Expanding opportunities in America’s cities
Climate Resilient and Equitable Water Systems An initiative to transform urban stormwater and wastewater systems so they provide reliable, equitable and innovative services to communities despite the uncertainties introduced by climate change

Climate change already is affecting water supply and management systems.  Changes in the timing, frequency and intensity of precipitation are placing stress on the built and natural systems that provide fresh water, manage stormwater, and treat wastewater. Flooding is an issue of particular concern for urban, low-income communities, where degraded water quality, threats to public health, destruction of homes and property and economic harm occur disproportionately. We seek to advance a water equity agenda that advances solutions to climate-related flood and storm impacts on water systems and enhances local climate-resilience planning that supports integrated water-management practices.

We work to:

  • Support and nurture a new cadre of water leaders to amplify marginalized voices and strengthen climate-vulnerable regions and water systems.

  • Build the case and enabling environment for  equitable water system transformation.

  • Advance non-traditional approaches to financing, operations and community participation that produce multiple community benefits.

About CREWS The Climate Resilient and Equitable Water Systems (CREWS) consists of 24 nonprofits working to advance equitable solutions to climate-related storm and flood impacts on low-income communities in U.S. cities. Many of the partner nonprofits work on CREWS projects in multiple locations across the nation.
American Rivers
Washington, D.C.
American Rivers works with city leaders, community organizations, regulatory agencies and service providers to improve urban resilience to climate change and through integrated water management and the promotion of green infrastructure.
Anthropocene Alliance
Chicago, Illinois
The Anthropocene Alliance educates and organizes low-income residents and businesses impacted by urban flooding – particularly in African American and Latino communities – to combat climate change, increase investments in resilience and positively influence policymakers.
Carpe Diem West
Sausalito, California
Carpe Diem West leads a network of water leaders catalyzing innovative, equitable, just and sustainable responses to water crises and the climate changes in the American West.
Center for Neighborhood Technology
Chicago, Illinois
The center is committed to improving cities’ economic and environmental sustainability, resilience, and quality of life. This grant supports research to document the impact of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) on property values across U.S. cities. Unlike traditional physical infrastructure to manage flooding (i.e., sewers, drains, concrete containment units), GSI incorporates an interconnected network of open spaces and natural areas, such as greenways, wetlands, parks and native plant vegetation that naturally manage stormwater. GSI usually costs less to install and maintain when compared to traditional forms of infrastructure
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Annapolis, Maryland
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation engages municipal leaders, with a pilot program starting in Baltimore, about green stormwater infrastructure and environmental impact bonds to promote infrastructure such as rain gardens, green roofs and permeable pavement to mitigate flooding, reduce storm water pollution, improve air quality and build climate resilience.
Clean Water for All Campaign
Merrifield, Virginia
The National Wildlife Federation, through support of the Clean Water for All Campaign, works to create policy plans for multiple clean-water and infrastructure funding mechanisms, and to strengthen the participation of environmental and social justice groups in the national Clean Water for All Campaign.
Council of Michigan Foundations
Detroit, Michigan
This grant supports the Great Lakes One Water Partnership (Partnership), an initiative that taps the convening power of community foundations to increase regional collaboration on pressing water management challenges in the Great Lakes region. Twenty-eight shoreline community foundations have formed six regional teams of partner organizations, including municipal governments, water departments, universities, nonprofit organizations, indigenous peoples, and advocacy groups, to address water management challenges affecting communities along Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, Lake Superior/UP region, and Lower and Upper Lake Michigan. Each regional team will develop an action plan for addressing priority water challenges in its geographic area, including issues such as flood prevention, use of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), climate adaptation, and meeting the needs of underserved and disenfranchised communities. teams, understand and act on innovative water management policies and approaches, including use of GSI; and communities proactively incorporate climate change into their water management approaches. This grant is consistent with the CREWS strategy to strengthen urban leadership on water management.
Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Inc.
News Orleans, Louisiana
Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Inc. spearheaded a planning process across five Gulf Coast cities to ensure water management decisions meet the needs of communities who are low-income, vulnerable to climate-related flooding and face other environmental threats to public health.
Earth Economics
Tacoma, Washington
