Detroiters Have the Right to Clean Air, Safe Water and Healthy Neighborhoods

Decades of environmental racism have placed our most vulnerable communities at risk. Join Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice as we fight for the health and well-being of all residents.

Rebuilding Detroit Starts With Improving Detroiters’ Quality of Life

Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice has helped close to 500 unemployed or under-employed low-income and minority residents improve their lives and their communities.

Preparing Detroit for Climate Change

DWEJ takes action and gets results. We published the Detroit Climate Action Plan (DCAP), a plan that contains 100+ ways to achieve climate resiliency and that contributed to a major win for Detroiters, when City Council unanimously adopted its first Greenhouse Gas Ordinance in 2019.

DWEJ Takes A Stand for Racial Justice

COVID-19 is harming people of color and low-income communities far more than other populations. Health justice, racial justice, and environmental justice are all part of the same fight.

“Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice came into the community and informed the people about the environment and what we can do to help protect ourselves… We are continuing with educating the community in regards to the rain gardens and rain barrels. DWEJ came in and showed us how, and now we’ve learned how to do it ourselves and can show others.”

– Minnie and Eddie Lester, Residents of the Detroit Southeast Waterfront Neighborhood
Read their story

Powerful Change Begins When We Work Together

Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice —or DWEJ for short —is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the environmental and economic health of our community. We champion a healthy environment for all people through innovative, thoughtful community and policy actions that put people first. We have grown from a group of grassroots activists that formed in 1991 and went on to become a major voice recognized locally, statewide, and nationally, for our visionary programs and projects that stimulate economic growth, while also creating sustainable, livable communities.

As Michigan’s first environmental justice organization, our work is woven into the fabric of every Detroit neighborhood. Our far-reaching initiatives, programs, and collaborations touch the lives of all Detroit residents and provide lasting benefits to our communities, improving quality of life now and for generations to come.

Learn more about us

Environmental Justice and Injustice: How are Race and Class Related?

Environmental injustice is the reality that some communities or groups are unequally subjected to more environmental risk and pollution than others. Go into almost any urban or low-income area and look around—it’s plain to see. The most polluted zip code in Michigan is 84 percent black. Many communities of color that encounter toxic work conditions, environmental hazards, or polluted neighborhoods are also low-income.

Environmental justice is a solution to these systemic problems. It is the idea that all people and communities have the right to equal environmental protection under the law, and the right to live, work and play in communities that are safe, healthy and free of life-threatening conditions.

Learn more about Environmental Justice

Video courtesy of Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali

DETROITERS WORKING FOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE WORKS FOR YOU

Spirit of Detroit sculpture

Leading the Way

Environmental justice requires cooperation to succeed. DWEJ shares our expertise with others across Michigan and beyond. We partner with and advise business leaders, universities, lawmakers and more. Our leadership creates real, meaningful results. We convened the Detroit Climate Action Collaborative in 2011. Soon after, we brought together the influential team of ten local organizations that created the Detroit Environmental Agenda in 2013, a collaboration that is still active to this day. In 2019, we were honored with creating and leading the implementation of the community engagement strategy for the Detroit Sustainability Action Agenda. In that same year, we co-authored the MI-Environmental Project, an online interactive mapping tool that helps identify areas at risk of harmful environmental conditions.

Spirit of Detroit sculpture

Green Jobs

While Detroit continues to rebuild, DWEJ continues to fight for and create employment opportunities for income insecure and minority residents. We’ve conducted career training programs since 2008, beginning with our Build Up Detroit program, which gave Detroiters the tools they needed to reclaim and repair their environment. The program catapulted us into a full-fledged Green Jobs Training Program. Since then, close to 500 program graduates have gained the skills and abilities needed to get meaningful jobs to help transform and improve their own communities. Future Build Construction Group, our most recent green jobs social enterprise, ensures that environmental stewardship goes hand-in-hand with construction work and quality craftsmanship.

Spirit of Detroit sculpture

Taking Action

Creating real, meaningful change is at the heart of our mission. Talking and raising awareness is not enough. We fearlessly shine a light on environmental burdens and their impacts. We are tireless advocates and trusted partners for people on the front lines fighting environmental hazards. After decades of constantly speaking out, standing up, “rocking the boat”, and pushing for meaningful policy and government changes, we are now a valued partner in a new beginning for Detroit. DWEJ has a long history of programs and accomplishments that have transformed communities and improved lives across Detroit and Michigan.

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS

Patagonia logo

NEWS

Sandra Turner-Handy Joins the DWEJ Board

Sandra Turner-Handy Joins the DWEJ Board

Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice is pleased to announce that we have a new member on our Board of Directors. In September, Sandra Turner-Handy became the latest member of DWEJ's leadership group, adding her wealth of knowledge and experience to our...

read more
EJ Wins: Flint

EJ Wins: Flint

The fight to correct environmental injustices has continued around the US even with COVID-19 bringing many daily activities to a screeching halt. This fight represents the continuation of years of dedication by the community to demand equality and to persevere in the...

read more
DWEJ’s Statement on Racial Justice

DWEJ’s Statement on Racial Justice

The history of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice has always been deeply intertwined with the battle against racism. At its core, DWEJ is actively committed to and involved in the fight for equality, and more specifically, in elevating the health, social,...

read more
Letter from Our Board

Letter from Our Board

COVID-19’s slowdowns and our change in leadership offer DWEJ’s board and staff a strong opportunity to reassess our future and chart a new and ambitious course for the organization. As part of this course of action, DWEJ has recruited consultant Jumana Vasi to work...

read more