The Metro East
Lead  Collaborative
A Case Study
January 2003
Excerpted from the Report:
Towards an Environmental Justice Collaborative Model: Case
Studies of Six Partnerships Used to Address Environmental
Justice Issues in Communities (EPA/1 OO-R-03-002)
Prepared for the Federal Interagency Working Group on
Environmental Justice by the U.S. EPA Office of Policy,
Economics, and Innovation

This case study has  been excerpted from the report: Towards an  Environmental  Justice
Collaborative Model: Case Studies of Six Partnerships Used to Address Environmental Justice
Issues in Communities  ('January  2003/EPA/100-R-03-002). View this report  on-line  at:  This  report is  a companion  report  to  Towards  an
Environmental Justice Collaborative Model: An Evaluation of the Use of Partnerships to Address
Environmental Justice  Issues in Communities (January 2003/EPA/100-R-03-001). View both of
these on-line at:

U.S.  Environmental  Protection  Agency.  Office  of  Policy,  Economics,  and  Innovation.
Washington, D.C.  A team based  in  EPAs  Office of Policy,  Economics,  and Innovation
developed these reports. Eric Marsh was the project manager for this effort.

The Metro East Lead Collaborative: A Case Study

Table of Contents

Community History	2
Collaborative Background	3
Collaborative Process	5
Collaborative Goals	7
Collaborative Activities	7
Measuring Collaborative Success	9
Collaborative Successes	9
Collaborative Challenges	10
Interviewee's Recommendations for Improving the Partnership	11
Interviewee's Recommendations for Other Communities	11
Value of the Collaborative Partnership	12
Value of the Federal Involvement in the Partnership	13
Key Findings	14
Afterword	15
List of Interviewees	16
Works Cited	17
Endnotes	18

          We joined because it was important that we not duplicate efforts with Illinois EPA and
          the Lead Collaborative.

          Now everyone knows what the other is doing.. .We were doing the same thing. Now
          we partner.

          Value [of the collaborative effort] will be the benefit to the kids.  A., .generation of kids
          will be protected.

                                             — Interviewees, Metro East Lead Collaborative
Community History"

       The City of East St.  Louis and nearby surrounding communities including Brooklyn,
Alorton, Centerville, and Washington  Park, in St. Clair County, are located in southwest Illinois
directly across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri. Built up around heavy industry, as
late as 1961,  East St. Louis had a population of 77,000 benefiting from a strong economy and a
number of well-paying jobs.   However, by the  late 1960's the economy had suffered a severe
setback resulting in factory closures and the exodus of more than half of the city's population.1
Today, East St. Louis consists of approximately 32,000 residents. The population is 99 percent
minority. The poverty rate of the area is 45 percent.  Sixty-five percent of the residents are low
income, and 24 percent are unemployed.2  The area is pocked  by numerous  vacant lots (four
miles out of  the fourteen total  miles making  up East St. Louis are vacant) and abandoned
properties (one out of eight  housing  units are  vacant)3,  several of which serve dual  roles as
children's playgrounds and  illegal junkyards.  Old,  dilapidated  lead smelters and lead paint
factories are common, and at least twenty of these industrial sites are contaminated.4 The East
St. Louis region also has significant air quality and flooding problems.  In addition, children in
the area suffer from lead poisoning at a rate of four times higher than the national average.5

       The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and  Disease Registry has reported that nearly
one in six children  in America have high levels of lead in their blood.  The long-term effects of
lead in a child can be severe, including learning disabilities, decreased growth,  hyperactivity,
impaired hearing, and even brain damage.  Most homes built in the U.S. before 1960 contain
heavily leaded paint and some homes built as recently as 1978 may also contain lead paint,
placing many young children  at risk,  especially children ages infant to six,  who may ingest the
metal.6  Lead levels are perceived as dangerous by the U. S. Center for Disease Control (CDC)
at levels of 10 parts per million (ppm) or higher.  However, Dr. Bruce Lanphear of the Children's
Hospital  Medical Center in Cincinnati has recently  linked lead  levels above five  ppm  to low
reading test scores and increased juvenile delinquency.7

       High blood  lead levels have been a known problem in East St.  Louis  and surrounding
areas for over a decade.8 However,  extensive blood lead screening and lead soil sampling in
the area starting in 1999 began to reveal how much additional work was needed to alleviate the
+ Interviews forthis case study were conducted in early October and early November 2001. Ten separate interviews
were conducted and a total often persons participated. Interviewees included representatives from community
organizations, state, federal, and regional agencies, and business.

threat.9  In the spring of 1999, St. Mary's Hospital Corporate Health Center, the area hospital,
carried out school physicals in order to assess the extent of lead contamination in the school
children's  bloodstream.10 The results of the tests showed that one in five children in the East St.
Louis area had lead levels approaching  the CDC dangerous level of 10  ppm.  Further, lead
levels greater than 5 ppm were found in 70 percent of the children tested.11  Not only were the
lead levels abnormally high, but the ages of those poisoned were older than  expected, six to
twelve.12 These findings led St. Mary's Hospital to speculate that children must be coming into
contact  with lead through means  other than lead-based paint13.  The hospital's concerns
prompted  the Illinois Department of Public Health, in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), to conduct a study to assess the level of lead in soil in selected East
St. Louis neighborhoods.  Results subsequently showed high lead levels in soil  at different sites.

