Community Resilience

Health Equity Zones Resilience Project


Like with most public health issues, climate change does not affect all communities equally. Climate change will expose pre-existing inequities and worsen them over time. Building community resilience is long-term way to prepare for the risks posed to the most vulnerable populations. Ways to build community resilience include increasing social connectedness, reducing social vulnerabilities, and making sure everyone in a community is represented in decision making. Resilience is also an ability to anticipate and plan for shocks and then "bounce forward" after a disruption.

What we do

  • Support Health Equity Zones to plan for the effects of climate change in ways that reduce health disparities, cultivate community leadership, build social cohesion, and ultimately increase community resilience.
  • Build knowledge and capacity in the Health Equity Zones and broader community on the topic of climate change, how it is expected to affect that community, and what can be done to increase resilience.
  • Learn from these pilot programs about the best ways to build community resilience to climate change in Rhode Island.

Urban Forests for Climate and Health


Heat is the number one public health threat from extreme weather.

Trees in and around cities, suburbs, and towns can significantly contribute to reducing the rate of temperature rise and can help to cool our neighborhoods and reduce energy use.

This project targets tree canopy growth in locations with the most vulnerable populations. Together with our partners at American Forests, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), and the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (RIIB), we will work in vulnerable neighborhoods to increase tree canopy to maximize public health outcomes.

What We Do

  • Develop a statewide carbon sequestration and energy use reduction goal.
  • Create a tree equity score for every municipality in Rhode Island to help local partners determine how well their tree canopy is currently serving their most vulnerable populations.
  • Create a Climate and Health Forestry Action Guide to provide a step-by-step guidance for city and local collaborators to set goals for forestry management.
  • Provide a parcel-level, web-based mapping tool to help urban foresters and collaborators pinpoint locations where new tree plantings would maximize public health outcomes.
  • Work to support policies that generate investments in urban forests.
  • Explore opportunities to activate City Forest Credits in Rhode Island.
  • Work directly with Health Equity Zones to develop and implement on-the-ground projects to train local tree stewards and plant urban trees.

Senior Resilience Project


The Senior Resilience Project helps long-term care, assisted living and independent living senior housing facilities prepare for storms, floods, and other climate-related extreme weather events. The program developed a series of tools and guides for completing energy resiliency audits and developing all-hazards emergency plans that emphasize sheltering in place rather than evacuation. When conducted by facilities that serve seniors, these important emergency preparedness actions will reduce risk to vulnerable senior citizens and increase overall emergency preparedness levels of the facilities that serve them.

What we do