federal logos

Announcing CIVIC 2022 Stage 1 Planning Grants

October 17, 2022 – The National Science Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is announcing awards for 56 teams of civic and academic partners. Each will receive $50,000 in Stage 1 planning grants to support the strengthening of their partnerships and their plans for ready-to-implement, research-based pilot projects. Teams are focused on one of two tracks: “Living in a Changing Climate” and “Resource and Service Equity”. In early 2023, teams from this stage will resubmit to Stage 2 for the opportunity to receive $1 million, 1-year awards to implement their pilot projects.

Hover over a pilot site to see the project title
Click to learn more about the team's work.


Living in a Changing Climate

Pre-Disaster Action Around Adaptation, Resilience, and Mitigation

Anne Kapuscinski – UC Santa Cruz


The ability of coastal cities to adapt to climate-induced coastal change is limited by their capacity to monitor key tipping points and sustain public engagement in planning efforts. Fourteen scientific, civic and community organizations in the City of Santa Cruz, California will co-develop a smart coastal change monitoring program that will use affordable, replicable tools to integrate geophysical and social triggers of coastal change into an analytical dashboard. We will incorporate outputs from the dashboard into innovative community outreach tools and a communications plan to generate alerts, facilitate awareness and sustain inclusive engagement in solutions to this pressing issue.

Katharine Suding – CU Boulder


This project evaluates emerging wildfire protection plans in our region by using a community-based approach that includes equity-centered actions and biodiversity protections that will address climate mitigation and resilience outcomes of fire risk reduction. City of Boulder environmental policy leaders, local NGOs, and CU-Boulder researchers will coordinate co-production of related scientific research with local government and community planning processes. Project goals are to reduce fire and related climate risks, increase public health and safety in the face of climate impacts, and protect and enhance the landscape-scale ecological health and resilience of the natural, agricultural and built landscapes in our region.

Jason Evans – Stetson University


As a built-out barrier island community, the City of Cape Canaveral, Florida is faced with unique stormwater management challenges and opportunities. Stetson University, the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, and Florida Sea Grant are working with Cape Canaveral to implement and assess nature-based infrastructure designed to protect against flooding and improve local water quality. Undergraduate students and community volunteers will assist researchers with the collection and interpretation of field data, providing a regional model for partnership and innovation in climate hazards adaptation.

Kelly Stevens – University of Central Florida


The University of Central Florida and its partners, including the City of Orlando and community organizations, will use a community-engaged approach to co-design an equity-centered, portable resilience hub and education center for underserved communities in Central Florida. Our Resilience, Education, and Advocacy Center for Hazard preparedness, or REACH hub will provide pre- and post-disaster necessities and connectivity and serve as hands-on STEM education centers during non-emergency times. We will put vulnerable communities in front of what we do by listening and incorporating community feedback to develop the technical specifications for the solar-powered, modular hub that can be scaled for other hurricane-prone communities.

Gwenllian Iacona – Arizona State University


Florida state parks face pressing climate-change related land management issues such as sea-level rise, changing fire regimes and novel species invasion. The Florida Park Service, Florida Natural Areas Inventory, and the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes at Arizona State University aim to tackle these issues by piloting a team-based approach to enable community land management organizations to use tools from decision science to identify solutions that are evidence based and implementable given time and resource constraints. With our “data-to-decisions rapid response team” we aim to solve specific park management problems but also develop a process that can be scaled to support community-based conservation agencies in solving difficult problems elsewhere.

Ran Tao – University of South Florida


University of South Florida, Hillsborough County and City of Tampa Office of Emergency Management, lemonGRAFT Inc., and several organizations in the food sector will work together to address food security during natural disasters by developing a GIS-based decentralized digital platform through special consideration of socially vulnerable populations. The platform will adopt GIS and web mapping to crowdsource real-time information, identify vulnerable neighborhoods, and match the surged food demand with local food growers and suppliers through the sharing economy business model. This project will help the community of the Tampa Bay Area by providing a robust solution to healthy food access for pre-disaster preparation and mitigation alternative, which can be scaled up to the rest of the United States.

Alice Alipour – Iowa State University


Iowa State University ENDURE team, the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, and Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management will work together to develop the first ever open access, easy to maintain and user-centered tool for asset management, scenario-based risk assessment, and situational awareness to be adopted by public rural utilities. Project will aim to create a user-informed, multi-source data-based approach to create physical properties of gridlines based on the climatic factors representing extreme weather events; generate the data and supporting models for the hazards observed in the pilot region; and provide a dynamic environment accounting for climate change effects and climate adaptation strategies.

