California Resilience Challenge Winners Announced

Today (Feb. 28) the California Resilience Challenge, an initiative of the Bay Area Council Foundation, announced the 13 winners of its $2 million 2021 grant program. The 13 winning projects will help under-resourced communities across California prepare for droughts, wildfires, floods, and extreme heat events made more severe by climate change and represent some of the world’s most advanced thinking in climate adaptation. The winners will be announced and briefly present their projects at a live-streamed reception February 28 at 6:15pm PT at the California Academy of Sciences.

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 “As we work to slow the pace of climate change, we also need to speed our efforts to protect against the growing impacts California is facing,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “With these 13 winning projects, the California Resilience Challenge is helping seed novel ideas and approaches to shield vulnerable communities from the costly environmental and economic impacts of climate change. We’re grateful for the leadership and support of our many partners and look forward to continuing this important work.”

The 13 winning projects represent communities across California and include cities, counties, community non-profits, and California Native American Tribes. Winning proposals had to address criteria developed by the Resilience Challenge Steering Committee in tandem with the Resilience Challenge Advisory Committee, including geographic diversity, support for frontline communities, and replicability. From sustainable and affordable housing in the North Coast, to drought resilience in the San Joaquin Valley, to wildfire preparedness in California’s forests, these projects showcase some of the world’s most innovative thinking on climate resilience.

The California Resilience Challenge is an initiative of the Bay Area Council Foundation, and is supported by a diverse group of stakeholders, including businesses, utilities, and nonprofits who all contributed resources to establish the initiative. The California Resilience Challenge 2021 Steering Committee includes representatives from JPMorgan Chase, Kaiser Permanente, Wells Fargo, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, PG&E, Resources Legacy Fund, Southern California Edison, and Valley Water. Additional sponsors include Wareham Development Group, LinkedIn, CSAA Insurance, and Bank of America.

What Leaders Are Saying

“Today, we celebrate community leaders who are bringing innovative climate resilience solutions to diverse communities across California. Their commitment to address environmental sustainability issues for communities at greater risk of recovery from climate-related disasters is commendable,” said Allen Fernandez Smith, Head of Global Philanthropy for the West Region at JPMorgan Chase. “We’re proud to support the California Resilience Challenge and inspire local community collaboratives actively building and preserving a better future for us all.”

“Kaiser Permanente is committed to equitable health for all and addressing climate change is critical to realizing that,” said John Vu, Vice President for Strategy and Community Health at Kaiser Permanente. “We are pleased to support the California Resilience Challenge and applaud innovative solutions to protect vulnerable communities from the impacts of climate change and promote greater health.”

“Helping ensure that communities at the highest risk of the growing impacts of climate change are included and have a voice in local resiliency planning is a key priority at Wells Fargo,” said Mary Wenzel, head of Sustainability and ESG Integration at Wells Fargo. “We are pleased to support the California Resilience Challenge and its efforts to build the capacity of low-income and disproportionally climate-vulnerable communities to participate meaningfully in the development and execution of climate-resiliency and -adaptation strategies.”

“This year’s Resilience Challenge winners demonstrate community leaders’ innovation, care, and commitment to equitable problem solving,” said Matthew Armsby, Vice President for Policy at Resources Legacy Fund. “RLF hopes their work inspires similar action and investment across the state. We are pleased to help support the winning projects, and look forward to their success.”

“Meeting the challenge of climate change is central to PG&E’s long-term vision,” said Chris Benjamin, Director of Corporate Sustainability at PG&E. “Our support for the California Resilience Challenge reflects our broader commitment to work collaboratively to help the communities we serve become more resilient to climate threats.”

“California is contending with a drought emergency that is threatening our state’s water supplies,” said Rick Callender, CEO of Valley Water. “It’s critical that we make investments in water infrastructure and technology that are resilient to climate change. That’s why Valley Water is proud to support the California Resilience Challenge. The grant recipients showed a commitment to developing innovative projects to protect communities from the worsening impacts of climate change. We must create a resilient California for everyone, especially disadvantaged communities who are too often left behind.”

“Today’s drought and the unprecedented dry conditions that are eroding water resources across the state are a blunt reminder that we need to quickly adapt to our already changed climate,” said Adel Hagekhalil, General Manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. “We must work together, as one state, to embrace and expand the bold, innovative ideas represented by these projects.”

“Californians, like the rest of the world, are experiencing the effects of climate change with more frequent and extreme weather” Andrew Baldonado, Managing Director of State Public Affairs at Southern California Edison. “In addition to achieving carbon neutrality by 2045, Southern California Edison is committed to identifying solutions to adapt to our changing environment. By supporting local initiatives, particularly in the most vulnerable communities, the California Resilience Challenge addresses urgent threats while providing strategies that can be replicated in other communities around the state. We are proud to support this important work and congratulate this year’s award winners.”

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