By Stephen Merrill Smith, Esq.
Rodger A. Ferguson, Jr. of PennJersey Environmental and President of the LSRPA  joined with representatives from the New York City Brownfield Partnership (NYCBP) and the Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast (BCONE)  at the Northeast Sustainable Communities Workshop held in May at NJIT to discuss the services each non-profit provides to communities, non-profit groups, and students.
All three groups have scholarships to give, but the overall feeling is that they could do a better job of getting the word out.
Each has some version of a “pro bono counseling program” for communities and/or organization members; in the LSRPA’s case, it is the Sounding Board.
One important difference pointed out by Ernie Rossano of ERM, who is the President of the NYCBP, is that that the Partnership works closely with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation (OER). Sue Boyle of GEI Consultants, Inc, and the contracted Executive Director for each organization reiterated how important it is to form a  good relationship with  local and state government agencies; in the case of the NYCBP, OER has resources to get the word out and when it hears questions about brownfields, they can send them to the Partnership. Many small developers and property owners are unfamiliar with the government programs and possibly even scared of going to the government. So it’s extremely helpful to have the Partnership as a non-governmental group that can work with interested parties and developers. LSRPA has developed a good relationship with NJDEP and is working with contacts at the League of Municipalities  and the Association of NJ Environmental Commissions to strengthen relationships at the local level.
Denise Nickel of Middlesex County and the BCONE Advisory Board emphasized how important it is to constantly work all avenues to get the word out on the services available from non-profit organizations like LSRPA, BCONE, and the NYCBP. She reiterated the need effective and constant marketing.
Suggestions from session participants included participating in an annual summit with the legislators and other members of the state government, perhaps once a year if the legislature devotes an entire day to listening to groups and organizations about what they do and how they can be of benefit to the state.
Regarding scholarships, the topic of contacts within colleges and universities was suggested by several participants. Ben Alter of GZA, who chairs the LSRPA’s College Outreach and Scholarship Committee with Erin Palko of Integral, actively joined in on this discussion.  Participants suggested that contacts be made at all pertinent individual departments within the university that needed to hear about scholarship resources available. For example, establish a contact in the business school, in the engineering school, and in the environmental courses and programs that universities and graduate schools have.  Ernie Rossano of NYCBP  mentioned that establishing the right individual person contact was key, that the NYCBP had reached out to financial aid offices without much success. He and others agreed that the most important individual contact to get the word out would be individual professors, such as faculty advisors to students getting their masters or doctorate degrees.
Regarding outreach, one participant mentioned that the Association of Associations could be tapped to multiply the network of people who can get the word out. Another participant suggested that when academics send out requests for interns for their offices, that would be a good time to send out scholarship information as well. Still another participant suggested a process of being in constant contact. She said there are three things that worked well:  first, send out scholarship information way in advance; second, keep lists of everyone that you’ve worked with -- any organization or any school worked with. Third, determine five touch points to remind people. This was especially important. Her organization found that five reminders were the right number to get people to attend events, turn in applications, or complete anything that had a deadline.
Social media came up as an important way to get the word out. Additionally, a participant suggested going to sororities and fraternities, or perhaps to one of the meetings of the Greek Society (an organization representing all the sororities and fraternities on campus) with scholarship information. It was also suggested that it might not be too early to give information to high school counselors to information them about the availability of these scholarships for their pre-college seniors.