David Reidmiller – Gulf of Maine Research Institute



Local observations of coastal water levels and flood impacts are key to developing high tide flooding predictions that support sea level rise adaptation; however, these observations are sparse along Maine’s 5,000 miles of coastline. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute and US Harbors are working with civic, community, and industry partners in three coastal Maine towns – Saint George, East Boothbay, and Portland – to build a scalable process for developing local flood thresholds and alerts with improved tide predictions and flood impact observations. We will install emerging, low-cost tide gauge technologies in priority areas identified by civic and community partners and codevelop community science and education programs for collecting flood impact observations.

Curtis Bohlen – University of Southern Maine



Rising seas, climate change, and threats to water quality pose interrelated challenges to the Port of Portland, Maine and the harbor’s active working waterfront. Casco Bay Estuary Partnership is working with researchers, the City of Portland and community members to customize output from a coastal ocean model to address community needs. We are building tools like an “ocean weather report” to help members of the Port and working waterfront communities make smart, resilient decisions for the future.

Kannan Thiruvengadam – Eastie Farm



East Boston is an immigrant-majority Environmental Justice Community with diminished resiliency due to economic inequities. Eastie Farm is a grassroots organization that fosters equitable local food systems, regenerative land use, and environmental stewardship. We envision a local and easily accessible green workforce development program for youth – a natural progression of our current work with K-12 schools and our creation of green jobs and climate solutions, such as our zero-emission greenhouse.
This pilot involves both biological and social science research, with ecosocial community benefits built in. Youth will be paid to assist experts in identifying and implementing green infrastructure solutions that increase coastal resiliency, ways to remove barriers to green jobs, and ways to increase community adoption of beneficial ecosocial programs. As they learn research methods and green job skills, youth will see how their work directly benefits their own community. Northeastern University, the City of Boston, M.I.T., East Boston Community Development Corporation, and The Emerald Tutu will work with Eastie Farm using a multi-channel, multilingual approach to ensure inclusive community engagement throughout the pilot. Our CIVIC pilot will be a model for 21st century resilience for communities like ours.

Juliette Rooney-Varga – University of Massachusetts Lowell



Participation in energy efficiency programs (EEPs) is inequitable leaving disadvantaged communities vulnerable to climate extremes, energy supply disruptions, and financial hardship from rising energy costs. UMass Lowell, the City of Lowell, All In Energy, and local civic organizations will research, develop, and implement scalable evidence-based strategies to accelerate social diffusion of EEPs. The social diffusion approach leverages existing social networks to exponentially increase awareness and accessibility of EEPs and build more resilient communities.

Cagdas Onal – Worcester Polytechnic Institute



In collaboration with the City of Worcester, we propose to develop a lizard inspired soft mobile robot for assessment of indoor spaces and duct inspection in old public buildings for the purposes of climate change adaptation. Due to the invasive and expensive nature of the current manual inspection processes, the City cannot identify, intervene or improve the current building stock and infrastructure. Collaborating with the City’s Department of Sustainability and Resilience, Department of Public Facilities, and Department of Public Works and Parks, based on our lizard inspired soft robotic mobility technology developed in preliminary work and new technologies to extend the sensing and navigation capabilities and convenient user interfaces, this project will identify the requirements to implement a minimally invasive, inexpensive robotic solution that can provide valuable mapping and sensing data for inspection.

Richard Smith – Wayne State University



REFURB (Recovering from Expected Flooding Under Residential Buildings) is a collaboration with Wayne State University, Eastside Community Network, Jefferson East, Inc., and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan to address anxiety and community trauma from increasingly severe flooding in Detroit. We will use participatory methods to plan and connect residents to a community resilience hub network. This will include new application of tech to identify failing infrastructure and strengthen local communication preparedness and response networks among Detroit residents.

Branko Kerkez – Regents University of Michigan



The Huron River Watershed Council and the University of Michigan will enable the smart watershed – a landscape covered by connected sensors, whose data are analyzed to manage the flow of water. The smart watershed will help communities to coordinate flows between each other to reduce problems of water pollution, flooding, and extreme weather. We bring together a broader team of dam operators, regional planners, engineers, social scientists, and ecologists – with close to a decade of ongoing collaboration.

