision-makers with the power to make polices that affect the daily lives of community members.
COVID-19 Response: Inland Empire residents are exposed to some of the worst air pollution in the nation, which has led to increased respiratory conditions and cancer rates. And because only four of ten jobs in the region pay a living wage, families find themselves living paycheck to paycheck and usually without a health safety net. Lacking adequate health protections and often suffering weakened immune and lung capacity, families and individuals in the region are especially vulnerable to the impacts of SARS-CoV-2. Against that backdrop, CCAEJ's priority is to provide resources to Inland Empire residents impacted financially by COVID-19 and/or not eligible for government assistance due to their immigration status. To that end, the organization is distributing mutual aid and assistance directly to people in areas where it actively organizes and that are experiencing the greatest need.