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The Rockefeller Foundation Announces Joint Initiative with Obama Administration to Create New Resilience AmeriCorps Program


NEW YORK—Today, The Rockefeller Foundation announced their latest commitment to building resilience in communities across the country through the launch of Resilience AmeriCorps. The pilot program will be dedicated to recruiting, training, and embedding VISTA members in up to 12 communities nationwide, including some of those in the 100 Resilient Cities network. AmeriCorps VISTA members will support the development of resilience strategies to help communities better manage the unavoidable and avoid the unmanageable. The multi-agency initiative includes the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), and Cities of Service.

The two-year pilot launches later this year, through anticipated support of $1 million, and on July 15, the White House will hold a live-streamed discussion on the important role community service can play in helping vulnerable communities become more resilient to climate change impacts. The event will feature speakers from the Administration, The Rockefeller Foundation, and local communities already working on building resilience. VISTA – Volunteers In Service To America – was founded in 1965 as a national service program to fight poverty in America and in 1993 VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs.
“Crisis is increasingly part of the 21st century, which is why it is imperative that communities – large and small – place a premium on building resilience. With collaborative efforts across all sectors we can ensure our country is prepared for the inevitable shocks and gnawing stresses so that disruptions no longer become disasters,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation. “The new Resilience AmeriCorps program will create a new generation of talented individuals who are committed to building resilience, and who can support cities today while deepening the bench for innovative leadership in years to come. Resilience is a journey, not a destination, and the time to embark on it is now.”

“We heard loudly and clearly from state, local, and tribal leaders about the need to support low-income communities that are disproportionally impacted by climate change,” said Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Along with other actions the Administration is taking, the Resilience AmeriCorps Pilot Program will help vulnerable communities build capacity and improve their resilience to the impacts of climate change.”

“We are excited to help lead the country’s first Resilience AmeriCorps with the Rockefeller Foundation and our federal partners,” said Cities of Service Executive Director Myung J. Lee. “Cities of Service works with our mayors to help engage their citizens, improve their communities with impact volunteering, and achieve results. We are glad to be a part of this program that will strengthen cities structurally as well as socially, toward greater national resilience.”

The Rockefeller Foundation also announced an additional $3.2 million in continued support of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC), adding to its prior $8 million that supported the first phase of the NDRC as well as the Rebuild by Design competition, which inspired the NDRC. The NDRC aims to deploy disaster recovery investments that will build resilience in communities in ways that reflect the needs of low-income residents, contributes to stronger local economies, and provides amenities that improve the quality of life for all.

In June, HUD announced the 40 states and local communities that will compete in the second and final phase of the NDRC. The Rockefeller Foundation’s newest funding will provide additional support to build capacity among the eligible teams.

This support is expected to include a starter-kit for project development that was made available immediately upon announcement to all Phase 2 finalists, expertise from a range of technical experts, two Resilience Academies to be held in Denver and Chicago later this month, and a Resilience Summit for funders and federal agencies planned for the fall. While the academies and summit will focus on the Phase 2 NDRC application requirements, The Rockefeller Foundation has invited all NDRC-eligible communities to participate, including those that did not advance to Phase 2, in recognition of their commitment to and interest in building resilience. In addition, the Foundation will continue to work with federal agencies as they strive to cross-integrate the lessons HUD has learned through this competition.

“National service is a powerful and proven solution to local issues communities face today, including making communities more resilient, especially those most vulnerable in the face of disasters,” said Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Spencer. “This partnership will expand the role of our AmeriCorps VISTA members in strengthening communities and will build on AmeriCorps VISTA’s long history of partnering with federal agencies, philanthropy, and city leadership. I am confident that the work of our AmeriCorps members will have a significant impact on these communities and its residents.”

The Rockefeller Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars in building resilience around the world over the past decade, from early involvement providing support to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, to its 100 Resilient Cities global effort, to its continuing partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to innovate in how federal disaster recovery dollars are spent – first with Rebuild By Design, a competition to drive resilient recovery in Sandy-affected communities in the Northeast, and currently through the NDRC. Resilience AmeriCorps opens a new chapter in the Foundation’s commitment to building resilience across the United States, one that reflects its long history of supporting the next generation of innovators and leaders.