Heather Navarro – Washington University



Members of the Midwest Climate Collaborative in the Indianapolis, Kansas City, Madison, and St. Louis regions are working to increase climate resiliency by expanding tree cover. By addressing common barriers to sustaining and expanding urban tree canopy, this regional collaboration will reduce the urban heat island effect, improve water and air quality, and decrease environmental disparities in historically marginalized communities. This project will identify the technologies, policies, and funding tools that communities can implement to overcome common barriers, and through the Collaborative, these practices will be shared as a regional resource to support similar efforts in other Midwestern cities.

Clinton Andrews – Rutgers University New Brunswick



Rutgers University, Groundwork Elizabeth, the Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth, and the City of Elizabeth, New Jersey will work to protect seniors living in urban public housing from the triple threat of summer heat stress, poor air quality, and inadequate indoor ventilation. Project partners will measure thermal and air quality conditions by deploying networked fixed sensors and youth participating in after-school STEM education activities will carry mobile sensors while accompanying seniors. The community engagement encouraged by this project should help seniors cope with summer heat waves, help kids learn STEM skills, and provide advocates and researchers with spatially detailed indoor and outdoor data on thermal and air quality conditions to inform modeling and public policymaking.

Ali Farhadzadeh – SUNY Stony Brook



The compounding impacts of increasing frequency of extreme flood events and climate change necessitate the development of scalable, adaptable, data-driven, and low-cost flood mitigation planning solutions hyper personalized at the scale of a community. This project: 1) leverages community engagement to quantify historical impacts of flooding, 2) incorporates local Capital Improvement and Mitigation plans and high resolution topographic, climate, and flood risk data, 3) integrates a broad swathe of environmental, behavioral, and socio-economic variables, and 4) develops and delivers a dynamic flood mitigation planning tool that communities can use to evaluate benefits of different mitigation alternatives to sustainably lower the vulnerability to current and future flood risk. This tool will be implemented in Mastic Beach, an economically disadvantaged community on Long Island. This initiative is a partnership with the Suffolk County office of Sustainability, Michael Baker International, Inc., Stony Brook University, and the hamlet of Mastic Beach, New York.

Chen Feng – New York University



New York University Tandon School of Engineering, the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (NYC DCAS), the New York City Office of Technology and Innovation (NYC OTI), and District 2030 are collaborating to create better ways to rapidly assess the 10,000+ building envelopes that require air sealing and weatherization under NYC’s soon to be enforced Local Law 97 by December 31, 2024. The collaboration will use drones, AI, and ground penetrating radar to find specific locations where targeted micro-retrofits will be carried out to perform weatherization, air-sealing, and adding additional insulation. The results of the study and collaboration will provide all NYC municipal departments with a way to rapidly prepare their buildings for the approaching Local Law 97 deadlines.

Tieyuan Zhu – Pennsylvania State University



Wendy Jepson – Texas A&M AgriLife Research



Urban flooding is a growing problem in many parts of the world – but traditional flood control systems are proving less and less effective under climate change. Nature-based stormwater solutions can be an effective strategy for flood resilience but are more successful when aligned with community goals. This project supports the establishment of locally appropriate, nature-based stormwater solutions by engaging governments, civic institutions, and community members in an innovative green infrastructure process. Through interactive workshops and structured feedback, community participants will co-develop a nature-based flood resilience tool and community engagement platform to guide sustainable infrastructure development around diverse perspectives.

Lulin Jiang – Baylor University



In order to mitigate the urgent crisis of climate change, Baylor University is partnering with the City of Waco to pilot a near-zero emission, multi-fuel combustor that transforms local waste of wide varieties with minimal postprocessing into ultra-clean energy. This innovation will maximize resiliency via its high fuel flexibility by 1) reducing the local waste treatment burden, and the emissions from landfills (mainly methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) which are significant contributors to climate change, 2) creating a new power source for the local community, and 3) improving the overall quality of life, especially for underprivileged members of the community significantly impacted by climate change. Through Baylor’s mission to be stewards of the community through academic excellence, and the City of Waco’s goals to provide improved infrastructure and economic development, this pilot combustor can be scaled up for various heat and power platforms and transferred to other cities, creating a cleaner and more sustainable society at large.

Brent Chamberlain – Utah State University



Historic mega-drought and imprudent water use have brought the Great Salt Lake to its lowest water levels on record, threatening a precious ecosystem and potentially leading to major disruption in the economy and quality of life of the region. Actors in government, industry, academia and non-profits are working to address this historic problem but capitalizing on solutions is disjointed because of the lack of an inter-institutional framework. We aim to build the fMRI of the GSL socio-ecological system to (geo)visualize the functional anatomy for and risks of these systems in order to build effective collaborative efforts across actors.

