Regional Sciences and Assessments Program in the Justice40 Initiative

On July 20, 2021, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Interim Implementation Guidance for the Justice40 Initiative directing Federal agencies to identify benefits that could flow to programs covered by Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, and provide for how these benefits could be calculated and reported.

What are Covered Programs and Investments?

A Covered Program under Justice40 is a Federal Government program that makes covered investment benefits in one or more of the following seven areas:  

1. Climate change;  

2. Clean energy and energy efficiency;  

3. Clean transportation;  

4. Affordable and sustainable housing;  

5. Training and workforce development (related to climate, natural disasters, environment, clean energy, clean transportation, housing, water and wastewater infrastructure, and legacy pollution reduction, including in energy communities); 

6. Remediation and reduction of legacy pollution; and  

7. Critical clean water and waste infrastructure.

Pursuant to the Interim Implementation Guidance, a “covered investment” is a federal investment in any one of the following categories: 

1. Federal financial assistance as defined at 2 CFR 200.1, including both Federal grants as well as other types of financial assistance (including cooperative agreements, loans, loan guarantees, and direct spending/benefits);  

2. Direct payments or benefits to individuals;  

3. Federal procurement benefits (acquisition of goods and services for the Federal government’s own use);  

4. Programmatic Federal staffing costs (e.g., federal pay for staff that provide technical assistance); and 

5. Additional federal investments under Covered Programs as determined by OMB.

 

Targeted Program Benefits

The primary benefit of the RISA program are projects that build adaptive capacity and relationships that increase the knowledge, abilities, and confidence of decision makers and communities to adapt to climate change (leading to resilience policy & budget changes, assessments, plans, community networks, and other initiatives, etc.). This includes new research on the dimensions of adaptive capacity including challenges and opportunities for resilience and implementation, and on methods of engagement related to risk and mitigation assessments, planning, and implementation.

 

Program Definition of Disadvantaged Communities (known hereafter as frontline communities)

Frontline communities are defined here as those communities who are the most vulnerable to and will be the most adversely affected by climate change and inequitable actions because of systemic and historical socioeconomic disparities, environmental injustice, or other forms of injustice.

 

Calculating Target Benefits for Frontline Communities

Benefits are tracked by counting projects that do at least one of the following:

  1. Collaboration and partnerships with frontline communities to build local, community, adaptive capacity through engagement and co-developed, co-produced or co-managed projects;
  2. Explore new directions in research and engagement methods that are indirectly beneficial to frontline communities by centering on environmental justice and equity themes;
  3. Directly invest in frontline communities or representative institutions to build climate adaptive capacity through financial and other resources.

Stakeholder Engagement

RISA teams conduct stakeholder engagement, within the region, as a core and continuous tenet of each award. An important component of RISA is its regional relevance. Relevance is established through iterative stakeholder engagement with partners, which span local decision-makers, organizations, and community members. Team proposals are evaluated not only on their methods of engagement, but also how applicants identify partners and communities they will work with, and the potential for their approaches to successfully build trust, identify activities and benefits, and carry out the work to completion.

Contact

Dr. Chelsea Combest-Friedman
Social Scientist, Program Director (Acting)
P: (301) 734-1240
email

Caitlin Simpson
Program Manager
P: (301) 734-1251
email

Dr. Ariela Zycherman
Social Scientist, Program Manager
P: (301) 734-1244
email

Sean Bath
Program Specialist
P: (301) 734-1294
email

Genie Bey*
Program Specialist (UCAR)
P: (435) 610-0161
email

Jessica Garrison*
Program Assistant (UCAR)
P: (270) 308-5843
email

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Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather.