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Kresge Foundation Awards $100,000 to Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts

SPRINGFIELD — The Kresge Foundation awarded the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts a $100,000 grant to advance policy solutions aimed at improving climate resilience and equitably reducing health risks in low-income communities. The Springfield Climate Justice Initiative, a new project of the Live Well Springfield coalition convened by the Public Health Institute, is one of 15 community-based collaborations nationwide receiving grant funding as part of the planning phase of Kresge’s Climate Change, Health and Equity initiative.

The Springfield Climate Justice Initiative will focus on planning and implementing strategies identified in the 2017 “Strong, Healthy, & Just: Springfield Climate Action & Resilience Plan” for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and improving climate resilience in Springfield. The planning will focus on developing front-line residents’ capacity to accelerate municipal action on the top greenhouse-gas emissions reduction strategies included in the Climate Action Plan.

With this funding, the collaborators who worked together to develop the city’s “Strong, Healthy & Just” plan — the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Arise for Social Justice, and the city of Springfield — will work with partners from other sectors to develop multi-year work plans to address community-defined health and climate priorities. New partners in this Live Well Springfield initiative are Way Finders, Ener-G-Save, and the city of Springfield’s new sustainability coordinator. Specific activities will include building the capacity of residents and stakeholders related to climate action and its health-equity impacts, conducting additional research to rank and prioritize climate actions, and identifying the health-equity impacts of proposed actions.

“With a 10-year opportunity to avert the worst consequences of our climate crisis, this grant will give us the opportunity to build, nurture, and develop community leadership and advocacy to accelerate implementation of the city’s 2017 climate plan,” said Jessica Collins, executive director of the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts.

Lois DeBacker, managing director of the foundation’s Environment Program, added that “climate change is impacting people in real ways — today. The good news is that community leaders across the country are making smart choices about how they can combat climate change while improving people’s lives and well-being. Our newly awarded grants will help more communities proactively tackle the health risks that climate change introduces or exacerbate.”

Following the one-year planning phase, Kresge will award multi-year grants to up to 12 planning grant recipients. The organizations will be supported by the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), which serves as the national program office for the planning phase of the community-based strategy of the Climate Change, Health & Equity initiative. ISC’s mission is to help communities around the world address environmental, economic, and social challenges to build a better future.

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