DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, May 16, 2017— The District of Columbia was recently awarded a $60,000 Partners for Places Equity Pilot Initiative grant to infuse equity into the planning and implementation of the Climate Ready DC, Clean Energy DC, and Sustainable DC plans. Thanks to matching grant funders through Partners for Places, The Prince Charitable Trusts and the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, a total of $120,000 will be invested in climate planning in the District.
The District will use this funding to develop strategies to increase resilience of neighborhoods along Watts Branch, one of the areas of the city most vulnerable to flooding. Watts Branch provides a unique opportunity to pilot this community-driven process, thanks to other ongoing climate resiliency initiatives in the area, including a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood-risk study and the work of the Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative (APACC).
The project funds will be used to create a community Equity Advisory Group (EAG) that will guide the development of climate resilience strategies with express consideration of equity and social cohesion. The EAG will consist of a demographically representative group of residents from the Watts Branch area who will receive training as well as financial and technical support. The District will also utilize an equity and engagement consultant, a separate equity auditor, and will partner with the Georgetown Climate Center (GCC) at the Georgetown University Law Center. The EAG, along with this team of equity and resiliency consultants, will help shape and evaluate the planning process.
The goal of this initiative is to create a model for project design and authentic community engagement that can be replicated in future planning efforts in the District. The outcomes of this project will also be used to help inform some of the strategies and efforts associated with the District’s participation in 100 Resilient Cities.
The District is just one of seven recipients to join a cohort of North American cities that are developing local approaches for prioritizing equity in sustainability and climate action through the Partners for Places Equity Pilot Initiative. This two-year pilot program is supported by the generosity of The Kendeda Fund and The Kresge Foundation.
“Low-income communities and people of color are disproportionately harmed by environmental hazards and the effects of climate change,” said Diane Ives, fund advisor for The Kendeda Fund’s People, Place and Planet program. “We need to put equity at the heart of community-based sustainability efforts to ensure that everyone has a chance to live in a vibrant, healthy, resilient community regardless of their zip code.”