Kerry Kelly – University of Utah



Air pollution is the 4th leading risk factor for premature death worldwide; yet many communities in the US, particularly in rural areas, lack reliable air quality measurements or forecasts to help them make informed choices about reducing air pollution exposure, which is particularly important during poor air quality episodes, like wildfires and dust storms. The University of Utah is partnering with key decision-making organizations to co-develop an open-access platform with actionable air quality information at the neighborhood scale on an hourly basis; these partners include the Utah Division of Air Quality, the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, and the Utah High School Activities Association. The resulting cost-effective environmental sensors and smart data analysis techniques will empower citizens, scientists, and policy makers to make data-driven decisions to reduce exposure to poor air quality and enhance community health and well being.

Theodore Lim – Virginia Tech



Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs, the City of Roanoke, and community-based organizations are partnering to develop a youth citizen science program to build resilience to extreme heat among vulnerable populations. Youth will be trained in citizen science methods including: wearable and fixed-location sensors, GIS, intercept surveys, and photovoice. The data collected will be used in an online digital heat resilience hub, which will increase the inclusivity and comprehensiveness of planning and policy processes for mitigating and managing the effects of extreme heat in the city.

David Hendry – University of Washington



As climate-related disasters, such as extreme heat, drought, floods, and wildfires, threaten communities across the United States, frontline communities often experience the first and the worst of the impacts. Front and Centered, a coalition of over 70 community organizations led by people of color across Washington State, state agencies, and the University of Washington will co-develop the Envisioning Resilience Toolkit and assess it with communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards. We will advance the state of the art in community-driven resilience planning, and empower communities to create more resilient places to live, work, and recreate. We will also develop more effective approaches for two-way engagement between communities of color and state agencies for long-term planning and transformations to be sustained across generations.

Resource and Service Equity

Bridging the Gap between Essential Resources and Services & Community Needs

Michele Statz – University of Minnesota-Twin Cities



In Alaska, under-resourced rural infrastructure and a lack of trained legal professionals leave low-income individuals with civil legal needs, among them problems related to debt, domestic violence, and housing, with little chance of achieving a just resolution. In response, this project brings together the University of Minnesota Medical School, Alaska Legal Services Corporation, the American Bar Foundation Access to Justice Research Initiative, and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to explore how to scale up and sustain the nascent Community Justice Worker (CJW) project. The CJW project is the first of its kind, representing a replicable delivery model that trains trusted, culturally-representative community health workers and others already embedded in rural and remote regions to provide critical legal advocacy, including formal legal advice and representation.

Amanda Bishop – University of Alaska Fairbanks



University of Alaska and the Tribal Government of St. Paul Island are transforming citizen-scientist research partnerships by empowering Indigenous Alaskan communities and building capacity to tackle inequities surrounding traditional food security. The pilot will address community-identified concerns of contaminants in marine food resources, by anchoring existing research technology and training within a Tribal institution, as opposed to an external academic, agency or contract laboratory. By embracing the braided-river model in which different ways of knowing can flow independently or join to maximize each other’s strengths, we will facilitate rapid responses to changes in vital natural resources, with long-term goals of enhancing equity, inclusion, risk management, and resilience.

Morteza Dehghani – University of Southern California



Traffic stops are both mundane and potentially deadly. Past studies have shown harmful racial disparities in how civilians are communicated with during these stops. The Everyday Respect project uses body-worn video recordings to study the interaction of different forms of communication and contextual factors by Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers and drivers during traffic stops. We assess how different stakeholders view “good” officer communication; build machine learning tools to measure communication; and then work with LAPD to design training and policy innovations based on our analysis. Even though we focus on LAPD communications, the machine learning frameworks, the officer training curricula, and the policy innovations we develop are potentially applicable nationally.

Iana Castro – San Diego State University Foundation



Low-income and racially- and ethnically-diverse communities across the United States experience a higher concentration of liquor, corner, and convenience stores than supermarkets, with implications for healthy food access and for the health and well-being of residents. Walk to Healthy Foods’ vision is to bridge the gap between food accessibility and community needs in underserved communities nationwide by providing local organizations and community residents with a web-based, user-friendly app that takes an asset-based approach to identifying businesses that are already serving residents, such as existing liquor, corner, and convenience stores. The project will leverage these businesses to improve access to healthier food options and implement a scalable produce distribution approach that can be transferred and localized to each community to increase access to fresh produce and meet residents’ food needs.

