|CEI Official Mission as Defined in the Certificate of Incorporation
- To collect, collage, assemble, develop, retain and organize information, written, oral or otherwise, concerning and about ecology and the environment, and actions, programs, and development which affect ecology and the environment, which information shall be made available to individuals, groups, agencies, bodies and organizations, public and private;
- To provide a forum for exchange of ideas, information and objectives concerning environmental subjects;
- To facilitate and activate interest and involvement by individual citizens and organizations toward attaining and maintaining the highest environmental quality:
- To disseminate information concerning the environment by means of periodic publications and meetings when appropriate,
CEI MISSION STATEMENT
The Center for Environmental Information, Inc. (CEI) is a private, nonprofit, education organization, founded in Rochester, New York, in 1974. CEI provides information and communication services, publications, and educational programs in order to:
- advance public understanding of environmental issues;
- act as a communication link among scientists, educators, decision makers and the public;
- advocate informed action based on the free exchange of information and ideas.
From 1974-1999 CEI has responded to 65,000 information queries, produced nearly 500 issues of publications and enrolled 17,000 persons in educational programs, Hundreds of individuals have served as volunteers, the Board of Directors at one point (1992) numbered 30 and the staff at that time numbered 13 full and part time, totaling about 9 full time equivalent.
The organization was founded in response to a N.Y. State Senate committee hearing in Rochester in 1973 soliciting public comment from a range of groups in the region about needs for environmental education. The main finding of the hearing was that the region, despite a variety of new initiatives by many different groups (e.g., Girl Scouts, Chamber of Commerce, Monroe County EMC), lacked a central "clearinghouse" for environmental information, one that could communicate among the groups, disseminate information about their activities, and also provide credible reference and referral services to the public on environmental matters.
CEI was originally organized as a "membership" of nearly 50 local/regional groups and a monthly environmental newspaper, funded by the EMC, served as the communication link at a time when information about the environment was few and far between in local publications. After 3 years CEI evolved into an individual and corporate membership organization which peaked at a membership of about 700 plus in the, late 80's CEI has had a very high renewal rate for membership and subscriptions (averaging 80-85%) with a loyal core, but very little outreach to new members since the membership peak.
Information services, with inquiries by phone, letter and visitation to the library, peaked at about 2500 requests annually in the early 90's and ranged from responses that took anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more to research. Before the Internet, this level of information queries was about 10% of what EPA was then receiving annually at its environmental information service. The library grew mainly as a result of donations of books, reports, and documents of various kinds to a collection of over 10,000 shelved items. In addition the library subscribed to or received complimentary copies of over 100 publications, and was the one location in the area where these current periodicals were available and where the contents of individual articles were identified and kept on a data base by subject category. CEI's vertical files include clippings and other information on Rochester's environmental history since the mid 70's on every conceivable and topic and organization. Its "annual" directory of environmental organizations and agencies in the Rochester region lists over 350 groups.
Financial support gradually grew to about $600,000 annual income in 1991, largely with funding from outside the region. Local/Regional funding sources have provided between $50,000 and $80,000 annually. The overhead from outside sources, federal and state agencies and private sector donors, and from subscriptions revenues for two national/international publications on acid rain and climate change, has largely supported the local services which traditionally had 3 to 4 full time equivalent staff assigned, Currently, CEI has eliminated all debts and receives income from a small endowment at RACF valued at about $58,000. Its 2001 revenue is projected to be about $120,000, with about two thirds of that amount coming from outside sources associated with organization of a national acid rain conference.