Developing and Implementing a Community-Centered Climate and Equity Plan

January 15, 2022

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FUSE Corps

Confronted with climate emergencies and persistent economic disparities, Milwaukee recognizes an opportunity to simultaneously address both of these pressing issues that continue to plague the region. FUSE Corps will partner with the City of Milwaukee to draft a comprehensive Climate and Equity Plan for the region, conducting deep community engagement and supporting the plans adoption through the City’s Common Council and County Board.

This fellowship project begins on April 25, 2022, and ends on April 24, 2023. The fellowship begins with a multi-day virtual orientation the week of April 25, 2022. The selected Executive Fellow will begin their first day of providing services to the host agency on May 2, 2022.

PROJECT CONTEXT

As the planet continues to warm, Milwaukee, like many American cities, faces the increasingly catastrophic effects of climate change. Currently, nearly 20,000 properties in the county are at risk of flooding, with that risk increasing each year; by 2050, experts predict Milwaukee will see three times as many heatwaves; and the percent of Milwaukeeans experiencing hunger and food insecurity is predicted to worsen from its current rate of 15% sharply. Milwaukeeans will encounter increases in rainfall, decreases in food security, the degeneration of biodiversity and tree cover, and poor air quality brought on by dangerous heat and extended pollen seasons. Beyond changes in the weather, there will be countless social impacts such as economic volatility.

Milwaukee also has pronounced racial disparities that are exacerbated by this climate crisis. Low-income communities face environmental hazards at a higher rate, and racism impacts their regional economic and education opportunities, health, and housing. Confronted with the climate emergency and persistent economic disparities, Milwaukee recognizes an opportunity to simultaneously address both of these pressing issues that continue to plague the region. 

In 2019, the City and County of Milwaukee created the City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity. The Task Force has been charged with reducing community-wide net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45% by the year 2030, achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner, and reducing racial and income inequality by assuring that greenhouse gas reduction investments and policies will create the maximum number of permanent living wage green jobs for people who live in Milwaukee neighborhoods with limited economic opportunity. In March 2020, the Task Force released a preliminary climate and equity plan.Throughout 2021, community working groups further outlined ‘ten big ideas.‘ These identified solutions address a cascade of challenges brought on by climate change and racial inequities. In addition to stakeholder working groups, the Task Force conducted limited outreach to the broader public in the summer of 2021. The Task Force is now looking to push the work forward, accelerating the integration of this gathered input into the draft plan in hopes of forming a final plan by the summer of 2022.

With this context in mind, the City of Milwaukee will partner with FUSE Corps and an additional hired consulting firm to draft a comprehensive Climate and Equity Plan, supporting its adoption through City’s Common Council and County Board. The FUSE Executive Fellow will conduct deeper community engagement, ensuring residents from each neighborhood are effectively engaged in a second review process and implementation of the plan through emerging federal grant programs. The Executive Fellow will utilize these conversations to create a plan that ignites interest from the community in combatting climate change, presenting compelling stories for how the recommended policies and programs will benefit each unique neighborhood in the city. Once Council adopts the plan, the Executive Fellow will begin implementing priority recommendations, such as developing a green jobs accelerator or resilience ambassador program. This work will ensure that the city can deliver on its ambitious climate and equity goals, building a resilient Milwaukee for generations to come.

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The following provides a general overview of the proposed Executive Fellowship project. This summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the Executive Fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the Executive Fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE Executive Fellow and the host agency.

Starting April 2022, it is proposed that the FUSE Executive Fellow will support ECO in conducting a second community review of the Climate Action and Equity Plan. The Executive Fellow will quickly build deep relationships with a wide range of critical stakeholders, including staff across city departments, the City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity, environmental groups and advocates, neighborhood and community-based organizations (CBOs), and community members. The Executive Fellow will review the community engagement efforts conducted during the first assessment and analyze existing community feedback on the first draft of the Climate Action and Equity Plan. 

