Brooklyn College receives $500K to promote coastal resilience through environmental literacy

September 23, 2016 From Brooklyn College
Brooklyn College Urban Sustainability Program Director Brett Branco. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn College
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Brooklyn College announced on Friday that it is one of five institutions to receive a $500,000 grant over three years from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to promote coastal resilience through an environmental literacy project. The project will build on local resilience plans and create new partnerships among K-12 schools, informal education institutions and government and nonprofit organizations working on resilience planning and implementation.

NOAA received 170 applications from 40 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories, with a total request of more than $77 million. The five wining projects were selected for funding following a highly competitive request for applications in which communities highlighted their needs for education projects that build resilience.

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“I’m particularly excited about this project,” said Brooklyn College Urban Sustainability Program Director Brett Branco. “I will be working with the National Wildlife Federation’s NYC EcoSchools, New York Sea Grant and the Brooklyn STEAM Alliance — a collaborative group of city schools, scientific organizations and community groups — to engage students in investigating the impacts of climate and extreme weather on their schools and their neighborhoods.”

Branco is also a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and a founding researcher in the Brooklyn College-led Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay, created shortly after Superstorm Sandy battered New York City in 2012.

Working with NWF Eco-Schools USA, Brooklyn College will create the Resilient Schools Consortium (RiSC) Program that increases environmental literacy while engaging high school and middle school students in climate resilience planning and practice in New York City.

The group will develop ideas for resilience projects for their schools and neighborhoods and present them to the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resilience and NYC Department of Education officials. Student RiSC teams at Brooklyn public schools that were impacted by Superstorm Sandy will utilize a new Climate RiSC Curriculum to explore the vulnerability of their schools and neighborhoods to climate change, variability and extreme weather.

The RiSC teams will then follow a resilience assessment process modeled after the NOAA Community Resilience Index to develop resilience projects. The students will then present their resilience plans to NYC Department of Education officials and representatives from the NYC’s Office of Resilience and Recovery at RiSC Summits coordinated with the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay, Branco added.

The RiSC Program and Climate RiSC Curriculum will be integrated into National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program and disseminated nationally through the networks of the project partners.

The other four institutions selected by the NOAA were the Elizabeth River Project of Norfolk, VA; the Maritime Aquarium of Norwalk, CT; the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, IL; and the Watershed Management Group, Tucson, AZ projects.

These projects incorporate a variety of approaches, including empowering youth and adults to increase their understanding of local natural hazards and stresses, giving youth a voice in resilience planning and student-led vulnerability assessments of their schools and communities.

“Another step in bringing STEM education to high school students in Brooklyn and Queens is providing these students with a platform to be involved in NYC schools response to climate change,” said Brooklyn College Provost William Tramontano upon hearing the news.


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