HCN News & Notes

Public Health Institute Awarded Grant to Combat Climate Change, Improve Health Equity

SPRINGFIELD — The Kresge Foundation has awarded the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts (PHIWM) a $600,000 grant for the Live Well Springfield Coalition to advance policy solutions aimed at combating climate change and equitably reducing health risks in low-income communities.

The Public Health Institute of Western Mass. is one of 14 community-based nonprofits nationwide receiving grant funding as part of The Kresge Foundation’s Climate Change, Health and Equity Initiative.

With this funding, PHIWM will work with Live Well Springfield coalition members, including the Resident Advisory Board, Arise for Social Justice, Way FindersNeighbor to Neighbor, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, the city of Springfield, and partners from other sectors to develop multi-year work plans that address community-defined health and climate priorities.

“Springfield has tremendous assets to overcome challenges created by societal issues,” said Jessica Collins, executive director of the PHIWM.​ “With this funding, residents in partnership with Live Well Springfield can advocate for policy changes as they have done before on different issues like community gardening and complete streets. Springfield is a model for this type of action.”

Said Samantha Bilal, Live Well Springfield manager, “​this grant would not have been possible without all the community partners and resident advocates who laid the foundation for climate justice work in Springfield.​ Over the last year, and despite the tensions of the pandemic, we worked closely with community partners and residents to learn what climate issues matter to them and their families. Residents are our true champions in this work,”

The Live Well Springfield Climate Justice Initiative will advocate for the city of Springfield to adopt Community Choice Energy and a Race and Health Equity Impact Assessment Requirement to address the climate crisis, systemic racism and resulting impact on health for communities of color, particularly Black and Latinx. 

“By working together, we can drive systemic change and improve the health and well-being of all communities – particularly Black, Indigenous and other communities of color whose health outcomes are disproportionately affected by environmental hazards and climate impacts,” said Monica Valdes Lupi, managing director of Kresge’s Health Program.

The cohort of 14 organizations will participate in a national learning community supported by the Institute for Sustainable Communities, which serves as the national program office for Kresge’s Climate Change, Health & Equity initiative. ISC’s mission is to help communities around the world address environmental, economic and social challenges to build a better future shaped and shared by all.