Recognizing an unmet need for communities and climate resilience
The Climate Resilience Fund (CRF) began, as many organizations do, as an idea. This idea emerged from observing and supporting the development of a nascent field of practice centered around providing climate services1 to local communities in the United States to help them anticipate and prepare for climate impacts.
For that reason, CRF and its partners (including federal agencies in the U.S.), have been working over the past six years to build and support an emergent sector of climate services professionals who can help communities better understand their climate risks and how best to respond.
The good news is that technical resources developed by federal agencies and others are many, and have become quite sophisticated. But, while the development and availability of these resources has grown, local and regional decision-makers are still finding it difficult to access and utilize them, and so are unable to translate complex climate change data into their decision and policy-making processes. Private, nonprofit, and academic institutions have tried to fill the translation gap but still lack the capacity and funding to do so at scale.
Philanthropy evolved. A new model for leveraging public and private resources
CRF was founded to help close this capacity gap. The Fund acts as a unique aggregator and strategic distributor of financial resources. CRF pools philanthropic funds and works with field leaders and federal agencies to identify and coordinate investment priorities. CRF then re-grants funds to enable implementation of those priorities. CRF’s programs position private philanthropic resources to leverage U.S. federal government funding. That funding supports the provision of climate science tools and provides USD billions of dollars in capital for resilient infrastructure and ecosystem restoration across the country.
This approach is designed to generate a shared vision of a national climate services enterprise, help define and systematize standards of practice, establish common metrics for measuring progress, and build capacity to support adaptation and resilience outcomes in communities and at regional levels.
The Fund connects private sector partners including corporations (Wells Fargo), private foundation funders (Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Walton Family Foundation), consulting groups, and nonprofit organizations working in the field. CRF also holds a cooperative agreement with the U.S federal government through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA is the U.S. government’s leading scientific institution for climate and weather data and manages the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit. NOAA has developed the Steps to Resilience Framework – a universal methodology for guiding communities through a process of understanding their climate exposure to prioritizing actions to build resilience.
Notably, NOAA and CRF just released a new Practitioner’s Guide for professionals and communities working to implement the Steps to Resilience, as well as four foundational resources authored by some of the nation’s leading experts on: Centering equity in resilience planning, identifying financing for implementation, integrating nature-based solutions, and measurement and evaluation of adaptation practices.
Resilience grantmaking strategies
CRF features two grantmaking programs. The Resilience Accelerator, a capacity-building program designed to connect expert practitioners directly with communities and organizations in need of assistance. This program enables applicant communities to self-identify their challenges and then matches them with service providers and resources that suit the particular needs of each. These capacity needs fall under a few major categories: understanding climate risk and vulnerabilities, facilitating adaptation planning processes (including engaging historically marginalized communities), exploring options for employing nature-based resilience solutions, identifying and securing financing for implementing solutions, and measuring progress.
CRF also administers the Coordination and Collaboration in the Resilience Ecosystem Program (or CCRE) in cooperation with our partners at NOAA. The CCRE program provides grants to organizations seeking support for collaborative projects that improve, combine, align, or scale existing climate services that support adaptation and resilience outcomes.
Over the past five years, CRF has worked successfully with NOAA to align our strategies and matched private foundation funds and federal resources to co-invest in climate services that improve access, interoperability, or help scale existing climate services. By promoting collaboration and coordination between climate service providers and building on existing resources, the program supports initiatives that address recognized goals and gaps in the Resilience Ecosystem2 of climate services practitioners. Each year, CRF and NOAA actively solicit input from the community of practitioners whom we serve to identify the evolving needs of the field. The program is designed to evolve along with it, and those identified needs become the basis of the program’s funding priorities for its next round of grantmaking.
CRF’s programs are designed to address these deficiencies and help evolve the “ecosystem” of services, organizations, and resources available to better serve the changing needs of people, the communities they live in, and the natural systems on which we all depend to build climate resilience.
About the Climate Resilience Fund
CRF mobilizes resources to support resilience and sustainability outcomes in communities across the U.S. and for the natural systems on which they depend. Together with our partners, we aim to expand our collective capacity to create a more adaptive, sustainable, climate-resilient society. CRF was founded on the conviction that climate change adaptation and resilience strategies embody an opportunity to re-shape societies’ relationship with the natural world; an opportunity to mainstream principles and practices of sustainability, conservation and social equity into decision-making in all sectors.
1 “Climate services” are defined broadly to include science-based climate resilience planning guidance, adaptation trainings, policy guidance, communications, and other resources that enable local decision-makers, resource managers, planners and other practitioners to better understand, anticipate, prepare for and adapt to forthcoming impacts of anthropogenic climate change.
2 We and our partners define the Resilience Ecosystem as the open and inclusive community of public and private entities that are working to sustain and evolve science-based tools, information, and expertise that can help resource managers, land-use planners, businesses, and others to proactively build resilience to climate-related impacts.