Resilience Cohort

Resilience Cohort

The Environmental Resilience Institute’s Resilience Cohort program helps Indiana city, town, and county governments to measure and reduce local greenhouse gas emissions and implement climate resilience strategies.

Participants join a cohort of peers, and each local government receives one-on-one guidance, attends cohort training webinars, gains the opportunity to host a McKinney Climate Fellow, and more. Through this program, more than 30 local governments in Indiana have conducted community-scale greenhouse gas inventories. Many have adopted or are finalizing climate action plans to reduce emissions.

Pathways to resilience

Planning for climate change involves two equally important pathways: climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation. The first focuses on mitigating the cause of global climate change—greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. This aspect of climate planning involves assessing or measuring GHG emissions, planning reduction strategies, and implementing those strategies. The second half of holistic climate planning focuses on adapting to the climate change impacts that are unavoidable, many of which Hoosier communities are already feeling. This aspect of climate planning involves assessing vulnerabilities to climate change impacts, planning strategies to build resilience to those impacts, and implementing these strategies. All climate planning strategies should be co-developed with the community, centering equity in their approach.

2023 Resilience Cohort

Climate resilience planning: May 2023 – April 2024

The 2023 Resilience Cohort will lead local governments through the process of assessing climate vulnerabilities, as well as developing strategies for a climate resilience plan. With support from ERI, participants will form a task force and work with residents and other community stakeholders to produce two major deliverables through the program:

  • Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessment
  • Climate Resilience Plan (sometimes called a Climate Adaptation Plan)

The deadline to apply for the 2023 Resilience Cohort is Nov. 4, 2022.

Apply for the 2023 Resilience Cohort

(Note: If you would like to host a McKinney Climate Fellow to increase staff capacity as part of your Resilience Cohort participation, you need only apply through the Resilience Cohort application, which includes an option for hosting a fellow.)

Who can apply: Local governments in Indiana

Program Timeline:

  • May – August 2023: Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessment
    • Launch project and convene task force; work with community and ERI to assess past and future climate trends and risks; identify and prioritize vulnerabilities; finalize vulnerability assessment (or update an existing assessment)
  • September 2023 – April 2024: Climate Resilience Plan
    • Work with community and ERI to identify resilience strategies; prioritize equity in engagement and strategy development; draft climate resilience plan (or update an existing plan); gather community and stakeholder feedback; finalize and adopt plan

Participants will receive the following benefits:

  • Step-by-step guidance through the vulnerability assessment and climate resilience planning process via 10 training webinars and access to tutorials, guides, and other resources
  • One-on-one technical assistance and support from ERI and Geos Institute, a nonprofit organization specializing in climate resilience planning services
  • Targeted assistance to integrate federal funding opportunities with resilience plan strategies
  • Access to equity training and coaching
  • Access to document translation services to increase accessibility
  • An Indiana-specific cohort and network to facilitate peer learning
  • Marketing communications support

Participants are required to provide:

  • $2,000 program cost (a substantially reduced rate thanks to the McKinney Family Foundation and other generous donors)
  • A lead staff person who can dedicate an average of 15-20 hours per month throughout the program (this hourly commitment assumes the additional support of a McKinney Climate Fellow; if not hosting a fellow, the hourly commitment will be higher)
  • If hosting a climate fellow, the local government will need to provide a computer, workspace, and phone for the fellow, and will be asked to contribute to the cost of the student scholarship (see application for details)

Additional notes:

  • In some circumstances local governments may choose to participate in the vulnerability assessment portion of the cohort only (approximately May – August 2023); for instance, in the case of updating an existing vulnerability assessment. The program application includes a question to indicate this preference. For participants pursuing a vulnerability assessment only, the program cost is $1,000.
  • For local governments applying to host a McKinney Climate Fellow, please use this job description template for your application.
  • To read more about Geos Institute’s work on climate resilience, visit these links on vulnerability assessments and climate resilience planning.

Attend an informational webinar about the cohort:

Decorative: headshot of Emily Styron

I think that this is an opportunity for our community to define what mitigating climate change looks like for us. For our businesses, for our residents, for our students, for people of all ages. What I’m excited about is that this is a community-based approach that is using science to help inform us of how we develop policy.

Mayor Emily Styron of Zionsville, Ind. on her community’s​ participation in the Resilience Cohort program

2022 Resilience Cohort

In 2022, ERI ran two program tracks, one focused on climate action planning and the other on developing urban green infrastructure. Both programs included an in-depth equity training and one-on-one coaching, while translation services helped participants conduct more inclusive public engagement.

In this program, participants utilized their greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories to develop emissions reduction targets and identify strategies to achieve these reductions with input from residents and other stakeholders. 

Participants received in-depth support from ERI and ICLEI, a leading nonprofit organization for local government sustainability. Using their GHG inventories as a baseline, communities modeled expected emissions reductions associated with various strategies, helping them compile strategies to meet their reduction targets. 

Some communities focused on their local government operations, prioritizing high-impact actions to achieve emissions reductions, while others are producing community-scale plans focused on emissions reduction strategies across buildings, transportation, industrial sectors, and more. 

