Cincinnati to address climate change, Black financial empowerment with grant

Cincinnati is one of 25 cities, including four others in Ohio, selected for the new Bloomberg Philanthropies sustainable cities initiative. The city will get three new staff members to focus on the intersection of climate solutions and Black financial empowerment.

“I think there’s a sense that right now, with all of this federal funding, we’re rewriting the future,” said Ollie Kroner, director of Cincinnati’s Office of Environment and Sustainability. “There’s a lot of shift happening, and there’s opportunity to correct more than one issue at a time. And how do we be inclusive in this transition in a way that creates jobs, delivers solutions to communities that have been left out in the past?”

The Sustainable Cities Initiative also includes Dayton, Columbus, Akron, and Cleveland; Bloomberg Philanthropies is spending $200 million across the 25 cities.

RELATED: Looking back and ahead on ‘big wins’ for climate change response in Greater Cincinnati

A three-member “innovation team” will work in each city. Kroner says Cincinnati’s application pitched four primary focus areas: green workforce development, support for minority-owned businesses, energy poverty, and climate adaptation in vulnerable neighborhoods.

Kroner says the city had huge success with a different Bloomberg grant about six years ago, which laid the groundwork for major initiatives like the city’s solar array and the passage of the Issue 7 transportation levy.

“And here we are embarking on the next frontier,” Kroner told WVXU. “I’m really excited about the evolution of the work that is increasingly people-focused, increasingly equity-focused. I think that’s been a lesson learned across the cities and across the organizations together. And to see it come to life, with significant funding, is one of the most exciting things happening in this space.”

Kroner says it’s significant to see five Ohio cities in the program, especially since the state doesn’t have its own climate change plan yet.

RELATED: A federal grant is funding work on a climate change action plan for Greater Cincinnati

“There’s national recognition that there’s good work happening at the city level, while the state begins to pull their strategy together,” Kroner said.

He says Cincinnati will likely work collaboratively with other cities in the program, not just in Ohio.

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