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March 4, 2008

CCNY ADVERTISING/PR STUDENTS HELP WE ACT PREPARE NEXT GENERATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE LEADERS

NEW YORK, March 4, 2008 –Advertising and public relations students at The City College of New York (CCNY) are partnering with WE ACT, a West Harlem community group that advocates for environmental justice, to develop grassroots outreach campaigns to bring the “green movement” home.

Over the course of the spring semester, four teams, each comprised of 10 students in the CCNY AD/PR workshop class, will assume the role of WE ACT’s communications agency.  The teams will compete against each other to develop distinct integrated marketing communications campaign to brand WE ACT and build its membership. 

The workshop is the capstone course for advertising and public relations majors, and it provides “real world experience” prior to graduation.  It is taught by Professors Nancy Tag and Lynne Scott-Jackson. 

“We believe letting our students get experience working for nonprofit, socially conscious organizations gives them an entirely different perspective on the profession,” said Professor Tag.  In past years, the class has done campaigns on behalf of the New York Organ Donor Network, the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, and Spend Smart, a consumer credit education program for students.

In order to test the effectiveness of the students’ work, the teams will initially mount advertising and public relations campaigns on the CCNY campus.  At the end of the semester, the four teams will formally present their campaigns to the client, who will judge which one best meets their objectives. 

The partnership with WE ACT is part of the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies Service Learning Initiative.  “Students will be encouraged to think critically about social issues and apply the new knowledge toward addressing real community problems and concerns,” said Nora Heaphy, Service Learning Program Director for The Powell Center.  In addition, the CCNY Media & Communication Arts Department recently was awarded a grant to enhance sustained public service student opportunities and community partnerships. 

WE ACT, headquartered at 271 W. 125th St. in West Harlem, is a community-based organization which combines policy advocacy with grassroots organizing as part of a broad-based effort to address the disproportionate burden of pollution, environmental degradation, and health risks borne by people of color.  The organization was founded in 1988 in response to the negative effects that the North River Sewage Treatment Plant would have on the surrounding neighborhood.  Now observing its 20th anniversary, WE ACT is the premier, nationally-recognized environmental justice leader. 

“We make people accountable,” explains WE ACT Health and Housing Coordinator Julien A. Terrell, a self-proclaimed “policy guy.”  In his role at WE ACT, he brings together a network of elected officials, tenant/housing groups, community leaders, hospitals and universities—all united for the public good.  “It’s about collaboration and partnerships.  The more informed people are, the more proactive and effective we can be!”

During an initial briefing to CCNY students, Mr. Terrell offered the organization’s resources to inform and educate the CCNY student body about environmental issues.  Over time, the CCNY community can become empowered to improve their environment and quality of life, at home, at school and at work—in West Harlem and beyond, he added.

In 2009, WE ACT plans to unveil the Environmental Justice Resource Center, a Harlem brownstone at 459 West 140th Street, adjacent to The City College campus.  This state-of-the-art "green building” will serve as a model of environmentally responsible design.

It will house storage space for WE ACT’s health research materials, meeting rooms for the Government Accountability program and a resource room for the organization’s Youth Leadership program.   The Environmental Justice Resource Center will provide a new venue for collaboration between government, industry and academia to create sustainable development solutions and construction projects that benefit communities.

Additional Contacts

Professor Nancy Tag ntag@ccny.cuny.edu

Professor Lynne Scott Jackson, lscottjackson@ccny.cuny.edu

Julien A. Terrell, julien@weact.org

On the Web

WE ACT: www.weact.org

CCNY Department of Media and Communications Arts: http://www.ccny.cuny.edu/mca/

Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies: http://www1.ccny.cuny.edu/ci/cpowellcenter/index.cfm

About The City College of New York

For more than 160 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines.  Over 14,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; The School of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture (SAUDLA); The School of Education; The Grove School of Engineering, and The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.  For additional information, visit www.ccny.cuny.edu.

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