Impact Trenton 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.
In the last five years, The Citizens Campaign’s Citizen Leaders, Citizen Legislators and Citizen Journalists have truly impacted the Capitol City. These empowered citizens have introduced innovative reforms, positively affected public policy, and identified evidenced-based solutions that continue to benefit the City.
Starting in 2010, The Citizens Campaign worked with more than 75 Trenton residents to launch the Trenton Call to Service! Part of a larger initiative in the City, we wanted to increase the pool of citizen problem solvers while educating Trentonians about the ways they could impact their City.
(Trenton Call to Service! Kick Off- 2010)
At monthly “Power Hour” meetings, participants worked collaboratively to identify priority issues and evidence-based solutions. The Citizens Campaign, our partners and collaborating organizations, provided experienced coaches in politics and policy to strengthen these discussions. In addition, The Citizen Campaign’s online training classes and live workshops have supported residents as they continued to find solutions to the issues they care about.
In 2011, citizens interested in the environment came together to form Trenton’s Green Team which is working diligently to make Trenton more environmentally sustainable. Green Team members worked to develop a “Complete Streets” policy for the City with a goal of making streets safer and more accommodating to all road users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transportation users. This was achieved through a two year collaborative effort among planners, engineers, public officials and residents and we are pleased to report this policy is still in place today. In fact, Trenton’s Green Team received “The Complete Streets Champion” award at a Rutgers University Summit.
The Green Team received bronze certification from Sustainable Jersey in 2012.
(Bronze Certification Ceremony with Sustainable Jersey)
Citizen leaders were also the driving force behind the creation of Trenton’s first-ever Ethics Board. Citizen Leaders Marge Berkeyheiser and Vertulie Massenat worked in collaboration with Councilmembers Verlina Reynolds- Jackson and Marge Caldwell- Wilson to make this happen. A six member bi-partisan board was established. Three Democrats, two Republicans and one Independent member were chosen to investigate possible conflicts of interest involving city employees.
The achievements of engaged citizens were further supported by our amazing team of Citizens Journalists. Men and women like Darren “Freedom” Green, Samuel Kanig, Crystal Feliciano and Delonte Harrod who are working to shine a light on positive happenings, emerging leaders and civic innovation in the City.
Citizen Leader Darren "Freedom" Green Citizen Leader Pamela Sims Jones
On April 26th, 2014, The Citizens Campaign, in collaboration with over a dozen partners representing the non-profit, faith-based and academic communities, hosted a citywide conference and mayoral candidate forum entitled Setting Trenton’s Education Agenda. With the help of Citizen Leader Francis Blanco, the event was held at the Living Hope Empowerment Center. The forum began with five mayoral candidates discussing their potential education policies. This was followed by a presentation and panel discussion by experts and professionals regarding best practices for cultivation of leadership skills among our youth and effective programs for after-school tutoring.
(Citizen Leader Francis Blanco in 2012, now Mayor Eric Jackson’s Chief of Staff)
Following Mayor Jackson’s election, our citizen leaders have been invited to speak with the Mayor and his cabinet about issues facing the City. Currently, we are working with the Mayor’s office, the Police Director and the State Attorney General to establish a Trenton Police Auxiliary. And most recently, with teacher and Citizen Leader Jerell Blakeley at the forefront, the Trenton Board of Education had adopted The Citizen Campaign’s Leadership Civics curriculum. The course will be available at Trenton Central High School West Campus in the fall semester of 2015.
The Citizens Campaign is committed to the City of Trenton and is proud to be playing a role in empowering Trenton residents. Citizen leaders have taken the lead in establishing Trenton’s Green Team, its first Ethics Board and in adopting Pay-to-Play reform ensuring fairness in government contracting. And we’re still going…
(Downtown Trenton, 2013)
Building on these past experiences, we are working with Trenton stakeholders to create the first ever Trenton Civic Trust powered by Trenton Civic Trustees. Trustees come together for monthly meetings to identify and prioritize common-purpose issues facing the City, conduct evidence-based research to find cost-effective solutions, and present these solutions in ready-to-adopt- form to the appropriate government body and/or the School Board. Civic Trustees are continuing to travel the road of success. Under the leadership of Civic Trustee Pearleen Waters and Robert Donaldson, The Trenton Planning Board adopted the Storm and Flood Protection Resolution that puts Trenton in the forefront of addressing the impact of severe storms and flooding.
In Memoriam: Trenton Citizen Leader Patricia Stewart