The Executive Fellow will extrapolate best practices from the previous engagement and launch a strategy to ensure residents from each neighborhood are engaged in this second review and implementation of the plan. This may include breaking down barriers to engagement, such as implementing processes to diversify the volunteers conducting outreach and tweaking ECO’s use of social media to broaden its viewership. The Executive Fellow will focus on neighborhood-by-neighborhood engagement, building off of ECO’s Eco-Neighborhoods program. This will include collating community priorities within the proposed strategies and outlining how each neighborhood will benefit from the recommended policy actions and proposed programs. The Executive Fellow must know how to facilitate effective and collaborative conversations with community members to build buy-in and refine the recommendations.

Next, the Executive Fellow will support ECO and its consultants in drafting an official Climate and Equity Plan. This plan should be formulated in content and style to connect with the community and center equity. The Executive Fellow will develop these case studies to enhance residents’ understanding of the climate issues impacting their specific neighborhoods and how investment by the city in these issues will benefit not only their physical environment but also their health and economic welfare. The Executive Fellow should outline each resident’s, CBO’s, or environmental group’s role in the plan’s implementation, building a sense of on-the-ground ownership over the plan. The Executive Fellow will support ECO in facilitating the passage of this plan by the City’s Common Council by fall 2022. 

The Executive Fellow will assist the City’s Environmental Sustainability Director in implementing the plan with community partners. This will include prioritizing projects based on community need and available funding opportunities and, phasing these opportunities over time to ensure the most significant community benefit. The plan will also outline the precise roles of internal and external stakeholders. The Executive Fellow will initiate the most urgent activities or those that can be implemented quickly. This may include designing and launching a Resilience Ambassador program, recruiting groups of residents to conduct on-the-ground education for neighborhoods on climate issues and what they can do to combat these issues; helping coordinate ECO’s net zero energy housing strategy; or building a robust green jobs initiative, getting young residents excited about trades in the green energy space and connecting them with opportunities for training. 

By April 2023, the Executive Fellow will have supported the initial adoption and implementation of the Climate Action and Equity Plan, making sure it is as efficient, equitable, and effective as possible. This will include the following: 

  • Conduct a thorough review of the current landscape Conduct a landscape analysis, collect and analyze existing data and community feedback; review the community engagement efforts, detailing lessons learned and best practices
  • Participate in deep community engagement – Utilize equity-centered strategies to break down barriers to engagement, connect with residents, community-based organizations, and environmental groups in key neighborhoods to understand community priorities within the proposed strategies; develop neighborhood-by-neighborhood summaries that relate community desires to the recommended programs and policies; bring forward the community-voice to articulate the policies that will have the most community impact
  • Develop an official Climate and Equity PlanBuild-out compelling neighborhood-specific narratives and easily digestible data visualizations that connect with the community; catalyze buy-in from residents and additional stakeholders, forming a coalition of stakeholders in support of the plan; support the ECO team in safeguarding the plan’s adoption by City Council
  • Develop a framework for implementation and roll-out recommendations – Working with the Environmental Sustainability Director, establish framework outlining the precise roles of internal and external stakeholders, facilitating a sense of on-the-ground ownership for residents over implementation; develop a prioritization structure for the adopted recommendations; oversee implementation of strategies considered low-hanging fruit; work with leadership across Departments to manage the initiative; measure and broadly share progress towards goals, and integrate accountability mechanisms for long-term deployment of the framework 

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Project Supervisor – Erick Shambarger, Environmental Sustainability Director, Environmental Collaboration Office
  • Executive Sponsor – Aaron Szopinski, Policy Director, Mayor’s Office

QUALIFICATIONS

  • At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a strong background in strategic planning and implementation
  • Passion for environmental sustainability or environmental justice issues
  • Experience working in politically charged environments, prowess in managing delicate situations or stakeholders with patience
  • Robust community engagement skills; cross-cultural agility, relating to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy
  • Proven success in cultivating community partnerships, building deep community-wide buy-in for strategies that promote community impact
  • Enate storyteller, translating policy recommendations into impactful narratives that create buy-in from a wide range of audiences
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with ease in public presentations
  • Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations
  • Ability to sustain progress and facilitate change management within potentially ambiguous environments
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills, with the capacity to quickly elevate their thinking from down in the tactical weeds of day-to-day operations to a higher level
  • A self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker
  • Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity
FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.
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