Miranda Worthen – San Jose State University Foundation



Community Paramedicine is an innovative approach to providing complex care to communities. Community Paramedics in the San Francisco Fire Department collaborate with other agencies to help folks who rely heavily on 911 services, experience overdoses and other behavioral crises, and need more holistic care than traditional emergency services can provide. To further the groundbreaking work taking place in this city, we will develop and institutionalize metrics to measure progress towards equity in all areas of service. Through a client community advisory board, we will ensure that perspectives of those served by the division are solicited, listened to, and integrated into ongoing decision-making within the Community Paramedicine Division and its partners. Long established as a leader in the field of community paramedicine, San Francisco is poised to further pioneer strategies to hold programs accountable to their communities.

Weslynne Ashton – Illinois Institute of Technology



The project investigates how “Good Food” public procurement policies can be used to shift food systems towards greater racial equity, sustainability and resilience. In Chicagoland, buyers and producers indicate that the major challenges of implementing these policies stem from differences in values and visions among stakeholders, mismatches in the volumes and types of products available vs purchased, and inflexibility of current procurement channels. The research team will investigate and co-design strategies for achieving a common vision, discover and quantify the value of locally produced food that can meet institutional needs, and pilot changes to procurement models with 3 institutions in the City of Chicago and Cook County. A key expected outcome is the identification of pathways for small producers and producers of color to self-determine their participation in the food supply chain, including selling nourishing and culturally-affirming foods to large, public institutions. Results of the pilots will be directly applicable to other city and county institutions that have adopted Good Food policies. The overall approach and lessons will be transferable to cities and regions around the US that are in various stages of enacting similar policies.

Nitesh Chawla – University of Notre Dame



Despite many years of attention, lead poisoning is still a major problem for families around the world. Like a lot of public health issues, lead poisoning is complex, with social, governmental and environmental factors all playing a role. There are many resources available but there are serious difficulties in getting those resources to the households that need them most. Our team here at South Bend, Indiana is focused on using technology to effectively streamline services around lead poisoning. By working with our community (healthcare providers, health department, and neighborhood organizations) and using an innovative lead screening kit, we will be able to better identify the households most in need of remediation and resources, and more effectively get those resources to them. Through this, we will be able to close the gaps that prevent families from addressing the pernicious problem of lead poisoning and develop a model that can be used for other environmental health issues.

Samantha Zuhlke – University of Iowa



Vulnerable populations within the US are most likely to consume commercial water products like bottled water, despite these products being less regulated, environmentally destructive, and more expensive than tap water. Working with the Des Moines Water Works and the City of Des Moines Public Works Department, we will interview community members of Des Moines, IA and analyze patterns in commercial water consumption to understand concerns about tap water. Using this information, we will design strategies to improve consumer confidence in tap water and apply what we learn to other basic services. As a result, we will address equity problems in the provision of basic services throughout Iowa and the U.S.

John Gastil – Pennsylvania State University



A partnership among Penn State University, the national nonprofit Civic Genius, and local partners Civic Lex and United Way of the Bluegrass will convene deliberative forums in Lexington, Kentucky to address educational equity. Underserved communities often have little voice in government service/resource decisions, and public agencies have difficulty reaching these community members. Our study will test the efficacy of a citywide recruitment process that brings thousands of residents into small group meetings–held in-person and online using different facilitation methods–to bring forward marginalized voices and shape the city’s future policy decisions.

Lindsay Weixler – Tulane University



The New Orleans Collaborative for Early Childhood Research, co-directed by Tulane University, Agenda for Children, and New Orleans Public Schools, is working to develop and test a unified application portal for multiple programs supporting low-income families in New Orleans. Currently, families must submit separate applications on separate websites, providing the same documents repeatedly, in order to access all of the resources they need to support their children. We aim to create and evaluate a unified portal that would streamline the application process for families, increasing enrollment rates in social service programs and reducing burden on public agencies.

Kira Goldner – Boston University



Boston University and the City of Boston are working with the City’s Main Street Directors and stakeholders to design an approach to data collection that will enable the City to better time policy interventions to support struggling Main Street businesses. This project will identify mechanisms to access and leverage open and private data inputs to predict the distress or closure of small businesses and improve planning for Main Street Districts.

