Impact Perth Amboy Initiative
The Citizens Campaign’s core mission is to recruit citizens from outside the political establishment and empower them to participate in the leadership of their communities by teaching them skills and a solutions-oriented “no-blame” approach.
Over the past two years, The Citizens Campaign’s empowered citizen leaders have introduced innovative reforms and positively affected public policy in the Bay City.
In September 2013, The Citizens Campaign announced the launch of Impact Perth Amboy and initiated Bay City Conversations with more than fifty Perth Amboy stakeholders in attendance. Participants agreed to come together to discuss issues of public concern and identify evidenced-based solutions that would benefit their City.
(Perth Amboy Citizens at the launch of Impact Perth Amboy, 2013)
At the monthly meetings that followed, citizens identified three issue areas of interest: education, the environment and arts and economic development. Participants broke up into these issue-based task forces and focused on improving at-risk youth education, and addressing environmental issues in the City and the creation of a thriving arts community that would spur economic development.
The Citizens Campaign, our partners and collaborating organizations, provided experienced coaches in politics and policy to strengthen these discussions. In addition, The Citizens Campaign’s online resources, training and live workshops supported residents in their quest to find evidenced based solutions to the issues they care about. By the Spring of 2014, these conversations led to action.
The Education Task Force sponsored a city wide conference, Empowering Perth Amboy Parents and Students. Held at the Raritan Bay Area YMCA on March 29th, 2014, the conference sought to educate parents, students, teachers and the community at large about their legal rights to participate in setting school district standards for student behavior.
(Education Task Force Member Reverend Donna Stewart)
A panel of education experts including the Superintendent of New Brunswick Public Schools, Richard Caplan, President and CEO of the Newark Trust Fund for Education, Ross Danis and New Brunswick elementary school Principal Georgette Gonzalez, shared their thoughts and spoke about their experiences with community involvement in schools.
Attendees learned about community input on Codes of Student Conduct and best practices regarding school discipline in other cities.
In order to better understand the needs of Bay City parents and students, the Education Task Force drafted and disseminated a city-wide questionnaire. The survey asked community members how they would handle certain situations involving the need for student discipline. Over 500 people responded and this information was presented to the Board of Education for consideration when reviewing the Perth Amboy Schools' code of student conduct.
(Arts & Economic Development Task Force Member: Shaneil Stokes)
The Arts and Economic Development Task force was also hard at work fostering recognition of the arts as a positive vehicle in economic development. Working in collaboration with Creative Perth Amboy and the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, Task force members and other engaged citizens assisted in the development of an Arts Council Ordinance, which was unanimously adopted by the City Council on June 25th, 2014. The newly formed Arts Council seeks to identify opportunities for the arts, linking them to development projects throughout the Bay City. They continue to work towards the creation of an Arts District and expansion of outdoor art activities such as murals on both private and public property.
In the meantime, the Environmental Task Force successfully worked to develop a Green Team in July 2014. It’s first members, many of whom were Task force members, were appointed by the Perth Amboy City Council.
The Perth Amboy Green Team received a $9000.00 grant from Sustainable Jersey to install a fitness trail along the waterfront on Sadowski Parkway. Its future plans include the creation of a tree fund for the City and other sustainable development projects.
In addition to their work in creating the Green Team, the Environmental Task force is proposing adoption of the City Planning Board of a model Comprehensive Storm and Flood Protection Resolution. This resolution moves flooding and other storm impacts to the forefront in city master planning and experiencing firsthand the impacts of Super storm Sandy, Perth Amboy is aware of the importance of such planning.
These task forces are now operating as part of the Perth Amboy Civic Trust.
(The First Perth Amboy Civic Trust Meeting 03/18/15)