Trees lined up in preparation for planting.
Rio Salado Volunteers from American Express in Phoenix helped with a planned tree planting along the Rio Salado Preserve. © TNC


Take Action to Cool Your Community and Improve Your Quality of Life

Register for 2nd Annual Virtual Urban Heat Leadership Academy in Phoenix

Media Contacts

Want to make a difference in your neighborhood? Registration is open for the second annual Urban Heat Leadership Academy developed by The Nature Conservancy, Phoenix Revitalization Corporation and other partners.

The Academy builds the capacity of Phoenix residents, so they have the knowledge, resources and skills to advocate for greener, healthier and cooler communities.

The Academy is free of charge, open to Phoenix metro area residents, and will be offered in both Spanish and English.

Urban heat impacts health, safety and comfort. Unlike tornadoes and hurricanes, heat is a silent killer. Last year, more than 330 people in Maricopa County died from heat-related illnesses.

Metro Phoenix alone will lose $2.5 billion a year by 2050 in economic production without action to cool the city and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

“Due to a lack of vegetation, some neighborhoods are 13 degrees hotter than a community two miles away,” says Anna Bettis, TNC in Arizona’s Healthy Cities director. “Academy participants learn about solutions to mitigate heat in their neighborhoods as well as how to develop and hone their stories and advocate for more resources.”

Participants of last year’s Academy said their confidence to advocate for greener neighborhoods increased dramatically. Many grads have since teamed up and applied for and received grants to:  

  • implement a shaded corridor in south-central Phoenix that will include community engagement and education as well as planting of native desert trees
  • plant desert-adapted fruit trees at two sites located in food deserts in central Phoenix
  • partner with a church in south Phoenix to open a cooling center and lead an advocacy and educational campaign with the local community

“I learned we can have an impact, even though we might not be part of a government agency, or large corporation. As individuals, as residents, we can have an impact by using nature,” said Silverio, one of last year’s graduates.

“My biggest takeaway [from the Academy] is that it is going to take people who have that lived experience – who are experts in our own community – to address the issues and bring forth solution,” said Reggie, a 2021 UHLA grad.

Classes are live via Zoom from June to October. Participants can learn at their own pace and build relationships with others in their cohort through a series of live discussions with peers and learning partners. 

Lessons are led by subject matter experts from Arizona State University, City of Phoenix, Maricopa County Air Quality Department, Trees Matter, South Mountain Community College Storytelling Institute, Watershed Management Group, Maricopa County Department of Public Health and Instituto.

The second annual Urban Heat Leadership Academy begins on June 18, 2022. Register here.

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 more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.