Participants included Fishers, Huntington, La Porte, Merrillville, South Bend, and two multi-jurisdiction coalitions—one that included Lafayette, West Lafayette, and Tippecanoe County, the other a three-county planning effort led by the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission and supported by many town, city, and county governments. 

In this program, participants assessed their local tree canopy and worked with residents to develop equity-centered tree planting plans. In the face of more extreme weather in the Midwest, urban trees can help mitigate flooding, cool air temperatures on hot summer days, and provide habitat for wildlife. Unfortunately, not all residents have equal access to the many benefits urban trees provide.  

By looking at issues like access, urban heat islands, and sociodemographic factors, communities identified priority areas to plant trees, helping ensure a more inclusive, resilient future for their residents. Program participants also produced grant application materials to begin implementing their planting plans. 

All participants worked with McKinney Climate Fellows to advance their plans and received technical support and guidance from ERI, Davey Resource Group, and many other urban forestry experts from Indiana and the Midwest. 

Participants included Fort Wayne, Fishers, Huntington, Lafayette, Merrillville, Tippecanoe County, Terre Haute, West Lafayette, and Zionsville. 

2021 Resilence Cohort

In 2021, ERI led two program tracks, one focused on measuring greenhouse gases and the other focused on implementing greenhouse gas reduction strategies.

In this program, local governments conducted community-scale greenhouse gas inventories. This process involves collecting data on the amount of energy consumed in a community, the carbon emissions associated with energy supplied to the electric grid, a community's vehicle type and fuel usage distribution, and more.  

Some communities also completed inventories of emissions from their local government operations, setting them up to develop strategies to reduce direct emissions from government operations. 

Communities received in-depth training from ERI and ICLEI, a leading nonprofit organization for local government sustainability, through training webinars and one-on-one technical assistance.  

Participants included Cedar Lake, Chesterton, East Chicago, Hammond, Highland, Hobart, Huntington, Indianapolis, Lafayette, Lake County, Lake Station, La Porte (city), LaPorte County, Merrillville, Munster, New Albany, New Castle, Portage, Porter County, Schererville, South Bend, Terre Haute, Tippecanoe County, and Valparaiso. 

This program focused on implementing common strategies from climate action plans: increasing the use of solar energy, accelerating electric vehicle deployment, and reducing energy use in water and wastewater treatment. In each of these three focus areas, communities receives training and technical support from industry experts, including the Great Plains Institute, the Electrification Coalition, and the US Department of Energy. 

First, communities learned how to lower barriers to residential solar energy in their communities, working towards designation in the SolSmart program, a national program that recognizes local governments who make it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar.  

Next, communities learned how to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in their communities. Participants hosted events to increase awareness, distributed surveys to better understand barriers, assessed the electrification options for municipal fleets of vehicles, and began developing EV plans. 

Finally, guided by experts from the US Department of Energy (DOE), program participants learned how to utilize DOE tools to benchmark, monitor, and reduce energy use in water and wastewater treatment—a major source of local government emissions. The implementation program also included in-depth equity training and one-on-one coaching, as well as translation services to facilitate more inclusive public engagement. 

Participants included Bloomington, Carmel, Elkhart, Fishers, Fort Wayne, Gary, Goshen, Lafayette, Michigan City, Richmond, West Lafayette, and Zionsville. 

2020 Resilience Cohort

In 2020, ERI worked with ten local governments to develop climate action plans, building on greenhouse gas inventories produced the previous year.

In this program, participants utilized their greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories to develop GHG reduction targets and identify strategies to achieve these emissions reductions with input from residents and other stakeholders. 

Participants received in-depth support from ERI and ICLEI, a leading nonprofit organization for local government sustainability. Using their GHG inventories as a baseline, communities modeled expected emissions reductions associated with various strategies, helping them compile strategies to meet their reduction targets. 

Some communities focused on their local government operations, prioritizing high-impact actions to achieve emissions reductions, while others produced community-scale plans focused on emissions reduction strategies across buildings, transportation, industrial sectors, and more. 

2019 Resilience Cohort

In 2019, ERI launched the Resilience Cohort program, working with 14 Indiana cities, towns, and counties to produce greenhouse gas inventories.

In this program, local governments conducted community-scale greenhouse gasinventories. This process involves collecting data on the amount of energy consumed in a community, the carbon emissions associated with energy supplied to the electric grid, a community's vehicle type and fuel usage distribution, and more.  

Some communities also completed inventories of emissions from their local government operations, setting them up to develop strategies to reduce direct emissions from government operations. 

Communities received in-depth training from ERI and ICLEI, a leading nonprofit organization for local government sustainability, through training webinars and one-on-one technical assistance. 

Participants included Bloomington, Carmel, Columbus, Delaware County / Muncie, Evansville, Fishers, Fort Wayne, Gary, Greencastle, Goshen, Michigan City, Oldenburg, Richmond, West Lafayette.

See the 2019 program report    View text alternative of the report