California Resilience Challenge Announces Statewide Competition for Climate Adaptation Projects

The Bay Area Council today launched the official request for proposals for the “California Resilience Challenge” — a $2 million statewide competition to support innovative projects that address climate change-related threats and help safeguard the state against wildfire, drought, flood and extreme heat events. Recipients will receive grant awards of up to $200,000 for climate adaptation planning projects.

The California Resilience Challenge will provide resources to local communities throughout the state, including cities, counties, California Native American tribes, special districts, and more, that are affected by climate change-related natural disasters. By emphasizing local solutions to the global problem of climate change, communities can create scalable plans and infrastructure to meet their immediate and long-term climate adaptation needs.

“As we work to slow down the pace of climate change we also need to speed up our efforts to protect against the growing impacts California is facing,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The California Resilience Challenge will seed novel ideas and approaches for girding communities against the costly and painful human, environmental and economic impacts of climate change. We’re grateful for the leadership and support of so many partners in making this happen, and we’re excited to see what creative, resourceful and cutting-edge projects emerge from this important competition.”

The launch comes on the opening day of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25), in Madrid, Spain. Since 1995, the COP is a yearly convening of UN Kyoto Protocol signees. Over several days, delegates discuss climate change and its effects on the planet. This year, the COP25 will negotiate new guidelines to mitigate the effects of climate change and reduce ecological damage.

“Climate change is already stressing our water supplies, and its effects will only get more severe,” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, General Manager of the Metropolitan Water District. “Adapting to this new water reality takes an all-of-the-above approach – conserving, recycling, storing water, as well as reinvesting in our imported supplies, and more. While this has been Metropolitan’s strategy for years, the Resilience Challenge will produce new and creative ways to diversify supplies and prepare for a changed climate. We’re eager to learn from the results.”

California’s recent drought was one of the state’s most severe on record, and 2017 was the hottest summer ever recorded in California. By contrast, the winter of 2017-2018 was the wettest year on record for Northern California, and disrupted the lives of over 250,000 residents who were forced to evacuate due to storm-related damages to water infrastructure.

Climate change is costly, wiping out investments, assets, and damaging livelihoods. California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment found that rising temperatures could cause up to 11,300 more heat-related deaths annually across California and cost the state up to $50 billion a year by midcentury.

Communities throughout the state are at risk of experiencing major climate change-related weather events, such as drought, wildfire, flooding and extreme heat. The negative impacts of climate change on California communities stands to undermine California’s efforts to maximize energy efficiency and reduce emissions. The business, utility, and nonprofit communities are eager to support the resilience and sustainability of local communities.

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, nonprofits, and philanthropies who all contributed resources to establish the initiative. The Board of Directors include representatives from JPMorgan Chase, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, PG&E, Resources Legacy Fund, Southern California Edison, and Valley Water.

Additional sponsors include Alaska Airlines—the official airline sponsor of the California Resilience Challenge—as well as Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. The RFP was developed in partnership with companies and non-profits serving on the Resilience Challenge Advisory Committee, including AECOM, Ceres, Climate Resolve, Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conversancy, and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

What Leaders Are Saying

“As a founding supporter of the California Resilience Challenge, Alaska Airlines is proud of our long-standing service to the state, one with rich diversity and an inherent innovation mindset,” said Annabel Chang, Alaska Airlines’ Vice President of the Bay Area. “We are at a unique inflection point in the world’s history and this pioneering program offers an opportunity for cross-sectional collaboration to enact positive environmental change for generations to come.”

“JPMorgan Chase is proud to support the California Resilience Challenge. As climate change continues to present risks for business and communities across California, we must all be a part of the solution. We are excited to support the implementation of new climate resilience projects through this initiative,” said Kari Decker, Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility of JPMorgan Chase.

“We are already seeing the impacts of climate change in California,” said Chris Benjamin, Director of Corporate Sustainability at PG&E. “PG&E is going beyond managing risk through our operations by investing in new and innovative climate resilience plans. We want to encourage communities throughout California to apply to the Resilience Challenge and help build a more sustainable future.”

“The California Resilience Challenge is an important opportunity for California leaders to invest in community resilience,” said Matthew Armsby, Vice President for Policy at Resources Legacy Fund. “We look forward to seeing proposals for creative and collaborative projects that help all Californians, particularly our most vulnerable communities, address growing threats from fire, drought, heat, and flooding.”

“We applaud the launch of the California Resilience Challenge,” said Norma Camacho, Chief Executive Officer of Valley Water. “More than ever, communities are in need of resources to create the infrastructure that will protect their homes and families from the effects of climate change. This initiative is a step in the right direction.”

“With climate change impacts increasing, many of the communities SCE serves are at-risk for extreme weather events,” said Chris Thompson, Vice President of Local Public Affairs of Southern California Edison. The Resilience Challenge will provide local governments and communities across the state with opportunities to prepare for and respond to extreme events, while building community resilience to climate change.”

“The time to act is now,” said Claire Bonham-Carter, of AECOM. “Climate change will continue to impact the livability of thousands of communities in California. The California Resilience Challenge will help progress equitable climate adaptation planning, by providing resources to innovative projects in local communities most in need. AECOM will be there to support applicants through the application process.”

“Companies know that addressing climate change is a business imperative.” said Jennifer Helfrich, Senior Manager of State Policy at Ceres, a leading sustainability non-profit organization. “Major investors and companies in California have set ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest in clean technologies. The California Resilience Challenge will help test innovative approaches to mitigate and adapt to some of the state’s major climate risks—such as wildfire and drought. As leaders in the private sector know, mitigating these risks is crucial to long-term economic prosperity.”

“We need all of California’s institutions on-board to improve resiliency outcomes for California,” said Jonathan Parfrey, Executive Director and Founder of Climate Resolve. “It really requires a concerted effort, and the California Resilience Challenge is just that. Climate Resolve is proud to join with other nonprofit organizations and businesses to support communities in need.”

“Environmental Defense Fund understands the value of coalition-building,” said Ann Hayden, Senior Director of Environmental Defense Fund. “The California Resilience Challenge demonstrates that in the face of climate change, we are stronger when we work together. We look forward to supporting the implementation of projects that will improve the health and safety of California communities affected by climate change.”

“The impacts of climate change on human and natural communities in California are far reaching,” said Michelle Passero, Director of Climate Policy at The Nature Conservancy. “The California Resilience Challenge will help catalyze much-needed community planning and action to build climate resilience using nature-based strategies. The Nature Conservancy is proud to contribute to this collaborative effort.”

“Pillsbury applauds the California Resilience Challenge and its efforts to make climate adaptation planning accessible to diverse local communities,” said Rob James, Partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. “We look forward to facilitating the development, entitlement, and financing of resilient infrastructure throughout the state. This is an excellent way to give back to the communities we serve.”

Communities in Need

Responses to the RFP are due by 5:00pm, February 7, 2020.

The RFP can be found here

The California Resilience Challenge will be hosting a meeting at the Bay Area Council in San Francisco on Friday, December 13 from 10:00am to 11:30am to walkthrough the RFP. Interested participants may dial-in. Please visit here for more details.

California Resilience Challenge Contact

Adrian Covert

Vice President, Public Policy

Bay Area Council

(cc: Amari Cowan –

Subscribe to The Weekly Flash Subscribe
News and Guts Search Menu Left Angle Up Angle Down Angle Right Angle Left Arrow Right Arrow Email User Play Pause Fullscreen Exit Fullscreen Unmute Mute Close Loading Gallery Arrow Gallery Youtube Facebook Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn Pinterest Google + Flickr Yelp Trip Advisor