Press Release

Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank Announces $1.5 Million for Municipal Resilience Program Action Grants

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February 24, 2021

Press Release

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank announced $1,500,000 in action grants for participants of the 2020 Resilient Rhody Municipal Resilience Program (MRP). Communities prioritized local actions through the program and will now use grant funds for implementation of projects that will increase their climate resilience.

“The Infrastructure Bank is committed to working with our municipal partners to accelerate investment in critical infrastructure and nature-based solutions that better prepare Rhode Island communities for a changing climate” said Jeffrey R. Diehl, CEO of Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank. “We look forward to building on the success of the first two rounds of the program and strengthening relationships with communities statewide to proactively identify the resources needed to make needed resilience projects happen.” 

With support from The Nature Conservancy, over the past 12 months municipalities completed Community Resilience Building workshops and developed a prioritized list of actionable plans and projects. Participating municipalities submitted proposals for action grants, with a 25% local match requirement. After a competitive review process, the selection committee recommended the following communities to receive funding for implementation:

  • Bristol - Wetland restoration for flood mitigation and water quality benefits at Bristol Golf Course
  • Little Compton - Three green infrastructure projects for stormwater management and coastal erosion control at South Beach, Town Way, and John Dyer Road
  • Newport - Meadow restoration for stormwater management and water quality benefits at Sprouting Rock Drive
  • Pawtucket & Central Falls - Infrastructure upgrades, green infrastructure, and tree planting in the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) District for stormwater management, water quality, air quality, and heat reduction benefits
  • Warwick - Bioretention system and coastal embankment for stormwater management, water quality improvement, and erosion control at Oakland Beach
  • Woonsocket - Four green infrastructure projects for stormwater management at River’s Edge Park, River Island Park, Bernon Memorial Park, and the City Hall Parking Lot
  • Woonsocket - Increased culvert capacity for flood mitigation at Mendon Road

The Bank also named six municipalities to participate in the 2021 round of the MRP. This is the third round of the program and the selected municipalities will complete Community Resilience Building workshops with The Nature Conservancy and receive designation as a Resilient Rhody Municipality upon successful completion of the program. They are then eligible to apply for 2021 Action Grants. 19 municipalities, or 49% of the state, are currently participating in the program.

Selected 2021 municipalities:

  • Cumberland
  • East Providence
  • Jamestown
  • New Shoreham
  • North Kingstown
  • Providence

“The majority of infrastructure and assets at risk to climate change in Rhode Island are owned and managed by municipalities, but these communities often lack the staff capacity, funding, and expertise to plan and prioritize resilience projects,” said Shaun O’Rourke, managing director of program and business development at the Infrastructure Bank and the state’s chief resiliency officer. “Rising sea levels, increasing heat, and extreme storm events will have long-term effects on local infrastructure and residents. The Municipal Resilience Program is collaboratively building a statewide pipeline of priority projects with municipalities to more effectively and efficiently respond to these climate impacts that we are already experiencing.”

In 2020, The Nature Conservancy adapted the in-person, day-long Community Resilience Building Workshop to an entirely online format that will continue with the 6 municipalities chosen for 2021.  “While we miss in-person connections, we are seeing community leaders enthusiastic to collaborate in response to and try to get ahead of the impacts of climate change,” said Sue AnderBois, The Nature Conservancy’s Climate and Energy Program Manager. “These action grants from RI Infrastructure Bank are a critical down payment to improve water quality, reduce air pollution and create healthier communities for generations to come.”

The MRP supports the goals outlined in the state’s Climate Resilience Action Strategy (Resilient Rhody) released by Governor Gina Raimondo in 2018. Resilient Rhody identified steps the state can take to protect against unexpected events, like severe weather, while addressing chronic environmental stresses, such as sea level rise and aging infrastructure. The MRP empowers cities and towns to evaluate each of their unique vulnerabilities to changing weather and severe weather events, while providing them with the funds necessary to take on specific resilience projects.

About Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank:

Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank is Rhode Island’s central hub for financing infrastructure improvements for municipalities, businesses, and homeowners. We leverage capital in a revolving fund to offer innovative financing for an array of infrastructure-based projects including water and wastewater, road and bridge, energy efficiency and renewable energy, and brownfield remediation. These quality of life projects improve the State’s infrastructure, create jobs, promote economic development and enhance the environment. For more information, please visit www.riib.org.

About The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions such as Community Resilience Building to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.