       It is unclear why community organizations and government institutions have not  had
greater success in removing the threat of lead poisoning in  East St. Louis even after several
years of attention has been placed on the issue and a steady flow of resources have been used
to address the problem. There are likely many varied and overlapping factors, a few of which
are briefly mentioned.  The full extent of the problem may not be known.  The scope  of the
problem may be out of proportion to the financial and human resources required to address it.
Therefore, residents and parents in particular may not understand the threats, the symptoms, or
possible remedies. Moreover, even though they may recognize that lead's effects can be quite
dangerous and  possibly severe, some residents may stay silent on the issue fearing that if they
spoke out, they would face  repercussions from  landlords and county officials, including the
potential loss of their homes14 and public funding assistance.15  In addition, efforts by different
organizations to fully remedy the existing threat and locate and treat children already exhibiting
lead poisoning symptoms  may not have been coordinated effectively due to staff and budget
constraints in the public health care sector16.

Collaborative Background

      As previously mentioned St. Mary's Hospital turned to EPA and the Illinois EPA for
assistance in addressing  the high incidence  of  child  blood  poisoning their  testing  program
revealed in East St. Louis and Washington Park.  At the same time, several other organizations
were engaged in separate lead-based remediation efforts in the area, including the City, the
County, community-based non-profits,  and  the  U.S.  Department  of Agriculture's Natural
Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  The EPA  official, who headed the agency's lead-
based work in St.  Louis, came to the recognition that a multi-pronged strategy—one that could
simultaneously  address lead  paint in homes and lead  in  soil—would be  needed.  To  be
effective, the official surmised that  EPA would need to collaborate,  link, and build off existing
efforts of the groups already at work, or capable of working in the East St. Louis area. Although
based in EPA's regional office in Chicago, while the soil sampling was continuing  the EPA
official began networking with a number of different organizations that were already working in
the East St. Louis area.

       In early  1999, EPA called a meeting of stakeholders.  As a result of  this meeting the
stakeholders organized and began to call themselves the East St. Louis Lead Collaborative. In
May 2000 the East St. Louis Lead Collaborative was named as an Interagency Working Group
on Environmental  Justice national demonstration project.  In  2001, the collaborative expanded
to include additional communities in St. Clair County and changed its name to the  Metro East
Lead Collaborative (MELC). The members of the MELC are described below.

MELC Member Organizations and Eventual Resource Contributions
Organization and Type
East Side Health District (Local)
East St. Louis Community
Development Block Grant Operations,
Inc. (Local)
East-West Gateway Coordinating
Enterprise Community Vision 20/20
Illinois Department of Public Health
Illinois Environmental Protection
Collinsville, IL office (State)
Neighbors Technical Assistance
NEIGHBORS United for Progress
Regional Vocational System
Southwestern Illinois Resource
Conservation Development (Regional)
St. Clair County Intergovernmental
Grants Department (County)
St. Mary's Hospital of East St. Louis
St. Louis Community College
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
(Federal/St. Louis, MO)
U.S. Dept of Agriculture/Natural
Resources Conservation Office
(Federal/Champaign, IL)
U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban
Development (Federal/Springfield, IL)
and The Lead Hazard Control Grant
Office (Federal/Washington DC)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(Federal/Chicago, IL)
East St. Louis
East St. Louis
East St. Louis
East St. Louis
East St. Louis
East St. Louis
East St.
Louis, St.
Clair County
St. Clair
St. Clair
East St.
Louis, St.
Clair County
East St. Louis
Eventual Contribution to MELC
Blood lead screening, Outreach
Lead assessments, housing
Grantee, Soil Sampling, Outreach
Lead assessment, Redevelopment
Grantee, Soil sampling, Blood lead
Technical assistance, Outreach,
Grant money
Grantee, Outreach, Lead-safe yards
Lead based paint assessments,
Grantee (biosolid remediation
Grantee, Blood lead screening,
Lead assessment, Outreach,
Housing remediation
Grantee, Blood lead screening,
Outreach, Coordination, Meeting
Grantee -job training, Outreach
Technical assistance and site
Implemented Brownfields Showcase
Community Award
Technical assistance, Grant money
Technical assistance, Grant money
Facilitation and technical
assistance, Grant money
Figure 1. MELC Member Organizations and Eventual Resource Contributions to MELC

Collaborative Process

       The initial meeting of the original MELC took place in  February  1999 at St.  Mary's
Hospital in East St. Louis.  Approximately 16 organizations attended.  The meeting was used
primarily as a forum for the  different participating organizations to get to know each other,
conduct a thorough analysis  of each organizations' activities, and identify what capacity the
organizations  had to adapt  their activities to best  meet the  needs of the  community17.
Representatives described their organizations'  mission and what they had done previously or
were  currently  working  on to reduce the threat of lead poisoning  in the Metro  East area.
Following  this discussion, the organizations then   putforth  ideas regarding  how  they  could
eliminate the redundancy of lead-focused services, how they might collaborate, and how they
might even join resources to better address local lead issues.18  The spirit of cooperation that
emerged from the initial meeting was positive so the organizations agreed to meet every two
months at St. Mary's Hospital.  At  subsequent meetings, members would update the other
members  on their organization's  progress and talk further about how they  might potentially
assist each other.

