Area of Focus
The Society and Community Committee focused on social and community services, including the availability and quality of heath care, education, public safety, and arts and culture. The committee’s primary task was to guide the consortium in developing a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (RPSD) that promotes the development or continued delivery of quality social and human services and support for culturally vibrant communities.
PlanSmart NJ led the Society and Community Committee, together with Rutgers University (RU) and Building One New Jersey (BONJ).
To see the leadership team, and the full list of participating members, visit the committee participation list.
The committee organized its work according to the topics listed below. Its first task was to prepare reports assessing regional conditions for each topic:
- Health and Safety (RU- Lead): This topic addresses Public Safety and Conditions; Exposure to Environmental and Human Health Hazards and Disparities; Healthy Lifestyle Resources and Options; and Health Outcomes. The report identifies areas of high concentration of environmental hazards, the populations impacted by them and public health implications. Access to fresh food, recreational facilities, parks and open space are also covered and analyzed on a regional scale.
- Education (BONJ-Lead): This topic addresses Educational Attainment and Disparities and Primary/Secondary/Post Secondary Education Resources and Performance. A regional snapshot incorporates public school quality in terms of graduation rates, proficiency, student/teacher ratio, educational level of faculty, and matriculation rates. The report also evaluates public education policy and spending patterns, investment in higher education, and performance of higher education institutions.
- Arts, Culture and Community (PlanSmart NJ- Lead): This topic addresses arts and culture resources and investment in the region, including historic districts, heritage activities, performing arts facilities, museums, arts-related businesses and organizations, and arts and cultural events held at public venues. The assessment includes arts and culture participation, funding, and community resources. Additionally, this topic gauges the level of civic engagement at the community level by measuring voter turnout, youth involvement, volunteerism and charitable contributions.
The role of the committee was to review existing baseline conditions; review existing planning goals, outcomes, and metrics and supplement as needed; provide comments and revisions to draft documents; and make policy recommendations and advocate for effective implementation of the Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (RPSD). Committee members serve as advocates for the issue areas covered by the committee and work to advance these issues in their own work and programs.