Regions Innovating for Strong Economies and Environment Program

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Regions Innovating for Strong Economies & Environment (RISE) is developed by a partnership between NCORR and the NC Rural Center, RISE aims to support resilience primarily in the storm-impacted regions of North Carolina by:

  • Providing coaching and technical assistance to regional partners to support community vulnerability assessments, identify priority actions to reduce risk and enhance resilience in their region, and develop paths to implementation.

  • Developing the North Carolina Resilient Communities Guide, as a statewide resource that provide tools, guidance and opportunities for building community resiliency.

  • Hosting regional leadership training workshops that emphasize resilience as a tool for community economic development.

RISE is building a foundation for a more resilient future in North Carolina. At the end of the program, 200 emergent leaders in Eastern North Carolina will have the tools to incorporate resilience in community and economic development. Communities statewide will be able to use the North Carolina Resilient Communities Guide to enhance their resilience, and storm-impacted regions will be prepared to implement priority resilience activities. These activities will support existing efforts such as regional hazard mitigation planning and strategizing for comprehensive economic development. Over time, and as capacity increases with staff and funding, the NC Resilient Communities Program expects to provide opportunities across North Carolina.

Each RISE Program component will serve different areas. The Homegrown Leaders initiative will serve the counties illustrated in the map below, while the North Carolina Resilient Communities Guide will serve the entire state. The Regional Resilience Portfolio Program will serve regions that include counties in the eastern half of North Carolina impacted by Hurricane Florence.

A Commitment to All Communities

Natural hazards and climate change  do not affect all people equally. Some residents live in more vulnerable places. This vulnerability may be compounded by issues of race, age, wealth, primary language, or physical ability, among other factors. As set forth in the 2020 North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan, climate resilience requires that all of our state’s residents have access to opportunities and capabilities that enable healthy and secure lives. RISE strives to center environmental justice and all kinds of diversity as integral components in leadership training, guidebook development, and regional portfolio creation.

RISE seeks to ensure that rural communities, communities of color, and low-income communities equitably share the benefits of the program and projects that are developed as a result of RISE. A fundamental principle that guides RISE’s work is that everyone should have the same degree of environmental protection and equal access to the decision-making process of this program. To ensure these goals, a vital component of RISE is effective stakeholder engagement.

Stakeholder Engagement and Collaboration

Input from stakeholders will play a crucial part in the development of the North Carolina Resilient Communities Guide and Regional Resilience Portfolio Program. With support from the steering committee, project partners will collectively determine issues of relevance and develop a first draft of relevant stakeholder categories. Regional project teams will use the following stakeholder engagement methods to understand the issues further.  

  • Steering committee

  • Focus groups by invitation

  • Effective inclusion of other representatives

  • Surveys

  • Open feedback on specific items to a wider audience

  • Input from stakeholders will play a crucial part in the development of the North Carolina Resilient Communities Guide and Regional Resilience Portfolio Program.

Partners and Funding

RISE’s primary partners are NCORR and the NC Rural Center, with several other partners across the nonprofit and government sectors. The NC Rural Center oversees leadership development and regional coaching and facilitation components, while NCORR manages the development of the Resilient Communities Guidebook and the provision of technical assistance to regional partnerships. RISE is also supported by the North Carolina Regional Councils of Government.

RISE is funded by a $1.1 million U.S. Economic Development Administration grant, with support from both NCORR and the NC Rural Center. In addition, the Duke Energy Foundation has committed $600,000 in grant funding to support the Regional Resilience Portfolio Program. The foundation plans to work with regional RISE partners to provide Duke Energy Accelerator Grants for priority local projects identified by the program.