       The EPA official developed the agendas, distributed announcements and meeting times
via electronic mail, and then  facilitated the collaborative meetings.  She  began collaborative
discussions by describing a potential collaborative strategy.  The official would then ask how
many agree to this approach by asking for a  show of hands.  Following this she  would then
begin asking those who did not agree what
their concerns  were  and how the strategy
could be  modified to obtain  their support.
On most  issues, consensus was reached.
Consensus   in   the    context  of  the
collaborative discussions did not mean that
everyone  was  to be completely satisfied
with the decision; rather that everyone could
live with the decision.19  Since  the early
meetings  were primarily forums for better
understanding    each    of   the    other
organizations,    instead    of   collectively
strategizing how lead work in East St. Louis
should best be accomplished, the  issues
were  not overly contentious.   Regarding
some  topics,   however,  members   would
reach a point where they  would agree to
disagree.   This  was  especially true for
discussions  that  centered  on government
rules and regulations.20
                                           Figure 2. EPA Representation of the original Metro East
       Soon  after these initial  meetings,   Lead Collaborat!ve-
participants  in  the collaborative organized
themselves into two subcommittees according to resources and expertise.  The subcommittees
held meetings  outside of the larger collaborative meetings.   Subcommittee members also
regularly  spoke with each other via electronic  mail  and the  telephone.   Although  the
subcommittees did not  have  designated  chairpersons, members discussed  opportunities for
working together to ensure the continuance of lead testing  and community outreach on lead
issues, and the identification and cleanup of lead contaminated sties and homes.   From these
discussions  emerged unofficial plans of  action, which included basic goals, and  how each
Original Metro-East Lead
    Coordinating Body

Health and

Lead and

subcommittee member would contribute to achieving these goals. The subcommittee members
then discussed their plans at the full collaborative meetings.  The plans generated questions
and discussions from collaborative members but they were both accepted.  Following this, the
subcommittees then began to provide regular updates on their success at full collaborative

       The management of the high number of organizations participating in the collaborative at
one point did become somewhat challenging for the EPA official.  Nevertheless, she remained
committed  to  keeping  everyone  updated   about collaborative  meetings  and activities.
Meanwhile, support and enthusiasm for the effort remained strong.  Potential reasons that the
organizations continued to meet are likely several, but  some  most likely include: (1) a shared
belief and commitment across organizations that the goal of  lead  prevention would be better
achieved by  participating  in these dialogue sessions;* (2) the commitment of the different
organizations'  leadership, which gave staff a mandate to actively participate;21  and (3) the
leadership, interpersonal, and networking skills of the facilitator  and representatives of several
organizations including St. Mary's Hospital, the City, and the County.

       Reducing redundancy of services was a critical focus of  the collaborative.  One area of
redundancy identified by the City, County, and  local health department centered on the various
lead safety brochures distributed  by numerous different organizations, all containing different
information. To counter this, each organization participating in  the collaborative contributed lead
safety  information  specific to each organization that was combined into a single  lead safety
brochure that  included a Metro East Lead Collaborative  logo.  Another instance  centered on
how collaborative members should best interact with the community on lead remediation efforts.
At one meeting  EPA explained that it desired  to notify tenants  and homeowners  it suspected
had yards containing high lead levels through a formal notification process.  A letter was to be
sent to residents describing the problem and  indicating a number to call if they wanted  their
yards tested.  Other federal representatives in attendance  agreed with this approach. However,
local  government  and non-profit organizations argued  that the  only  way residents would
respond  affirmatively would  be to  go door-to-door and explain  the problem.   After some
discussion, members of  the collaborative agreed  to a process that they felt would not only
inform a  greater percentage of residents of potential lead dangers in their yards, but, at the
same  time, inform  them  of opportunities for free lead-blood screening  and  indoor  lead
remediation.  To do this, three MELC members—EPA, Neighbors United for Progress, and the
Community Development Block Grant Operation—formed a  three-person team that traveled
door-to-door in the affected neighborhoods.  The team focused on:  1) educating residents about
i)  the  threats  of  indoor  and  outdoor lead   contamination,  ii) opportunities  for blood-lead
screening,  iii)  opportunities for indoor lead remediation; and iv) opportunities for outdoor lead
remediation; and 2)  helping residents fill-out the appropriate  forms to access these services.
According to one of the partners closely involved in this effort, this multi-pronged team-approach
was much more efficient than traditional practices and much more mindful of residents' time.22

       Since October 2001, the MELC processes have changed  considerably.  For example the
coordinating and facilitating responsibilities, once mainly  assumed  by EPA's regional office in
 One indicator of this commitment, according to the EPA official, was the flexibility shown by several organizational
representatives who regularly adjusted their schedules to continue participating in Collaborative meetings that
frequently continued past their scheduled time (Noemi Emeric, City of Los Angeles; Brownfields Program Manager
(formerly with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Region 5), Phone Interview, 21 January 2003.

Chicago, are now provided locally^  St. Mary's Hospital of East St.  Louis  began providing
coordination and communication responsibilities while  meeting  many of the facilitation  needs.
The  hospital's department of Environmental Health & Community Action works closely with
other members of the collaborative to  develop meeting agendas and to move forward with
collaborative-identified projects and goals.  Members of the collaborative have widened their
leadership  efforts by  serving  on local and  regional  boards  and committees to  further
coordination  efforts,  including  increased  partnership with the  St. Louis  Lead  Prevention
Coalition, a  non-profit regional agency working to end childhood lead poisoning in the metro
region.  Increased participation by MELC agencies in MELC leadership, as  well as regional
leadership, has increased ownership over the collaborative process and also decreases the
MELC's overall dependence on EPA for  coordination.23  While many residents of the East St.
Louis area  are not  directly  participating in the  MELC  meetings,  the  empowerment  of the
community groups and service providers  representing them  in the  collaborative  helps to
increase the sustainability of the MELC.

       In addition, MELC members agreed to begin  rotating the MELC meeting place every four
months during which  a different organization  with  the  collaborative  assumed increased
responsibilities. However after recognizing that rotating meeting places hurt attendance levels,
the MELC returned to holding its meetings once again at St. Mary's Hospital with coordination
provided by the hospital.

       This case study explores background material and interviewee's responses to selected
questions from early October 2001.   Therefore the goals, activities, and findings of this case
study describe the MELC before it underwent the transformation described above.

