Resilience AmeriCorps Announces Ten Cities for Its Pilot Program to Support Communities in Building Capacity and Technical Support for Climate Resilience
Building on the President’s Climate Action Plan, the Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS) and Federal partners, along with The Rockefeller Foundation and Cities of Service, today announced the selection of ten Resilience AmeriCorps cities. Today’s announcement responds to a recommendation made by the President’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to enhance commitments to building resilience in vulnerable communities disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change – many of which are already facing economic or health-related challenges.
CNCS, the federal agency which administers AmeriCorps, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — with additional guidance and support from The Rockefeller Foundation, and programmatic implementation through partnership with Cities of Service to drive long-term outcomes– announced the creation of the first-ever Resilience AmeriCorps in July. The two-year pilot program will recruit, train, and embed AmeriCorps VISTA members in ten communities across the country to increase civic engagement and community resilience in low-income areas, and help those communities develop plans for becoming more resilient to any number of shocks and stresses, including better preparations for extreme weather events.Today, CNCS and partners, The Rockefeller Foundation and Cities of Service, announced the selection of ten Resilience AmeriCorps cities:
- Anchorage, Alaska
- Boulder, Colorado
- Chicago, Illinois
- El Paso, Texas
- Minot, North Dakota
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Norfolk, Virginia
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Tulsa, Oklahoma
Anchorage, AK: Not only does Anchorage face a host of stressors that other urban areas experience, but its location means the city must also contend with high costs for food and energy. Through this project, Resilience AmeriCorps members will work with leaders in the Mayor’s office on projects dedicated to increasing the energy efficiency of Anchorage’s aging housing stock, enhancing energy grid resilience through microgrid development, and encouraging more local food production.
Boulder, CO: Boulder faces significant threats of wildfires and flooding. Resilience AmeriCorps efforts in Boulder will support the city’s Chief Resilience Officer with efforts focused on establishing a sustainable corps of volunteer community first responders who can provide support to their neighbors during a disaster. In addition, they will serve as points of contact for rapidly assessing impacts and mobilizing resources to support professional responders in times of crisis.
Chicago, IL: Chicago’s major resilience challenges include infrastructure failure, flooding, and blizzards. Through Resilience AmeriCorps, the city will develop a resilience plan that expands engagement, resources, and infrastructure to reach the city’s vulnerable populations. The AmeriCorps members’ work will be concentrated in areas of high risk of storm water damage and income inequality.
El Paso, TX: El Paso faces environmental challenges due in large part to flooding from intense storms and extreme high and low temperatures. AmeriCorps VISTA members will work with residents in low-lying, lower-income neighborhoods most prone to flooding. AmeriCorps members will work with community groups, neighborhood organizations, businesses, and residents to train leaders, create emergency response processes and toolkits, and establish information distribution protocols and programs for engaging everyday citizens.
Minot, ND: Minot experiences a number of challenges, ranging from flooding to fires and more. Minot will employ AmeriCorps members to develop networks of communication, including workshops and trainings, to engage and inform community members about resilience issues. AmeriCorps members will also deploy citizen volunteers to reduce blight, create an Evacuteer program, and fundraise and manage new parks and greenways that may be created as part of their ongoing flood mitigation strategy.
New Orleans, LA: In addition to the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, the city has weathered Hurricanes Rita, Ike, Gustav, and Isaac, while facing climate change challenges, wetland loss, land subsidence, and inequality. New Orleans will deploy AmeriCorps VISTA members in neighborhoods with both high environmental risk and high percentages of poverty to execute initiatives and engage the public in the discussions and necessary volunteer efforts in order to achieve maximum impact.
Norfolk, VA: Norfolk experiences periodic flooding due to land subsidence and sea level rise, and increasing frequency and severity of storms. AmeriCorps VISTA members will work with the Chief Resilience Officer to help implement and expand two of the city’s existing efforts to support continuity of critical services for vulnerable residents. AmeriCorps VISTA members will also play a role in expanding asset mapping in vulnerable populations, and implementing recommendations from the Mayor’s Poverty Commission.
Phoenix, AZ: Phoenix has experienced flash floods from rainfall coupled with extreme, record breaking heat. AmeriCorps members will engage vulnerable communities in the city’s climate resilience planning and implementation. They will also lead volunteers to survey the selected communities to determine vulnerability, needs, and capacity related to climate change and other environmental challenges.
Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh often suffers from severe rain events, which lead to frequent sewer overflows and heat. AmeriCorps members will be deployed to strengthen community outreach during the resilience planning process and to develop communications materials, content, tools and resources in order to facilitate resilience initiatives, track indicators, and keep stakeholders informed.
Tulsa, OK: Tulsa frequently experiences high wind events, flooding, winter storms and pollution. AmeriCorps VISTA members will work closely with the city leadership to help develop Tulsa’s broader resilience strategy and increase local capacity for resilience work. Additionally, AmeriCorps members will work to develop networks of communication, including workshops and trainings, to inform community members about resilience issues and to engage them in volunteer opportunities that support the planning and implementation of resilience initiatives.
Federal Agency Tools and Support for Resilience AmeriCorps
Service and Civic Participation. CNCS administers Resilience AmeriCorps. CNCS works to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic participation through service and volunteering. National service can provide immediate and long term benefits by expanding individual opportunity and creating more sustainable, resilient communities. AmeriCorps members also earn money for college as they help communities address their most pressing challenges.
Improving Electric Reliability and Resilience. The Department of Energy’s partnership in Resilience AmeriCorps will allow communities to better prepare for future extreme weather events and keep the nation moving toward a clean energy future. Communities that will develop and implement microgrid technologies through the assistance of Resilience AmeriCorps will have improved electrical reliability and resilience, as they will have a more flexible electric grid that is able to adjust to power disturbances.
Providing Better Support to Communities. Resilience AmeriCorps supports the Administration’s community-level approach for climate resilience by aligning with EPA’s Making a Visible Difference in Communities program. EPA is focused on providing better support to communities, especially in environmentally overburdened, underserved, and economically distressed areas where the needs are greatest. Resilience AmeriCorps supports EPA’s efforts to coordinate technical assistance and other resources to support communities as they pursue environmental improvements that enhance economic opportunity and quality of life.
Making Federal Tools and Training More Accessible. Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA members will facilitate the use of federal tools, such as those available through the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, to assess risk and counter the effects of extreme weather events and other climate-related impacts on communities and vulnerable populations, including low-income residents. NOAA’s partnership in curriculum development, building coastal resilience capacity, and training allows AmeriCorps VISTA members to provide feedback to the agency, ultimately improving the utility and accessibility of federal tools to local communities. NOAA will lead the federal inter-agency partnership in curriculum development, building coastal resilience capacity, and training and ensure VISTA members provide feedback to the agencies, ultimately improving the utility and accessibility of federal tools to local communities.
Fostering Greater Community Resilience. The Resilience AmeriCorps program will help communities identify and prepare for climate-related risks by developing community preparedness plans. AmeriCorps VISTA members will help local leaders as they plan for and address the impacts of extreme weather events while helping local governments and communities develop the programs, relationships, and capacity needed to catalyze change to support greater community resilience. The public-private partnership was announced last month, along with a set of other new actions announced by the Obama Administration to support vulnerable communities in preparing for the impacts of climate change.
More on Allied Partners
AmeriCorps VISTA, is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. Nearly 8,000 Americans serve as AmeriCorps VISTA members each year, building the capacity of nonprofit organizations and local government agencies to fight poverty.
The Rockefeller Foundation. For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today, The Rockefeller Foundation pursues this mission through dual goals: advancing inclusive economies that expand opportunities for more broadly shared prosperity, and building resilience by helping people, communities and institutions prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses. To achieve these goals, The Rockefeller Foundation works at the intersection of four focus areas – advance health, revalue ecosystems, secure livelihoods, and transform cities – to address the root causes of emerging challenges and create systemic change. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations and create unlikely partnerships that span sectors.
Cities of Service. As the Resilience AmeriCorps Project Sponsor, Cities of Service serves as the implementing partner of Resilience AmeriCorps. A national nonprofit organization, Cities of Service supports a nonpartisan coalition of mayors and city chief executives to engage local communities and residents to tackle issues and solve problems together using impact volunteering. The organization works with cities to help them establish and build city-led, citizen-powered programs that target specific needs and achieve measurable outcomes. Cities of Service will provide programmatic support and individualized technical assistance to city halls and VISTA members in order to drive long-term, positive outcomes that ensure environmental and community resilience in the Resilience AmeriCorps cities.
Cities of Service’s work is made possible with generous funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies.