MAPC and Mystic River Watershed Association Launch Second Round of COVID-Safe Cooling Program
In the spring of 2020, people were facing plenty of new challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic: preventing themselves from contracting the disease, conforming to social distancing requirements, wearing face masks, and avoiding indoor gatherings among them. But as the weather got warmer, another challenge was developing: how to keep cool while also staying safe during a global pandemic.
Anyone without access to or the ability to pay for air conditioning suddenly had far fewer places to go to keep cool during heat waves. Public libraries, cooling centers, pools, splash pads, and movie theaters were shut down. