The effects of more frequent and severe storms are being felt in communities across North Carolina. These climate events are impacting the health, safety, economy, and quality of life of North Carolinians.
Fortunately, North Carolina has seen an unprecedented investment in building resilience against the effects of our changing climate. Hundreds of millions of dollars have flowed to statewide flood resiliency modeling efforts, coastal community planning, and more. Billions of additional dollars from federal sources have also been earmarked for climate resilience.
Yet, there is a crucial next step to ensure these projects come to life: activating local community capacity. Communities across North Carolina must be able to take advantage of the information, support, and financial resources made available. CTNC has heard from nonprofit organizations and local leaders that too many communities seem to lack that needed capacity.
Case for Support
To address this vulnerability, CTNC commissioned a study in fall 2022 to gather information and input on the role service programs might play in building community capacity around climate resilience. With funding from VolunteerNC, CTNC contracted with Farallon Strategies, a national consulting firm specializing in identifying ways climate and national service may intersect.
The Project Team coordinated an outreach effort to better understand the opportunities of service programs. Over the course of this project, the team:
- Collected over 100 survey responses, from individuals representing federal, state and local governments, nonprofits, and academic institutions
- Completed 25 one-on-one calls with select representatives of local governments, nonprofits, state agencies, and existing service programs
- Held four group conversations with 36 individuals organized by common interests
The Case for Support affirms that existing and new service programs are well-positioned to play a vital role in assisting communities seeking to leverage the climate resilience investments being made. Though, as the study also shows, service in North Carolina must be greatly expanded and substantively changed to realize this potential.
Resilience Service Network
These findings lay the foundation for CTNC’s recommendation to create a North Carolina Resilience Service Network. This statewide network, ideally funded by the state budget and matched by federal AmeriCorps dollars and private donors, would recruit and place motivated service members in vulnerable communities to support local climate service projects. The design of the network must reduce barriers to participation and support members and communities through collaborative training and assistance.
A cornerstone of CTNC’s collaborative conservation model seeks to leverage the power of people through structured service programs - AmeriCorps, conservation corps, and similar service-oriented programs - to address the needs most compelling to the communities CTNC works alongside.
CTNC’s own long-standing AmeriCorps program, Resilience Corps NC, offers a case study for success. We’ve seen through a long-term partnership with Princeville, N.C., and through collaborations with other community-based practitioners, the positive impact that service members can have. Local leaders need a comprehensive, climate-focused service initiative to support North Carolina’s ongoing resilience efforts to offer greater benefits to our communities and individuals.
The Resilience Service Network offers a timely initiative that will lead to a more secure and resilient state. Alongside CTNC's Resilience Corps NC, we're excited to welcome Conserving Carolina's AmeriCorps Project Conserve and Conservation Corps North Carolina as founding partners in building this statewide network.
To connect with us on the Resilience Service Network, inquire about joining as a partner organization or host site, or learn more about how service programs can work in your community, email firstname.lastname@example.org.