Two volunteers place a small tree into a hole in an arid landscape.
Planting a Tree Spaces of Opportunity in south Phoenix is a project to revitalize and reenergize the community through urban gardening, farming and more. © Ivan Martinez/TNC

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First-Ever Virtual Urban Heat Leadership Academy in Phoenix

Grassroots effort to build greener, healthier and cooler communities.

Registration is open for the first-ever Urban Heat Leadership Academy developed by The Nature Conservancy, Phoenix Revitalization Corporation and other partners. The Academy is free of charge and open to Phoenix Metro residents.

Why? In Greater Phoenix, urban heat is impacting health, safety, comfort, and economic development, and this is projected to worsen over time. The number of days above 110°F are expected to more than double by 2060. With 60 percent of Arizona’s population concentrated around Phoenix, heat constitutes a major public health concern.

The goal of the Academy is to build the capacity of Phoenix residents, so they have the knowledge, resources and skills to advocate for greener, healthier and cooler communities. On some days, there can be a 13-degree Fahrenheit difference in Phoenix neighborhoods just two miles apart. The hottest neighborhoods also have the lowest tree canopy cover and the highest child poverty. Often, residents in these neighborhoods are less likely and/or able to advocate for heat-reducing, nature-based solutions, such as planting trees and using rainwater to support trees and vegetation.

“This is about empowering people to improve their quality of life,” says Diana Bermudez, The Nature Conservancy in Arizona’s Director of Special Projects and Interim Deputy State Director. “This training will help people better understand urban heat, air quality, water issues and their impacts on our health and well-being, as well as the role that nature can play in addressing some of these challenges.” This is a key project for The Nature Conservancy’s Phoenix Healthy Cities Program, which is focused on bringing more nature into the city to mitigate urban heat and improve air quality.

There will be sessions on sustainability challenges related to urban heat, air quality and water, as well as advocacy, facilitation, communication and storytelling. This Academy will equip residents with the tools and skills needed to mobilize their communities to be heard and get a fair shake for resources to make improvements in their neighborhoods.

Classes will be delivered via live Zoom sessions and online lessons starting on July 24 and ending in November 2021. Participants will have the flexibility to learn at their own pace, as well as opportunities to build relationships with others in their cohort through a series of live discussions with peers and learning partners. The modules are being led by subject matter experts from Arizona State University, City of Phoenix, Maricopa County Air Quality Department, Trees Matter, Watershed Management Group, Maricopa County Department of Public Health, Valley Interfaith Project, Instituto, and Arizona Sustainability Alliance.

Participants that complete the 5-month program will also have an opportunity to get funding to apply what they learned by carrying out a green intervention in their community.

Sign up now for the urban heat leadership academy. Registration ends on July 2, 2021.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.