Collaborative Goals

       The  MELC's  overall goal was to improve children's  health in  the affected areas  by
coordinating existing  locally-based efforts to address lead.  By sharing information  and  limited
resources, the MELC expected to reduce the redundancy of the lead-related activities already
underway in the East St. Louis area.  Specific benefits of MELC's coordination efforts were to

   •    Assessment  of uncontrolled  lead  releases to surface  soils   in residential  yards,
        schoolyards and parks;
   •    Lead-based paint hazard assessment and remediation throughout the county;
   •    Housing rehabilitation  and the removal of lead from abandoned lots;
   •    Blood lead screening of children and pregnant mothers; and
   •    Medical care  referrals  for cases of high lead  blood content.24

Collaborative Activities

       At the time of the interviews the  MELC's main activities centered  on securing funding,
lead testing, cleanup  and outreach. The MELC effectively organized and tapped into the many
resources  provided by the individual partners.  The MELC had  secured over $3,250,000 from
the Army  Corps  of  Engineers, the  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),  the U.S,
Housing and  Urban  Development Agency (HUD),  U.S.  Department of Agriculture (USDA)
tThe EPA official involved in the early coordination of the MELC wasNoemi Emeric. She has since taken a position
with the City of Los Angeles and can be contacted at 213-978-0863. To learn more about the on-going work of the
MELC contact 618-482-7080 or see the MELC website at:

Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the St.
Clair  County  Intergovernmental  Grants  Department,  and   East  St.   Louis  Community
Development Block Grant Office25 for the effort.  MELC applied  these resources to implement
different projects that facilitated the achievement of their goals.

      Once necessary resources were secured,  partner members fully sampled and mapped
the affected communities to identify lead-contaminated homes  and industrial sites, and  later
began to  identify high-risk  groups in  the  area.  By early October 2001,  five homes were
completely remediated and 75 were identified and  waiting to be completed.  Five industrial sites
were  in  the process of being cleaned,  and twenty others were identified.   Approximately 25
percent of the children under age six in  St.  Clair County were tested for high blood lead levels
and St. Mary's Hospital and other partners continue to test the community children's blood lead
levels. After children  with high  blood  lead levels are identified their names are  given to the
County.   The County  then  passes  these high blood lead  level  notifications, and subsequent
identification of possible  property remediation  sites, to MELC  partners responsible  for site
remediation.  The MELC then sends an MELC representative to personally  notify the families
whose children have high blood lead levels and assist them with home remediation applications.
Following these actions site cleanup begins.

      The MELC is also actively implementing an outreach  campaign in order to (1) educate
residents of the dangers of  lead poisoning, (2) inform residents of the existence of the MELC,
and (3)  describe how  the MELC can help  residents  solve their lead-related  health risks.  To
assist with its campaign, the MELC employs the media and regularly releases press kits.   Part
of this effort resulted in a news special that reported the dangers of lead poisoning in the East
St. Louis area, which aired on KPLR WB 11 in St.  Louis.  The MELC also distributes brochures
and flyers to local church leaders and community members describing why lead is a problem,
who is affected most by  lead, the symptoms of lead  poisoning, where  children  can be tested,
how the  doctor checks  for lead,  what parents  can  do to  protect their children from  lead
poisoning, and where  lead  is found around the house.   Similarly, MELC partners  have also
handed out "Lead  Folders" which contain magnets and bookmarks with information that children
can share with their parents.  Moreover, MELC partners have written articles, describing lead
health-risks and MELC support services, that have been  featured in  community newsletters
including the St.  Mary's "Neighborhood Care", "Lead A Special  Edition", and the "Community
Environmental Resource Program newsletter".

      In addition, the MELC hosts community meetings in order to disperse information about
lead poisoning.  For example, the MELC held two  meetings in the Jackie Joyner Kersee Youth
Center in  East St Louis.  Although attendance  by  local  residents was low, those who did
participate received free blood lead screenings and school supplies for their children ages zero
to 14  years.  MELC partners also provided updates on MELC activities including the ongoing
lead soil sampling investigation, the lead paint and  housing rehabilitation initiative, and the blood
lead screening and education campaign. Finally, the MELC also  trains local residents to act as
community facilitators and share information about the dangers of lead to their neighbors.

      The following sections primarily describe interviewees' responses to questions gathered
from interviews conducted by EPA's Office of  Policy, Economics, and Innovation during the
week  of October  1,  2001.  The sections  focus on  interviewees'  impressions  regarding
measuring collaborative success, collaborative successes and challenges, recommendations for
improving  the collaborative,  overall  value  of  the  collaborative,  and  the  value of federal
involvement in the collaborative.

Measuring Collaborative Success

       The  MELC  has not  developed an  evaluation  and monitoring framework to track
implementation of activities and measure.  Nevertheless,  the  interviewees did  have several
suggestions regarding this topic. Six out of the ten mentioned the importance of being able to
gather quantifiable data to measure success. These interviewees suggested  counting the actual
number of contaminated sites cleaned up, homes made safe from lead paint, and children
tested  and treated for lead poisoning. Along these lines, one interviewee added that the MELC
should work to have 125  homes cleaned  of lead paint  by the end of  December 2002.  Two
interviewees suggested conducting a comparative study that  would quantify the number of
children with decreasing blood  lead  levels after  the implementation of  lead removal  actions.
Similarly another interviewee mentioned conducting a comparative analysis of blood lead levels
in children of this  generation with those of the next. In terms of what would actually constitute
success, more broadly, one interviewee mentioned that overall reduction of  lead contamination
in East St. Louis  would be one measure. Other interviewees  suggested measures including
improved  capacity of the community  to address lead contamination issues, visible changes in
the  local environment, housing  redevelopment, the inflow of money  and people  back  into the
community, and the development of additional green spaces.

Collaborative Successes

       The majority of interviewees were satisfied with the role they played in the development
of  the MELC  and  their ability  to participate within the partnership. In addition, all  of  the
interviewees thought the issues most important to their  organizations were being adequately
addressed.   One community interviewee specifically mentioned being pleased to  see an
emphasis on  community  capacity building  demonstrated through local  environmental  job
training in cleanup techniques for the community.  Along  these lines, an  agency representative
stated  that the MELC was doing a good job coordinating its efforts, siting  as an example St.
Mary's Hospital's willingness to refocus on some of EPA's goals.

       When asked about the outcomes, or results, of the partner activities for addressing the
main issues of the affected community, few common themes emerged* Two remarked that the
partnership is not  yet mature enough to have the intended impact on the community. Two other
interviewees noted that the partnership has resulted in the injection of additional resources  into
the  affected areas. Two additional interviewees remarked that the partnership has resulted in
the  communication to residents  about environmental and  public health risks. Related to public
education, another interviewee explained that because of the  collaborative, agencies  are
developing a  better understanding  of the issues facing  the affected  community. Another
interviewee explained that the collaborative has resulted  in the cleanup  of five homes with 75
more to go. Finally, one interviewee stated that,  "The cleanup is having a  major impact.The
realtors are aware...that we are testing with  St. Mary's."

       When asked if they were satisfied with the outcomes of their activities so far four of the
ten  interviewees that answered  the question said unequivocally yes. Five interviewees were
somewhat satisfied with the current  outcomes.   They clarified by stating that: (1) they were
afraid that the activities could not be sustained by the community organizations if other partners
 During the interview process, interviewees were asked questions about both the outcomes of partner activities, and
the impact of activities for the affected communities. From the responses, it was clear that most interviewees viewed
the partnership activities in terms of outcomes, not impact. Therefore, the term outcome is used throughout this

did not continue to participate; (2) the activities were not being performed fast enough; and (3)
there is always more to be done.  Finally, one interviewee thought it was too early to comment
since "he/she did not know what the outcomes were yet."

       The interviewees did not express a consensus about the "greatest success" of the MELC
and several responses focused on different qualities of the MELC. Five out of ten interviewees
agreed that the MELC's greatest success was its  ability  to join  diverse groups together and
provide a forum  where these organizations could effectively  discuss what resources and
expertise each could provide.  They added that this information exchange reduced duplication of
efforts.  Further,  by  better  understanding what  each  organization  could  provide,  the
organizations were able to more effectively identify contaminated sites and children at risk from
lead poisoning and  more quickly initiate lead  remediation activities. Two interviewees also
mentioned the procurement, organization, and assignment of funds within the collaboration as a
major success. On a related note, one interviewee  commented how impressive it was that the
MELC  had been able to accomplish so much without one major argument, especially given the
diverse organizations participating. Another commented that one of the important achievements
of the  MELC has been  its "staying power," adding that the MELC is not only  surviving  but
actually gaining momentum.

       Other successes  of  the collaborative  mentioned  by two interviewees  included  the
assessment of soil  contamination and the  identification of contaminated  sites/houses.  More
specifically two community interviewees mentioned the identification of twenty  contaminated
sites and the subsequent cleanup  of five as  the project's greatest success.   One further
explained that  EPA's follow-through on  this remediation work  was a major success. Two
interviewees commented that even though  the community residents were not empowered as
individuals, the community organizations  involved in the collaboration were, which to them was
seen as a success.  Other successes mentioned included fostering of community  pride, and the
designation of the MELC as an Interagency Environmental  Justice Demonstration  Project.

Collaborative Challenges

        Interviewees gave many different answers when  asked about the greatest challenge
facing  the MELC.   Although  several viewed the level  of coordination within the MELC as a
success, six of the ten interviewees also  mentioned continued coordination and cooperation as
the most significant difficulty.   Interviewees added  that trust issues proved a major barrier to
working together.  For instance, three mentioned that individual organizations were reluctant to
share their information, knowledge, and expertise with other partners.  They went on to say that
this was being addressed by focusing on effective communication between partners as well as
through the increased understanding of the roles each partner played within the MELC.  Another
barrier to collaborative  effectiveness was voiced by  three  interviewees and centered on
difficulties in ensuring organizational involvement, keeping the MELC focused, and maintaining
momentum for  MELC's efforts.  They said this might be due to  a lack of  coordination.  Many
interviewees suggested that the MELC hire or assign an individual/organization to fill the role of
coordinator.  These  interviewees,  however, clarified their  remarks  noting  that too  much
dependence on a coordinator may undermine the sustainability of the MELC, especially if the
coordinator were to leave.*
* It is worth mentioning that the MELC has addressed many of these challenges through reorganizing the partnership process.
According to one MELC member rotating the lead coordinator role has increased the level of individual partner participation,
fostered information sharing, and improved the overall momentum of the project.

       Seven  interviewees suggested that other  main challenges were the (1) inability  to
generate community awareness of the existence of the MELC or the dangers of lead poisoning,
and the (2) inability to gather local support for MELC sponsored activities.  Interviewees stated
that the MELC has employed an  extensive outreach campaign, however, several factors have
limited the MELC's ability to work with the community.   Two interviewees suggested that the
reason  residents  were so  hesitant to take  part  in the project were trust issues  with the
government and one interviewee thought the residents actually  perceived the MELC as the
"government" rather then a collaborative including  local  non-government organizations.   The
two interviewees added that the MELC could not build community support because the MELC
did not truly understand the  community and therefore could not  communicate effectively with
community residents.  For  example,  one  interviewee  cited  HUD's  challenging  application
process for home redevelopment, which inhibited parents from  applying even when they were
fully aware their children had high blood lead levels. According to that interviewee, in order to
overcome this problem the MELC has its members personally accompany notices informing
parents that their children are poisoned.  The MELC representative then directly assists the
residents in filling out the home redevelopment applications.

