Plug Pulled on the 100 Resilient Cities Program

The largest privately funded climate-adaptation program in the United States, 100 Resilient Cities, will conclude in July.

2 minute read

April 2, 2019, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Staten Island Sandy Damage

Damages on Staten Island after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. | Andrei Orlov / Shutterstock

Late last week, reports that the Rockefeller Foundation would end its groundbreaking climate resilience program, 100 Resilient Cities, caught the climate change advocacy community by surprise.

Christopher Flavelle wrote on March 28 to break the news of the program's impending doom, also explaining how the 100 Resilient Cities program works and where in the United States funding had been allocated "to hire 'chief resilience officers'" and grant "access to the organization’s staff and external consultants, as well as to a global network of cities trying to grapple with similar problems."

Twenty-four large and medium U.S. cities use the program, among them some of those most exposed to hurricanes and rising seas, including New Orleans, Houston, Seattle and Norfolk, Virginia. But the initiative also drew in cities far from the coast, such as Tulsa, Oklahoma; Louisville, Kentucky; Pittsburgh and St. Louis -- places contending with other types of extreme weather, like flooding and heat waves.

The initiative’s approach is to define resilience broadly, in a way that incorporates the social and economic challenges likely to amplify the physical shocks of natural disasters. That approach matches the overlapping risks associated with climate change.

Analysis by the Urban Institute, completed in 2018, found the program to be mostly effective.

In the process of breaking the news, Flavelle also speculated that the program's demise might be connected to leadership change at the Foundation. 

Flavelle also published a follow up article confirming the news on April 1, 2019, adding additional details about the future of the Rockfeller Foundation's climate change work.

Rockefeller will shift some of its resilience funding to the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank, with a $30 million grant to the council’s Adrienne Arsht Center for Resilience, the foundation said in a press release. Rockefeller also announced a $12 million grant “to allow continued support and transition time to the 100 Resilient Cities network through much of 2019.”

A Rockefeller Foundation spokesperson, Matt Herrick, is quoted in the article saying the 100 Resilient Cities program ended because it had achieved most of its goals.

A separate article by Eillie Anzilotti expands on the implications of the decision, describing the end of the program as a "blow" to the evolving field of sustainability and resilience.

Monday, April 1, 2019 in Bloomberg

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Rail tracks on the left, rustic log-built train station painted reddish brown with a green metal roof and concrete platform on the right, evergreen forest and bright blue sky with fluffy white clouds in the background.

More Passenger Rail Coming to Montana

Planning is underway to restore a 45-year-defunct regional passenger rail line connecting southern Montana to Billings and Amtrak’s east-west Empire Builder line from Seattle to Chicago.

May 14, 2024 - 8KPAX

Glass dome at front of modern San Jose City Hall building in San Jose, California.

San Jose Tests AI Translation Tool to Improve Access to Public Meetings

More than half of the city’s population speaks a language other than English at home, making translation services a key pillar of accessibility.

May 22 - GovTech

Empty subdivision lots with new roads and sidewalks complete and line of evergreen forest in the immediate background under a bright blue sky with fluffy white clouds..

Spokane Imposes Temporary Ban on New Subdivision Housing Due to Wildfire Risk

Citing inadequate fire protection and public safety resources, the Spokane City Council has temporarily halted subdivision development in the wildland-urban interface of Latah Valley.

May 22 - NonStop Local

White minibus with yellow "On-Demand" logo parked in an asphalt lot with grass field and dry fall trees in background in Edmonton, Canada.

Is Microtransit a Threat to ‘Real Transit’?

A new report warns that microtransit is nothing more than a taxpayer funded Uber with potentially dangerous consequences for existing traditional transit services.

May 22 - Streets Blog

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.