2023 Annual Report

Building capacity, resources, and knowledge

In 2023, the IU Environmental Resilience Institute had its most productive year yet, affirming its position as a statewide leader in sustainability.

At a glance, ERI:

  • launched the Indiana Resilience Funding Hub, which helps rural communities receive federal funding for climate resilience projects
  • placed more students than ever before in McKinney Climate Fellowships across the state
  • guided eight local governments through environmental equity and climate risk planning
  • sold out the Indiana Sustainability and Resilience Conference for the first time, with more than 360 attendees
  • continued to support environmental education training for K-12 teachers through Educating for Environmental Change.

The institute plays a critical role in connecting Indiana communities and other stakeholders to capacity, resources, and knowledge for sustainability initiatives. This report captures highlights from the year.

Leading sustainability projects in Indiana

ERI trained a record 48 McKinney Climate Fellows in 2023. Host organizations included many returning groups like Sycamore Land Trust and Cummins, as well as new hosts such as Newfields, the City of Columbus, and the Indiana Pacers.

Donors and grantors supported MCF scholarships and administration costs for this talented group of IU students, helping to fuel climate action for 54 counties through all the projects fellows worked—nearly 20,000 hours of service in total.

View a photo gallery of 2023 McKinney Climate Fellows


(Top) Zolboo Dashmyagmar spearheaded a climate risk and vulnerability assessment for the City of Columbus, Ind., gathering data and community input to identify and prioritize risks. (Bottom left) Gabrielle Robles researched solar regulations and surveyed new land acquisitions with the Indiana Land Protection Alliance. (Bottom right) Dalton Jackson (middle) and Sakshi Shirbhate (right) supported Cummins' technical and environmental systems department.    

Building a green workforce: A Q&A series with MCF alumni

To develop a green workforce in Indiana, the MCF program trains IU students and connects them with Hoosier employers. After graduation, many decide to stay in-state and continue their important work as professionals. About 51% of MCF alumni stay in Indiana, and 74% of them work green jobs in Indiana or elsewhere. Learn about some of these remarkable students in ERI’s Q&A series, "Building a Green Talent Pipeline."

Browse the series


One of the things that stuck with me from McKinney Climate Fellows was the importance of getting people with sustainability knowledge from IU and IUPUI to stay in Indiana.

Jonathan Lewis, 2020–21 MCF

Assessing communities' climate vulnerabilities

ERI's Resilience Cohort was a finalist for the Campus Sustainability Achievement Award. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education selected the program for its climate and resilience work with Indiana local governments.

The 2023 cohort focused on community-scale resilience to climate change. Local governments assessed climate risk and vulnerability, then developed climate resilience plans based on the results. From that, they developed one prioritized climate action to implement immediately.

Communities held stakeholder workshops, in which participants determined each community’s most significant risks and vulnerabilities and identified solutions. For the top contenders, they gathered implementation details and created a prioritized implementation strategy to be phased in over time.

McKinney Climate Fellows helped lead stakeholder sessions and develop implementation plans. Bloomington, New Albany, Gary, Terre Haute, South Bend, Carmel, Monroe County, and Columbus participated.

Read more about the 2023 Resilience Cohort


McKinney Climate Fellow Isioma Nwayor spoke during the City of Gary's climate risk and vulnerability assessement workshop in July 2023. Nwayor presented on local climate trends during the event.
McKinney Climate Fellow Kate Burnett presented during the City of South Bend's climate risk and vulnerability assessment workshop. Burnett helped organize the event as part of her fellowship.
Terre Haute community members brainstormed the city's vulnerabilities to climate change during an October 2023 workshop organized through ERI's 2023 Resilience Cohort program. More than 40 community members participated.

IRFH highlights

Transportation planning grant supports Holland, Indiana’s revitalization

Read about the grant

SS4A grant to address safety concerns in tri-county area traffic corridor

Learn about the project
An off-road walking and bicycle trail in Richmond, Indiana, a 2019 Resilience Cohort participant

Hub assists Hoosier communities applying for federal grants

Read about the funding hub

Beat the Heat

This pilot project, supported by ERI and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, develops community-wide heat relief strategies tailored to the Midwest. It helps Indiana communities create heat maps, conduct public surveys, interviews, collect data, and publish tailored plans to protect residents from extreme heat.

Learn more about the project

Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center

The U.S. Geological Survey funds this consortium of eight universities and natural resource organizations, which  is dedicated to advancing science in response to the climate crisis. ERI coordinates IU’s participation and hosted the 2023 gathering at IUPUI.

Read more about the CASC

Environmental change book series

ERI and IU Press announced a new book series focused on environmental change. The series' first book, Climate Change and Resilience in Indiana and Beyond, maps how Indiana can navigate the stresses that environmental change poses to the state's economy and residents' health.

Learn more about the book series
teachers doing a worksheet in the field

Educating for Environmental Change

EfEC is a professional development program for K12 teachers to teach environmental science and climate change effectively. Educators meet with experts and get resources that advance classroom discussion of climate change’s broader contexts and empower students.

Watch the 2023 EfEC video

Immersive climate storytelling

Through a collaboration with the IU Advanced Visualization Lab, ERI leveraged extended reality and artificial intelligence software to share immersive video stories focused on climate impacts.


View the XR videos

ERI affiliates' research publications

ERI-affiliated researchers publish new insights related to sustainability, climate, and resilience in scholarly journals in disciplines as diverse as biology, sociology, and law. This scholarship contributes to global scientific knowledge and informs decison-making.

Browse 2023 publications

Bringing Hoosier climate leaders together

ERI began planning and management of the Indiana Sustainability and Resilience Conference (ISRC) in 2022, hosting its first ISRC in February 2023.

Held at the IUPUI Campus Center, the one-day gathering focused on equipping Indiana’s sustainability professionals and students with the tools and resources they need to act now. Attendees rated the conference highly, especially the networking periods and the focus on positive solutions.

Janet McCabe, deputy administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and former ERI director, delivered the keynote address at the sold-out event, highlighting the agency’s role in regional climate solutions and federal funding opportunities, as well as its approach to environmental justice.

View photos from ISRC 2023

Expenses and awards

ERI had an operating budget of $1.3M in 2023 and received $1.2M in sponsored funding and $900K in University funding to support operations, research, and service. Including multi-year awards, ERI has secured sponsored funding totaling $4.3M.

The following chart shows how ERI allocated its 2023 operating budget:

Get an accessible version of ERI's 2023 operating budget chart.

The following chart shows ERI's 2023 sponsored awards by funding source:

Check out an accessible version of ERI's 2023 sponsored funding chart.

Broad Ripple Ice Cream Station
Browning Day
Community-Engaged Alliance Inc.
Christopher Burke Engineering LLC
Energy Foundation
Herbert Simon Family Foundation
Indiana Department of Environmental Management
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Indianapolis Airport Authority
Indianapolis Office of Sustainability
Indiana Office of Community & Rural Affairs
Inovateus Solar
Interstate Renewable
Institute of International Education
IUPUI Lilly School of Philanthropy
IU Women's Philanthropy Leadership Council
National Science Foundation
McKinney Family Foundation
Rural Climate Partnership
U.S. Geological Survey
Waste Management