       The final  challenge to progress mentioned  was  regulatory  barriers. Two interviewees
stated that none of the federal agencies involved in  the partnership are able to use their money
for demolition. It was further stated that this poses a real problem in East St.  Louis,  since
derelict structures are one of the major hazards in the area.

Interviewee's Recommendations for Improving the Partnership

       Interviewees  responded with many suggestions when asked  how to improve the MELC
in  the future.  Six interviewees  mentioned that increasing the  number and diversity of the
participants would be beneficial.  Four interviewees stated that  a  greater number of federal
participants could  increase both the  MELC's scope and effectiveness. Two other interviewees
mentioned the need for greater partner diversity within  the MELC  expressed through increased
participation from  local political leaders and businesses.  They indicated that local government
(the Mayor) should be represented in order to increase  trust between the MELC and community
residents. The interviewees also stated that the MELC would benefit if it took greater strides to
include and educate landowners and landlords of the MELC's work.  The interviewees thought
this might greatly facilitate housing remediation.

       Three interviewees stated the MELC could  benefit most  from an increase in funding.
Another interviewee commented  that every entity  within the partnership  should  help secure
funding. Three interviewees expressed that additional time spent discussing each partner's role
and the resources they could provide would be most helpful.  For example, one interviewee said
every member of the partnership  should have a working knowledge  of every other organization
in  the partnership, and be able to refer questions to appropriate individuals. Along these lines,
one  interviewee  mentioned  that  the roles  of the  participants be  better defined within the
collaboration in order to better coordinate the MELC's activities  in  the community.  Further, two
interviewees mentioned that a coordinator/secretary should be  used to pull the group together
and  help keep it focused.  Interviewees suggested  that a community  facilitator  be  used,
someone who was well known in the community to act as a liaison. One interviewee mentioned
a team building retreat in order to build trust.

Interviewee's Recommendations for Other Communities

       Eight of the ten interviewees offered suggestions for other communities interested in
using collaborative partnerships to address environmental justice issues.  Six stressed  the
importance of  having  the  partnership be  locally  led.   These  interviewees stressed  that
community organizations should lead locally based  partnerships since they are closest to  the
community and its problems, and would, therefore, more easily gain the trust of local residents.
Three  interviewees emphasized that local partnerships need an array of partners  including
representatives from  community organizations as well as federal, state,  and local agencies.
They implied  that this would not only increase  the amount  of resources available to a
collaborative but also allow for more procedural flexibility for using those resources. Along these
lines, two interviewees stated that collaborative partnerships should work to ensure that "the
right people"  get involved, particularly partners with a common  mission who can easily join
services and organize resources.  Another interviewee recommended that partnerships work to
define  roles of the collaborative members and ensure that the lines of communication between
partners  stay  open.   In addition,  one  interviewee  suggested that the goal  of collaborative
partnerships should be to empower local residents to help themselves.

Value of the Collaborative Partnership

       Interviewees gave a variety of answers when asked about the value of the collaborative
process.  Nine out  of the ten interviewees stated that the issues facing the East St. Louis
community would not have been addressed to the same extent, if at all, had the MELC not been
formed. However, one interviewee did comment that it "was hard  to say since EPA [and many
of the  other organizations in the MELC] had been working in the area for a long time." This
interviewee acknowledged that many organizations  had been working in the area before  the
formation  of the collaborative, and  suggested  that  it is impossible to  know how much these
organizations would have accomplished separately.

       Five interviewees stated that the collaborative process was most useful in  stopping
redundancy of services.  This  was  accomplished  by  opening  the  lines of communication
between  MELC members, which allowed them to learn what other partners were doing in  the
community and organize their resources and actions  accordingly.  For example, one interviewee
commented that, "Everyone  is doing their own little piece of the pie," rather than trying to tackle
this  large and  complex problem on  their own.  Two stated that the collaborative process
increased  individual  partners'  capacity to  work together. They went  on  to say  that  the
collaborative process has enabled organizations within the MELC to  develop a  much better
understanding of what it  means to work  together.   The  lines of communication  have been
opened and the organizations are more likely to work together in the future.  Two interviewees
also stressed that the collaborative  process resulted  in a more  effective outreach campaign
focused  on educating residents on the  dangers  of lead poisoning  and  opportunities  for
assistance. However, one interviewee did  criticize the process the MELC was following.  The
individual thought that this process was too slow thereby allowing  gaps to form while services
were being delivered, citing as an example, the two-month delay between child lead testing and
the follow-up calls to the families.

       Along these lines, interviewees were asked if the MELC could be used to address similar
issues that the  East St. Louis community may face in the future.  Six out of eight interviewees
were very  confident  that  the model could be used for future issues. Three mentioned that
organizations  within  the partnership were  already  thinking about how the  model could  be
implemented  to combat asthma.  One  interviewee  stated  that the MELC model  has already
been used as a  basis framework for a  similar collaboration in the nearby community of
Washington Park. Two interviewees, however, were skeptical. One was unsure if the residents

even knew the MELC existed, and the other did not think that the community had the resources
to further address the lead issues without continued federal intervention.