Earth Economics works to provide science-based, ecologically sound economic analysis in partnership with community organizations and local and federal agencies to increase the financial viability and acceptance of green infrastructure and climate resilience projects.
Fair Share Housing Center
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
The Fair Share Housing Center helps to ensure the fair distribution of disaster-recovery funds for water infrastructure investments and climate resiliency in areas impacted by severe flooding in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
Freshwater Future
Petoskey, Michigan
Freshwater Future engages Great Lakes community-based groups in the Clean Water For All Campaign, which brings together national, regional, and local advocates from diverse backgrounds to defend and, where possible, strengthen federal protections and funding for clean water protection in the U.S.
The Funders Network
Coral Gables, Florida
The Urban Water Funders Group (UWFG), a topical working group of The Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities helps connect and align funders to take action in exploring the role of water in urban settings and how it can benefit the environment and advance equity and the economies of communities. UWFG also works with other TFN member foundations to co-invest in green stormwater infrastructure partnership projects through the Partners for Places grant program, a program that provides two-year grants for cities to implement urban sustainability projects with support from local, place-based foundations matched by national foundations. This grant from Kresge will support the core functions of the UWFG ($20,000) and one or more place-based green stormwater infrastructure projects through the P4P program ($100,000). This work will help advance nontraditional approaches to urban stormwater management addressing climate resilience and equity, which is strongly aligned with our Climate Resilience and Equitable Water Systems strategy.
The Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities Inc.
Coral Gables, Florida
This grant supports the Urban Water Funders Group (UWFG), a topical working group of The Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities (TFN). The UWFG helps connect and align funders to take action in exploring the role of water in urban settings and how it can benefit the environment and advance equity and the economies of communities. UWFG also works with other TFN member foundations to co-invest in green stormwater infrastructure partnership projects through the Partners for Places grant program, a program that provides two-year grants for cities to implement urban sustainability projects with support from local, place-based foundations matched by national foundations. This grant from Kresge will support the core functions of the UWFG and one or more place-based green stormwater infrastructure projects through the P4P program.
Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange
Chicago, Illinois
The Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange coordinates a peer-learning network for municipal utility managers who are responsible for the design, implementation and management of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) systems.
Green Latinos
Washington, D.C.
GreenLatinos works to strengthen the participation of Latino advocacy groups in the national Clean Water for All Campaign, which brings together national, regional and local advocates from diverse backgrounds to defend and, where possible, strengthen federal protections and funding for clean water in the United States.
Greenprint Partners
Chicago, Illinois
GreenPrint Partners helps guide cities to develop and finance community-focused turnkey green infrastructure projects from start to finish, intentionally engaging the community through the entire planning and implementation process.
Groundworks USA
Yonkers, New York
Groundworks USA will develop and implement strategies to address urban flooding and other climate risks faced by low- and moderate-income communities in five geographies served by local Groundwork Trusts: Denver, Colorado; Elizabeth, New Jersey; Rhode Island; Richmond, California; and Richmond, Virginia. Each trust will (1) conduct climate vulnerability mapping to understand the connections between urban flooding, urban heat islands and historical racism; (2) identify solutions through community-based engagement and alignment of stakeholders around a common agenda and implementation strategy; and (3) incorporate climate equity into local plans, policies and investments.
Hip Hop Caucus
Washington, D.C.
The Hip Hop Caucus strengthens the participation of community cultural leaders in the national Clean Water for All Campaign, which brings together national, regional and local advocates from diverse backgrounds to defend and, where possible, strengthen federal protections and funding for clean water in the United States.
Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation
Culver City, California
This grant supported travel and lodging subsidies for community water leaders to attend The Water Pavilion (TWP), an official affiliate event of the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) that occurred September 12-14, 2018, in San Francisco. As a result of TWP, we expect (1) climate resiliency issues related to water will be elevated and integrated into GCAS commitments and (2) a change in the trend of front-line community voices being left out of international and domestic policy discussion and development.
