We seek to help communities build resilience in the face of climate change.
The impacts of a changing climate are touching communities in many ways. Coastal areas experience more frequent and more damaging storms. Communities with limited water resources face tighter supplies and tougher questions about the future. Extreme heat presents challenges for public health. And the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions remains urgent.
The problems are complex, but communities that address them will be better prepared for the new circumstances and uncertainty that climate change introduces. Decisions about infrastructure, building design, land use, transportation and other policy and funding issues can make communities stronger and more resilient to the changing climate, or make them more vulnerable.
Our work is intended to help civic leaders consider a two-part climate question as they make decisions that shape the form and function of their communities:
- Does a proposed policy or action have implications – positive or negative – for the severity of climate change? If negative, how will they be addressed?
- Do the expected consequences of climate change affect the viability of a proposed policy or course of action? If so, what should be done differently?
For us, resilience means not just withstanding stresses but the capacity to prosper under a wide range of climate-influenced circumstances. Resilience in the long term is possible only if society reduces greenhouse gas emissions and avoids the worst impacts of climate change.
We believe that strengthening a community’s resilience requires efforts to:
- Reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change
- Plan for the changes that already are underway or anticipated
- Foster social cohesion and inclusion
Our approach to climate resilience incorporates all these elements. We believe that addressing any one of them in isolation can lead to missed opportunities or unintended consequences.
As a foundation committed to creating opportunity for low-income people and communities, we are particularly concerned about the disproportionate effect climate change has on people with limited economic resources. We believe it’s critical to engage people from historically underrepresented groups in efforts to build resilient communities and plan for climate change. We also believe that practitioners in the climate-resilience field can be more effective by learning how to better work with low-income and racially and ethnically diverse communities.
We invest through two primary strategies:
Accelerating place-based innovation
We support efforts that are anchored in cities and have a strong potential to serve as models.
Within our place-based work, we direct our support to:
- Climate resilience in coastal cities and regions
- Climate resilience in low-income communities
- Sustainable water-resources management in a changing climate
- Urban energy resilience
In each of these areas, we seek to foster locally grounded communities of practice. We provide access to supportive technical assistance, applied research and learning opportunities. We endeavor to learn from the work of our grantees and partners and to see those lessons inform the emergent climate-resilience field.
Building the climate-resilience field
We support activities to disseminate and bring to scale promising climate-resilience approaches. Our field-building efforts are driven by the needs of practitioners working in the topical areas we fund under our strategy to accelerate place-based innovation.
How We Work
In all our grantmaking, investment and action, we aim to enable people and institutions to work together to address the climate crisis, with an eye toward innovation, problem-solving and informed risk taking.
We award general operating-support and project-support grants. We also make program-related investments.
- Strive to have a tangible impact on policy and practice
- Favor strategies that cut across sectors and disciplines
- Promote integrated, system-based initiatives
- Engage and empower historically underserved people and communities
- Focus on outcomes that will be achieved
Special Initiative: Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity
We are currently reviewing statements of qualifications from community-based nonprofits positioned to help influence local and regional climate-resilience planning, and related policy development and implementation.
The period for submitting those statements closed at 5 p.m. EDT, July 31, 2014.
We expect to award as many as 20 planning grants to organizations with a record of effective work in low-income communities and an interest in deepening their involvement and leadership in local and/or regional climate-resilience efforts.
Those planning grants will support the development of multiyear work plans detailing ways the organizations will engage in climate-resilience planning, policy development and implementation efforts to advance the priorities and needs of low-income people.
Each nine-month planning grant will provide up to $100,000. Based on the resulting work plan, up to 15 planning-grant recipients will be invited to apply for multiyear project implementation grants.
- Learn more about the initiative in a program update.
- See a primer that provides further detail on the initiative. (PDF)
- See a related fact sheet. (PDF)
The Environment Program team is deeply engaged with the sector and makes every effort to be aware of emerging and ongoing initiatives. We provide some support by inviting by applications.
Who may receive funding?
- U.S.-based 501(c)(3) organizations and their Canadian equivalents
- Government entities
Who will be competitive?
- We award support to organizations whose work aligns closely with our strategies and holds strong promise to bring about positive change.
- We award support to organizations that work nationally, across multiple states or at the regional or statewide level. Projects that are local in scope without clear replication potential rarely are funded.
- The majority of grants and program-related investments are made within the United States. We do not support projects outside of North America.
We do not fund:
- Environmental education programs or the development of curricula.
- Media projects unless they are tightly aligned with our grantmaking strategies and advance the work of our grantees.
- The construction or renovation of facilities or individual renewable-energy installations.
- The acquisition of land, other property or conservation easements for solely land-conservation purposes.
- The costs associated with designing and planning environmentally responsible buildings.
- Primary scientific research.
- Research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
- International projects outside of North America.