       Finally, interviewees were asked if the organizational styles and procedures of different
partners  were barriers in  the collaborative process.  No interviewee felt that the  different
organizational styles limited the performance of the MELC.  Several, in fact, remarked how the
MELC used the differences of the  organizations to its advantage.  For example, one noted that
during MELC's initial stages, participating organizations were given particular tasks that fit within
each  organization's mission to help carry out and fulfill the collaborative goals.   In  addition,
seven out of the ten interviewees remarked that the nature of a collaborative process is to
overcome procedural restrictions.  For instance, since EPA did not have the jurisdiction to test
the blood lead levels of children, two other partners took action.  St.  Clair County obtained  a
necessary grant and St. Mary's Hospital had staff conduct the actual testing. EPA can now use
the results of the tests to direct additional federal attention on contaminated sites for cleanup in
East St. Louis.

Value of the Federal Involvement in the Partnership

       Six of the eight interviewees who answered  had positive things to say about federal
involvement in the  MELC.  Two non-federal interviewees went so  far as to say that the MELC
would not have existed without the federal partners and, subsequently, the problems would not
have  been addressed.  Four interviewees stated  that the agencies  contributed funds and
expertise to the MELC.  They also  said that the federal agency representatives maintained open
lines of communication, were easily accessible, answered questions, and provided advice to the
other MELC members. Two said, the federal agencies helped foster a more holistic approach to
problem  solving  in this  community.   Two  interviewees  mentioned that federal  involvement
brought attention to the affected communities and gave the project needed credibility.

       When asked what the federal agencies gained by participating in  the MELC six out of
seven interviewees stated  that the federal  agencies now have greater community awareness.
They  added that the federal  agencies are now better able to  assess the capabilities of the
communities  they  are working with.   One community interviewee  mentioned that "we  have
opened their eyes and they can  see  our  handicaps."  Interviewees representing community
partners mentioned that the agencies  have gained an increased sensitivity to peoples' needs
and are aware that they have to  customize the information and  solutions they supply to the
communities  they  are dealing with. The federal  agencies  have learned  how to listen to the
communities  they  are trying to help.   Moreover, they are better equipped to  work  with the
communities rather than "tell the local  representatives what to do." For instance, according to
one interviewee  in  East  St. Louis  the agencies have learned that mass mailings do not work,
and a television/radio outreach approach  is best in  that community.    Another interviewee
commented that  the federal agencies have learned how to "network" with one another and will
be better able to work together in the future.

       When asked whether federal  agencies  have been  able to  better coordinate  their
activities as a result of their involvement in the MELC, interviewees responded  positively.  All
the interviewees stated  that the federal agencies have been better able to  coordinate their
activities as a result of the collaborative process. The agency representatives said that they are
coordinating  better  between  themselves, and  one  even  saw  improvement  in  his/her
relationships  with  state agencies participating  with him/her on  other projects.    Many
interviewees expressed that the agencies are sharing information and "thinking outside the box."
One interviewee mentioned that the agencies are coordinating  to innovatively use funds and

other resources on the project.  However, two interviewees did say that despite these gains the
agencies could do better.  Specifically, they could do a better job of sharing information, pooling
ideas, and defining their roles within the MELC.

       Interviewees were  also  asked  what federal  agencies could do  in  order to  better
participate within community-based collaboratives.  Two out of the  seven interviewees that
answered this question stressed the importance that  federal agencies ensure participation of
local federal agency representatives.  In  this case the EPA representative was stationed in
Chicago, and many of the other federal representatives had their offices well out of the East St.
Louis area. One interviewee stated that it  is very important to have a community-based person
participating with the federal agencies,  one that can act as a liaison between the collaborative
and the community.  The  interviewee  made this suggestion  in reference  to the trust  issues
between the community and the "government."  This interviewee believes that the residents
equate the MELC with the "government."   Two interviewees stated that the federal agencies
should better recognize their responsibility to provide  funding.   One added that the agencies
should better advertise the grants that are available to combat the problems facing the  target
community. However, two interviewees stated that it is important for the federal agencies to be
"more hands on," and that agencies should participate in collaboratives not only with money, but
also with a willingness to share information and planning responsibilities. An interviewee  said it
is important for federal agencies  to work to find a collaborative model that works for the affected
community.   Another stated  that time should  be spent identifying  the  problems and  the
resources available to combat those problems.

Key Findings

•  The collaborative approach  used by the MELC has enabled its  member organizations to
   reduce duplication and improve efficiency of key activities.  For instance, the coordination of
   blood lead level testing, site/house remediation, and community outreach programs in East
   St.  Louis and the surrounding region. Without the collaborative process it is unlikely that the
   problems  facing the affected community  would have  been addressed  as efficiently  or

•  The members of the MELC regarded the collaboration as a success. However, interviewees
   did see a possibility for improved local participation. Interviewees suggested that agency
   representatives should have  local offices in the region and that the MELC should have local
   membership  including local  political leaders.   The interviewees said that a collaborative
   would achieve its goals most efficiently  when it is locally  lead.

•  A major challenge faced by the MELC was a lack of trust between partner members for each
   other.  In order to increase  trust between members it was suggested that  every partner
   should have a working knowledge of every other partner.

•  The MELC has also had difficulties effectively communicating with local residents about its
   programs. To overcome this the MELC has focused on improving its understanding of local
   residents and modified its outreach campaigns accordingly.

•  Although the MELC has  made significant strides to reduce risks from  lead, a substantial
   number of interviewees' feel that the  MELC would be even more effective  if  the partner
   organizations' roles were better  defined and/or a  full  time coordinator was hired.  Since
   October 2001 the MELC has modified  its procedures and better defined  partner roles. This
   action may have addressed the concerns voiced by the interviewees.


       According to a facilitating member of the collaborative who has been involved in MELC
coordination since the summer of 2001, the collaborative continues to meet every two months in
general meetings,  and  as frequently as two  times a  month in committee meetings  to  move
special projects and goals forward.  Development of educational materials and programming, a
community health educator program that trains  community residents,  development of MELC
promotional  materials, and the  obtainment of additional resources represent just a few of the
MELC's more recent efforts.  In addition, an informal MELC leadership team working to provide
strategic recommendations for  the  general collaborative's review and  approval has emerged
over the course of the past six months.

       Additionally,  the MELC  has taken  a great deal of regional leadership and helped to
design a regional  campaign,  Lead-Free 2003, which included production of a calendar funded
through combined  partner efforts  that showcases  children's  artwork promoting lead-safe
messages.  Additionally,  the MELC began a federal letter  campaign  in March 2002,  which
eventually culminated in a regional event bringing regional partners together with ten high level
federal officials visiting from six agencies.  Participants spent the day touring the area,  learning
about current local capacity to  address lead poisoning, and  discussing strategies  to  increase
this capacity.   Based  on  feedback received  through this process, MELC members began
developing a five-year strategic plan. The strategic plan will be available on the collaborative's
web site ( and in print by March 2003.  In addition,  a MELC
documentary highlighting the  collaborative process produced by Illinois EPA will be available by
April 2003.

       While there have been  changes in  membership  and individual  leadership, the MELC
remains mission-driven, coordinated, and committed to improving the health and well-being of
children and their families in the Metro East.26

List of Interviewees

Chris Anderson             East St. Louis Community Development Block Grant Operation
Tony Camillo               St. Mary's Hospital
Noemi Emeric              U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Dave Eustis                Southwestern Illinois Resource Conservation and Development
Blair Forlaw                East-West Gateway Coordinating Council
Tom Miller                 Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
Rebecca Perkins           Neighbors United for Progress
Deb Roush                Army Corps of Engineers
Joan Scharf                St. Clair County Intergovernmental Grants Department
Lue Walters                Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA)

Works Cited

Belleville News-Democrat, "On Target to Fix Lead Problem," Belleville News-Democrat. 3
      September 2000.

Emeric,  Noemi, City of Los Angeles; Brownfields Program Manager (formerly with U.S.
      Environmental Protection Agency; Region 5), Phone Interview. 21 January 2003.

Getz, Jim, "Officials Tackle Lead-paint Problems "St. Clair-Monroe Post. 5 July 2001.

Hodapp, Mark, "Group Takes Aim at Youth Problems: Seeing Potential Fulfilled is Goal," St.
      Louis Journal.  11 March 2001.

Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice, Integrated Federal Interagency
      Environmental Justice Action Agenda,  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;  Office of
      Environmental Justice, EPA/300-R-00-008, November 2000.

Metro East Lead Collaborative, "Protecting Children's Health & Reducing Lead Exposure
      through Collaborative Partnership," Environmental Justice Action Agenda Presentation.
      East St. Louis, IL.

Parish, Norma. "Hospital Tests Children for Lead  Poisoning in Metro East," St. Louis Post-
      Dispatch. September 2000.

Penn, Kara, St. Mary's Hospital of East St. Louis,  Electronic Communication. 23 January 2003.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Metro  East Soil
      Sampling Work Update." 2000.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics and Office of
      Ground Water and Drinking Water, "Lead Poisoning and Your Children."

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Interagency Environmental Justice Demonstration
      Projects: An Interim Report.  December 2000.

Interagency  Working  Group  on  Environmental  Justice,  Integrated Federal  Interagency
      Environmental Justice Action Agenda, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Office of
      Environmental Justice, EPA/300-R-00-008, November 2000.


1 Mark Hodapp, "Group Takes Aim at Youth Problems: Seeing Potential Fulfilled is Goal," St. Louis Journal. 11 March
2 Metro East Lead Collaborative, "Protecting Children's Health & Reducing Lead Exposure through Collaborative
Partnership," Environmental Justice Action Agenda Presentation. East St. Louis, IL. Slide number 6.
3 Ibid.
4 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Metro East Soil Sampling Work
5 Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice, Integrated Federal Interagency Environmental Justice Action
Agenda. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Office of Environmental Justice. EPA/300-R-00-008. November
2000. p. 25. .
6 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics and Office of Ground Water and
Drinking Water, "Lead Poisoning and Your Children." .
7Jim Getz, "Officials Tackle Lead-paint Problems "St. Clair-Monroe Post. 5 July 2001. p. 1.
8 Belleville News-Democrat, "On Target to Fix Lead Problem," Belleville News-Democrat. 3 September 2000.
9 Ibid.
10Norma Parish, "Hospital Tests Children for Lead Poisoning in Metro East," St. Louis Post-Dispatch."September
2000. p. B+.
11 On Target to Fix Lead Problem, p. 1.
12 Ibid.
13 Ibid.
15 Noemi Emeric, City of Los Angeles; Brownfields Program Manager (formerly with U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency; Region 5), Phone Interview, 21 January 2003.
16 Ibid.
17 Ibid.
18 Ibid.
19 Ibid.
20 Ibid.
21 Ibid.

23 '^^
23 Kara Penn, St. Mary's Hospital of East St. Louis, Electronic Communication, 23 January 2003.
24 Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice, p. 25.
25 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Interagency Environmental Justice Demonstration Projects: An Interim
Report. December 2000. p. 35.
26 Kara Penn, St. Mary's Hospital of East St. Louis, Electronic Communication, 23 January 2003.