By Stephen Merrill Smith, Esq.
The Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast (BCONE) joined forces with the New York City Brownfield Partnership (NYCBP) and the NJ Licensed Site Remediation Professional Association (LSRPA) at NSCW to discuss the services each non-profit provides to communities, non-profit groups, and students.
All three organizations award annual scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students; each has some version of a “pro bono counseling program” for communities and/or organization members.
All three groups have scholarships to give, but that the overall feeling is that they could do a better job of getting the word out.
On important difference pointed out by Ernie Rossano of ERM, who is the current 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 of the organizations reiterated how important it is to form a good relationship with a local government agency; 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. A lot of times small developers and properties owners are unfamiliar with the government 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.
Denise Nickel of the BCONE Advisory Board emphasize how important it is to to constantly work on different avenues to get the word out on the services available from non-profit organizations like BCONE, NJLSRPA and the NYCBP. She reiterated what the NSCW participants shared: that there is a need effective marketing and constant marketing.
Suggestions from session participants included working with the League of Municipalities, participating in an annual summit with the State Legislators and other members of the state government. Another suggestion was to go to the State Legislature once a year because the legislature often 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. Further, they broke down the 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 NYCBFP had reached out to financial aid 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 this would be a good time to send out scholarship information as well. Still another participant suggested a process of constant contact. She said there are three things that worked well. First, send out scholarship information way far 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 was 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 know about the availability of these scholarships for their pre-college senior counseling.