Hilary Binda – Tufts University



Our NSF CIVIC Innovation project expands upon the Boston-based program of the Tufts Educational Reentry Network, MyTERN, that combines Tufts University courses with community-based resources, cultivating knowledge, skills, and capacity for increased civic engagement among formerly incarcerated people. This project will pilot a paid internship component in partnership with non-profit and government organizations. With the aim of reducing recidivism, this project would facilitate greater reintegration and civic engagement for formerly incarcerated people, while measuring the outcomes and benefits of the program for the community at large.

Suzanne Russo – Pecan Street Inc.



Pecan Street, the University of Michigan, Jefferson East, and Ecoworks will design a Decarbonization-Ready Common Home Assessment pilot to benefit low-income families of color in Detroit. This project builds on existing collaborations among energy, health, and equity researchers, community-based organizations, and neighborhood groups to better connect eligible homes with available public resources to support housing and energy security, thus addressing frustrations that families who may be eligible for services from multiple programs are often discouraged by the need to undertake repetitive and duplicative home assessments. We will expand on the home characteristics checked during home assessments to map pathways for concurrent or stepwise investments that support beneficial electrification, solar access, and other decarbonization strategies.

Nancy Love – Regents University of Michigan



This project introduces Community Knowledge Inspired Decisions for Schools (Community KIDS). Initiated out of Flint, Michigan but designed to grow into a national model, Community KIDS is an approach that embraces local knowledge, shares technology details, and creates wisdom into the community through technology and effective information pathways. Our goal is to successfully implement and adopt approaches that create healthy and trusted drinking water and air quality for school buildings in communities with limited resources.

H Jagadish – Regents University of Michigan



The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBB) and the Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) at the University of Michigan will establish a centralized and comprehensive database that helps to accurately capture the condition of the Tribal Nation and its citizens, as well as their natural and social environments. The central research question is how to manage and integrate data from fragmented sources through the combined strengths of a number of cutting-edge methodologies. This project will play an important role in LTBB’s data-driven policy and serve as an example of supporting data sovereignty of the Native American Nations.

Brian Tomaszewski – Rochester Institute of Technology



The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the National Technical Institute of the Deaf (NTID), the Monroe County Office of Emergency Management, and the Rochester Recreation Club for Deaf will identify Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (DHH) community emergency service gaps, create and evaluate DHH emergency communication tools, identifying educational pathways for incorporation of knowledge about the DHH into emergency management and geospatial technology practice, and identify pathways for the DHH to become part of the emergency management STEM workforce and volunteer efforts. The project will directly address issues related to incorporating special needs populations into emergency management practice as results will be generalizable to other community contexts with special needs populations beyond Monroe County NY for broader project national impact and legacy as one in eight people in the US have hearing loss.

Xiaokun (Cara) Wang – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute



This project proposes to develop a Local Food Cooperation (LFC) program that integrates (1) a state-level food hub network that enables the coordination of multiple regional food hubs, and (2) regional Farm to Institution programs. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will work with two regional food hubs— Capital Roots from New York State Capital Region (NYSCR) and Headwater from the Rochester area, and the FTI program in NYSCR—to provide a platform for information exchange and, possibly, trading so that food hubs in different regions can collaboratively leverage the surpluses to provide a stable supply, addressing regional food insecurity and inequity.

Celen Pasalar – North Carolina State University



The College of Design and Institute of Transportation Research and Education at North Carolina State University in partnership with Urban Innovators, North Carolina Department of Transportation, City of Greenville, NC, Town of Smithfield, NC, and Strong Towns will demonstrate innovative approaches for converting auto-oriented suburban commercial corridors into walkable, accessible, sustainable, and affordable mixed-use “activity centers” by leveraging cutting edge transportation design innovations. This project relies on state-of-the-art “Placemaking Alternative Intersection” strategies that have great potential to catalyze walkable development along decaying multilane suburban highways. We aim to develop a process that can empower community officials and NCDOT with evidence-based decision making, but also provide tools and strategies that can be used to develop community-specific design guidelines using participatory approaches.

Deborah Richards – University of Oklahoma



The NEOKC Neighborhood Coalition, the University of Oklahoma, NEOKC Renaissance, and The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City will co-develop The Legacy Building Toolset (LBT) with the NE Oklahoma City community. The LBT is a digital platform, centered on interactive data visualizations, that allows community members to collectively explore identity, the meaning of place, and create and engage with community assets. The LBT allows participation in community collaboration projects involving sharing of data more accessible, usable, and scalable, especially in historically disadvantaged communities, and broaden the user base for both data sharing and projects built on it.

