The benefits of incorporating environmental justice issues into the College's educational programs are three-fold. First, education efforts will likely inspire Pomona students to become involved in local environmental justice efforts while at Pomona. Next, education efforts have a long-term benefit in inspiring students to think about environmental justice issues when they leave Pomona. Finally, awareness of environmental justice issues is integral to career tracks in environmental fields.
Each year, the Draper Center hosts community engagement trips during Spring Break. Students commit their AlternaBreak to volunteering with organizations addressing social issues such as environmental justice, homelessness, and hunger. Generally, there are four trip locations: Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Oakland. However, in response to the damage of Hurricane Harvey, the Draper Center included a fifth trip option in 2018 to Houston. Each AlternaBreak trip includes a sustainability component.
It is important that the campus community be involved in environmental justice efforts not only in the classroom and in campus activities, but also in engaging and partnering with the surrounding communities of the Los Angeles Basin. Such outreach can be conducted through channels including volunteer efforts, internships, Orientation Adventure, and academic research and projects. In engaging in this outreach, it is important for the College to develop long-term connections with community organizations and specific communities. Extended engagement is far more likely to lead to community empowerment; nothing substantial in the way of real change or real relationships can be accomplished in a short period of involvement.
It is important to note that the College's environmental impacts - resource use, pollution, and disposal methods, among others - inherently connect the institution with environmental justice impacts. Connections between the College's actions and environmental justice issues can be made on various levels, from the very local (the use of toxic materials on campus and who must be exposed) to the regional (the communities living in proximity to the plants that supply our power) to the global (the extent to which campus activities contribute to climate change and other emissions). Almost every strategy suggested in this document can in some way be linked to the improvement of quality of life and environmental quality for some community in the world.