Four months after scuttling its short-lived but successful 100 Resilient Cities program, The Rockefeller Foundation announced this week that it will finance a new initiative that will help municipalities around the world develop market-based tools to address climate change-induced problems. The $8 million project, officially the Climate and Resilience initiative, will be lead by former 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) staffers and sustain the work completed with Rockefeller money in 100RC partner cities.Elizabeth Yee, who served as 100RC's Vice President of Resilience Finance for five years, will be joining the Climate and Resilience initiative as the managing director. Before landing at 100RC, she worked in public finance at Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, and Barclays. "Rapid changes in climate are exposing global citizens to unpredictable risks, and there is an increasing need to leverage data and technology to ensure we make informed decisions, and design and deliver solutions that improve the resilience of communities," said Yee in a prepared statement. "Continuing to support the 100RC Network is a core part of our ability to understand and tackle these immense challenges, which require creative, blended capital solutions to address at scale." The Climate and Resilience initiative will facilitate grants for disaster recovery, and will tie into the foundation's long-term work in health, food, energy, and, per the press release, the "expansion of US economic opportunities." Last month CityLab reported that part of the reason for 100RC's dissolution was that The Rockefeller Foundation wanted to drop around $5 or $6 million on the program annually, not the $30 to $40 million it was spending. Beyond money, the foundation didn't quite know how to measure the results of its investments, particularly the Chief Resilience Officers (CROs). The CROs are a network of professionals who oversee resilience capacity-building in member cities' governments whose salaries were paid by 100RC. The Climate and Resilience initiative will continue to cut checks for CROs, but as of now, it is unclear how long the initiative will be funded.
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“In the past three regional plans, design work was crucial to imagining the future of the region and to making that future legible through innovative representations,” said Lewis, associate dean of the Princeton University School of Architecture, in a prepared statement. “From Hugh Ferriss’s atmospheric renderings to Rai Okamoto’s access diagrams, RPA’s plans have provided unique opportunities for advancing design innovation in concert with visionary transformation of the region. The challenge to the four teams is to build upon that history and envision the future structured around a more expansive notion of 'corridor,' including transportation, ecology, access, and equity.”
The ten winners can be found below:
- Coalition for Queens (C4Q) (New York, NY) - Coalition for Queens (C4Q) believes that people from every community—across gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic backgrounds—should have the opportunity to learn to code, gain jobs in tech, and create the companies of the future. Graduates have launched careers at iconic companies including JP Morgan Chase, Kickstarter, and LinkedIn, and have more than quadrupled average annual incomes from $18,000 to $85,000.
- CommonLit (Washington, DC) - 62% of high school students graduate unable to read proficiently. CommonLit exists to put an end to this problem. Using a website that equips teachers with the tools to gauge student’s reading levels and provide readings and standards-based quizzes that are tailored to each student’s reading level, CommonLit allows teachers to help each individual student improve their reading ability. CommonLit began in Washington D.C. and currently has over 250,000 student users across the country.
- EveryoneOn (Washington, DC) - In the country that invented the internet, over 60 million Americans (20% of the population) do not have the Internet at home. In a time where 90% of job applications and college applications are online, EveryoneOn exists to solve this problem. By working with internet service providers and technology companies (like Google Fiber, AT&T, and Sprint), and city and state governments, EveryoneOn has provided over 400,000 people in the U.S. with affordable and dependable internet access and will connect over 1 million by 2020.
- Haven Connect (Bay Area) - In every city in the United States, the government mandates a certain amount of housing to be discounted in order to house low-income and homeless populations. The process of applying to this government-mandated affordable housing is so onerous that many low-income people cannot take advantage of it, while property managers deal with thousands of paper applications and phone calls from people looking for housing. Enter Haven Connect, the "TurboTax for Affordable Housing." Haven Connect transforms the affordable housing application, selection, and approval process into an online, user-friendly experience for property managers and applicants. Haven Connect is piloting in Palo Alto, San Mateo, and in San Carlos, CA.
- mRelief (Chicago, IL) - $13 billion in food stamp benefits go unclaimed each year due to cumbersome processes in accessing needed supports. In Illinois, for example, food stamp applicants need to fill out an 18-page application or sit through a 90-minute phone call and submit as many as 10 required documents. In other states, the application can be more than 20 pages long and involve hours at the public aid office. mRelief has built an easy-to-use platform that allows families to find out if they qualify for food stamps by answering 10 simple questions in less than five minutes via text or website. Over 100,000 families in 42 states have used mRelief to secure food stamps or other public support.
- Learn Fresh (Denver, CO) - Learn Fresh teaches kids math through NBA Math Hoops, a basketball-based board game and online app. Through independent evaluation, kids who play NBA Math Hoops perform 2.8x better than control groups in basic arithmetic. With sponsorship from the NBA, Learn Fresh is currently reaching over 30,000 kids across the US.
- Propel (New York, NY) - 45 million Americans rely on food stamps to eat. But there’s so much opacity around checking food stamp balance that beneficiaries aren’t able to responsibly budget. To solve this problem, Propel has developed Fresh EBT, a free financial management app for SNAP that allows users to manage and budget their benefits, find places to shop, and access other money-saving resources. Fresh EBT is used by over 150,000 people each week and has users in all 50 states.
- Spoiler Alert (Boston, MA) - More than 40 million Americans struggle to get enough food to eat, while nearly 40% of the food produced in the United States never gets eaten—often because food businesses, farms and non-profits lack real-time responsiveness for unsold inventory. Spoiler Alert’s technology platform creates a collaborative, online marketplace that facilitates food donations and discounted sales while offering the relevant accounting and reporting systems to capture tax benefits and document important financial, environmental and social metrics. Spoiler Alert is working with Sysco Corporation, the nation’s largest food distributor, along with more than 200 organizations in New England committed to getting surplus food to nonprofits providing services to the food insecure.
- Storytime (Washington, DC) - It’s hard for many low-income families to get books, but many people have a phone. Storytime is a free app that lets teachers text illustrated children’s books to families, without any extra work. It’s more than doubled reading at home. Now, schools across 12 states use Storytime to connect school to home and build literacy.
- Thread (Baltimore, MD) - Thread enrolls 9th-grade students who are academically performing in the bottom 25% of their class and facing enormous personal challenges, ranging from homelessness to parents with drug addiction. Students remain in Thread for 10 years, no matter what, surrounded by a group of up to 5 volunteers. Their Thread Family provides unconditional support available 24 hours/day, 365 days/year. To date, Thread has served 255 students; 91% have completed high school within 5 years and 86% of Thread's alumni have completed a post-secondary degree or certificate.