Neda Mohammadi – Georgia Tech Research Corporation

The NIST-sponsored Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC), Georgia Tech, and the University of Oregon, working closely with stakeholders in the City of Portland, OR, are piloting schools as Community Resilience Hubs (CRHs) in the Benson School District community to advance the socio-technical infrastructure of community-led CRHs. By establishing a digital twin-based Community Resilience Network (CRN) that is based on updated city management and community-led strategies towards expanding resource resilience capacity, distributed disaster response (across vulnerable communities and CRHs), and data-driven decision-making on disaster response, we aim to transform how emergency responders and communities coordinate resource distribution and services response before, during, or after a natural hazard event.

Vikash Gayah – Pennsylvania State University



The Pennsylvania State University, Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, Perry County commissioners, Rabbit Transit, and Susquehanna Regional Transportation Partnership will work to provide innovative shared transportation solutions that may provide mobility between rural and urban areas, with a particular focus on the commute trips. Using data collected from travelers about their commute patterns, the project will quantify travel demand, identify potential innovative solutions to address them, measure their effectiveness, and work alongside community partners to ensure the solution will be sustained beyond the completion of the pilot. These solutions can serve as models for other low-density communities with common travel destinations across the country to enable more economically feasible and sustainable transportation options.

Ayana Allen-Handy – Drexel University



Drexel University’s transdisciplinary team, in partnership with an established cross-sector partner network will address urgent affordable housing needs in the West Philadelphia Promise Zone neighborhood of Mantua, a rapidly gentrifying community that is also one of the nation’s most impoverished. The purpose of this project is to develop, implement, and evaluate the Second Story Collective (2SC) arts-centered model for intergenerational co-housing as an anti-displacement and aging-in-place strategy. 2SC has the potential to be implemented in similar communities throughout the US, and results from this pilot will serve as a model of sustained community-driven solutions for equitable development, particularly for historically marginalized Black communities.

Soledad Gaztambide – Foundation for Puerto Rico



We seek to pilot a participatory civic technology initiative, re+connect, to close the last-mile disaster relief gap and create long-term resilience for underserved communities with software technology, data intelligence, and social infrastructure. Building on extensive collaborative research and design efforts from the past three years, we aim to mobilize, inform, and coordinate collective action across residents, community groups, and governmental and non-governmental entities in disaster management to direct the right responses, to the right places, at the right time. The pilot initiative integrates an accessible, reliable, and user-friendly software application with an inclusive community engagement program to enable and empower residents to act as “community ambassadors” to crowdsource key information to bridge the gap between essential resources and services provision and community needs in the face of disasters. We bring together a team with expertise and experiences across humanitarian innovation, participatory design, civic engagement, social and behavioral science, disaster informatics, software technology, and social entrepreneurship to both advance knowledge and understanding in key fields related to disaster management and generate measurable, inclusive, and equitable social impacts. Successful implementation of the initiative will enhance peoples’ access to essential resources and services by strengthening social connectedness, improving local disaster information and knowledge inclusion, and facilitating collaboration and coordination across stakeholders to achieve disaster management goals.

Daniel Rodriguez Roman – University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez



The University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the City College of New York are jointly collaborating with rural communities in Puerto Rico to co-design tools intended to boost community-led initiatives to improve energy, mobility, and transportation resiliency. Building upon lessons learned from major hurricane experiences, the team will develop methods for implementing low-cost, clean energy micro hubs that can meet a portion of the day-to-day energy needs of rural communities and provide critical support in the face of disaster. Strategies will be developed to leverage the power generated in the energy hubs to also support the communities’ transition to new shared mobility alternatives.

Nilanjan Sarkar – Vanderbilt University



Vanderbilt University and San Diego State University will explore an integrated artificial-intelligence and behavioral science based driving-training (AIDT) system, specifically designed for neurodiverse individuals, to address the large need of transportation independence. Some 85% of autistic adults are un/under-employed — at a cost to the economy of more than $400 billion annually — and research shows that adults on the autism spectrum rate employment as their top concern for improved quality of life, however fewer than 30% of driving-age autistic individuals are licensed to drive, limiting access to employment opportunities. The project will bring together a broad based coalition of community stakeholders — including vocational training centers, schools, clinics, and insurance providers — to understand how to package the AIDT system for seamless deployment across the community, effectively train community service providers in its use, and develop mechanisms within the community for its financial sustainability.

