Navigating disaster response: Symposium on climate resilience highlights advancing equity for people of color

1,765+ housing and community development professionals to attend Chicago conference

Chicago, IL, Aug. 16, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- An Aug. 23 symposium in downtown Chicago will present solutions to build climate-resilient communities. Climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience are key concerns for the affordable housing and community development field to ensure that all communities – especially communities of color and those who are economically hindered – have the resources they need to address challenges and succeed. “Climate Resilience: Fostering Wealth, Health and Sustainability in Communities of Color” is the third in a year-long series on advancing equity for people of color.

“The symposium will provide timely insights to advance climate resilience strategies in the community development and affordable housing field, with an intentional focus on equitable investment for those communities most impacted and too often left out of the solution,” said Lee Anne Adams, senior vice president of National Initiatives at NeighborWorks America. “Community-driven climate resilience calls for collaboration among a diverse set of cross-sector, multidisciplinary stakeholders who can work together to center resident voices through a comprehensive community development approach.” 

The symposium's confirmed speakers include: 

  • Donnel Baird, founder and CEO, BlocPower (keynote and panelist). Baird is the inaugural recipient of TIME’s 2022 “Dreamer of the Year” award. BlocPower previously was named to the second annual TIME100 Most Influential Companies list, which highlights companies that make an extraordinary impact around the world.  
  • Ellen Bell, director, Higher Performance Buildings, at the Chicago-based Elevate, on how making the benefits and services of the clean energy economy accessible to everyone is a way to address climate change while supporting equity. 
  • Phil Giffee, executive director, Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH), on innovations building community engagement with the Latino community, including having youth do air quality monitoring.
  • Jamal Lewis, director, State and Local Policy for the Mid-Atlantic and South for Rewiring America, on the importance of healthy homes and consumer resources to help people understand energy use and how new clean energy incentives can save them money.

More than 1,765 housing and community-development professionals from around the country will convene in Chicago for the NeighborWorks Training Institute Aug. 21-25. NeighborWorks America hosts this week-long event to provide professionals with comprehensive professional education and training in helping people reach their homeownership and financial goals.  

“Chicago’s commitment to community development work makes the city a terrific location to host our NeighborWorks Training Institute,” said Douglas Sessions, senior vice president of Training at NeighborWorks America. “More than 80 courses will equip housing and community development professionals with the skills and knowledge to transform people’s lives.”

Several courses during the Training Institute continue the theme of climate resilience and intentionally serving people of color, such as:

Between 2018 and 2022, NeighborWorks provided more than $5.7 million in climate resilience grants to nonprofit organizations, primarily in the form of post-disaster relief and rebuilding support. The grants addressed needs following the impact from tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters, such asrepair and rehab of properties; distribution of relief materials like water, food and personal protective equipment; support to community members to navigate financial assistance applications; and help with finding temporary housing for community members as well as relief workers.

In addition to the training institute, NeighborWorks supports organizations working to serve the Chicago community throughout the year. In fiscal year 2022, these organizations provided 18,561 housing and counseling services and counseled and educated 3,906 people. To read more about NeighborWorks network organizations’ impact in Chicago and other areas of the country, view NeighborWorks America’s impact map

Press credentials will be available on-site at Marriott Marquis Chicago (2121 South Prairie Avenue, Chicago, IL 60616, Grand Horizon DEFG, Level 4.) Contact Sheila Owens at or call/text 571-405-4802 to obtain credentials. 

About NeighborWorks America  
For more than 40 years, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp., a national, nonpartisan nonprofit known as NeighborWorks America, has strived to make every community a place of opportunity. Our network of excellence includes nearly 250 members in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. NeighborWorks America offers grant funding, peer exchange, technical assistance, evaluation tools, and access to training as the nation's leading trainer of housing and community development professionals. NeighborWorks network organizations provide residents in their communities with affordable homes, owned and rented; financial counseling and coaching; community building through resident engagement; and collaboration in the areas of health, employment and education.  


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