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Washington, D.C.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) will establish a public-private partnership that will address threats to community resilience at a regional scale through a competitive grant program. The Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund (the Fund) will help increase the resilience of communities by reducing the impact of stormwater, enhancing habitat and the accessibility and usability of green space. In this region, stormwater runoff and associated urban flooding, water quality degradation, and limited safe public access to waterways and green space continue to threaten the community, economic and ecological values. NFWF will plan, execute and coordinate a strategic funder collaboration and grant program that will award grants to non-governmental organizations and community organizations in two categories: (1) expanding green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) and enhancing public space, and (2) improving habitat quality, connectivity and accessibility.
The Nature Conservancy (Detroit)
Detroit, Michigan
The Nature Conservancy is conducting a feasibility study for a watershed improvement district (WID) in Detroit’s Eastern Market district to identify the elements necessary to make green infrastructure coupled with neighborhood revitalization viable in other Detroit neighborhoods.
The Nature Conservancy (National)
Arlington, Virginia
This grant provides support to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to identify candidate cities and regions with climate-vulnerable communities that both are exposed to significant flooding and have enabling conditions likely to favor proactive, collaborative approaches to mitigate risk and build resilience. TNC will develop a rigorous and comprehensive set of spatial data that describe current and future flood risks, the impacts on asset values (i.e., buildings, insurance), and key variables of social vulnerability (e.g., age, primary spoken language) for the United States; and conduct an opportunity analysis to identify approximately 20 cities that have the strongest enabling conditions to implement a collaborative water management resiliency project with municipal and community partners. The outcomes of this analysis will provide local municipalities and the residents of these flood-prone communities with a set of products that will increase the level of planning and advocacy to launch the next generation of climate-resilient and equitable water systems projects.
One Voice
Jackson, Mississippi
One Voice conducts research to understand how federal and state funding to implement sustainable water, sewer and waste water infrastructure projects has been allocated among affluent vs. high-poverty, climate-vulnerable cities in six southern states.
PolicyLink
Washington, D.C.
PolicyLink is developing a national climate resilience and water-equity caucus representing a shared set of principles, strategies, and activities that will enable low-income communities and communities of color to act powerfully together.
Re:Focus Partners
San Diego, California
Re:Focus Partners, llc is developing integrated resilience solutions and innovative public-private partnerships to support climate vulnerable communities experiencing flooding by providing technical assistance in six small- to medium-sized cities to identify, address and overcome barriers to promote innovative and climate-resilient solutions for water infrastructure. The cities are: Camden, New Jersey; El Paso, Texas; Gary, Indiana; Imperial Beach, California; Providence, Rhode Island; Anchorage, Alaska; and Norfolk, Virginia.
The River Network
Boulder, Colorado
This grant will support the Urban Waters Learning Network (the Network) to build resources and provide learning opportunities to foster community driven urban water management. The Network seeks to catalyze broader societal change by building literacy around water equity and equipping communities with tools to advocate for their interests in urban water resource management. Assistance from The Kresge Foundation will allow the Network to enhance the resources it provides by expanding virtual and in-person learning opportunities for its members around multiple topics, including integrated water management, climate resilience, and equity. Support will enable the creation of two successive Learning Exchange Cohorts for approximately five groups to last for 18-month periods.
Southeast Sustainability Directors Network
Knoxville, Tennessee
The Southeast Sustainability Directors Network works to accelerate the adoption of best practices to create climate-resilient, equitable water systems. It supports the Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund (SSCF), which provides grants to cities in the southeastern U.S. to advance climate adaptation and social equity in local government policy, plans and/or programs.
Trust for Public Land
San Francisco, California
The Trust for Public Land has designed an arts and culture-infused, multiple-benefit green infrastructure pilot program that builds climate resilience and has positive impacts on public health, in three demonstration cities: New Orleans, Louisiana; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Richmond, California.
US Water Alliance
Washington, D.C.
The US Water Alliance aligns a diverse set of stakeholders – which includes major water utilities, public officials, the private sector, environmental organizations, community leaders, policy organizations, and regulators – to secure a sustainable water future for all communities.

2018 CREWS Convening

Attendees at the 2018 Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity grantee convening

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  • They lost their homes to flooding and became advocates. #HigherGround @kresgenviro @RisingHorry @Peoples_Climate

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