Meiyi Ma – Vanderbilt University



The primary goal of public safety emergency response is to dispatch the right help to the right place at the right time, every time. In Nashville, we identified two areas to be improved upon in order to further that objective, including preventing 9-1-1 dispatchers from being tied up answering routine non-emergency calls, allowing dispatchers the opportunity to answer emergency calls more quickly, and optimizing fire and medical apparatus location and utilization, resulting in the shortest possible response times while making certain that they have the best information as quickly as possible once they arrive on scene, ensuring maximum efficiency. This university-community collaboration among Vanderbilt University, Rutgers University, Metropolitan Nashville Department of Emergency Communications, and Nashville Fire Department aims to create a community-centric approach to build an efficient and equitable emergency response system by applying state-of-the-art AI techniques to automate responses to non-emergency requests, precisely ascertain emergency response times, and extract on-scene information to support first-responder operations.

Sherri Greenberg – University of Texas Austin



How can community stakeholders collaborate to empower people on the homelessness continuum with better access to services and equip service providers with better data? The University of Texas at Austin, and the City of Austin, Downtown Austin Community Court are co-creating a community platform to provide timely and tailored wrap-around services. In this planning grant, we will work with local and national stakeholders to ensure that the resulting community platform will be sustainable, scalable, and transferrable.

Shannon Jones – University of Utah



A Community-Designed Intersectional Food Access Rights for Marginalized Communities (IFARM) Hub: Using Community-Based Participatory Research methods, A Community-Designed Intersectional Food Access Rights for Marginalized Communities (IFARM) Hub will be co-designed with our project advisory board, composed of individuals who are or have experienced homelessness. Operating from needs and service gaps identified by our advisory board members, together we will design a strategic plan and layout for the farm that bridges gaps in access to health and social services for individuals experiencing homelessness. The IFARM Hub will be a hybrid farm- and civic-engagement resource hub located at Wasatch Community Gardens’ Green Phoenix Farm, which is a comprehensive job training program for women who are currently experiencing homelessness or have in the past. We aim to make the collaborative process and IFARM Hub a model for other communities to co-design food- and service-related interventions with community members experiencing homelessness.

Marian Wilson – Washington State University



Access to effective pain management treatment is a critical problem, particularly in light of a growing opioid overdose epidemic. Washington State University, Urbanova, and Goalistics, LLC will lead a collaboration of patients, providers, and stakeholders to collect community input on the curation of existing resources, the development of new tools, and strategies for enhanced patient engagement. Our vision is to construct a suite of evidence-based online resources that are widely available, easily accessible and that demonstrate reduction of opioid risks while improving pain management.

Jamie Shinn – West Virginia University Research Corp

This project is a collaboration between researchers from West Virginia University, the West Virginia GIS Technical Center, and several civic organizations that were instrumental in response to a devastating flood that occurred in Greenbrier County, WV in 2016. Our team will use a county-wide survey, Participatory GIS, and focus groups in two communities with different levels of socioeconomic vulnerability to determine the gaps in organizational capacity, cross-organization coordination, and flood risk knowledge that need to be filled for more comprehensive flood response and recovery. Findings will serve as the foundation for the creation of the West Virginia Flood Resilience Framework, an online toolkit that will empower communities and local governments across WV with the knowledge they need for coordination and capacity building to better prepare for future floods.

Cristina Poleacovschi – Iowa State University



The Russian-Ukrainian war displaced over 7.5 million people, dramatically increasing the global total of refugees in just a few months. By 2050 we expect the global total of refugees to rise to over 1 billion. In response the US government has taken reactive efforts to accept refugees from crisis situations, including offering to accept 100 thousand refugees from Ukraine. Following initial displacement, integration into new communities becomes critical for political stability and mental, physical, and social health. However, adequate resources are rarely provided to facilitate this effort. Poignantly, adequate resources are not provided largely because the unique needs of refugees are overlooked. The inclusion of refugee voices in the planning process is critical to finding effective solutions and requires participatory data collection methodologies. To address this goal, our team will create tools that can facilitate the incorporation of refugee voices using photovoice, digital placemaking, and storytelling techniques. These co-produced tools will provide information on built environment attributes that can be improved to ensure successful integration into US communities. Our research team is collaborating with diverse federal, state, and local organizations, including U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Catholic Charities and Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa, to build these tools in a community-based participatory manner.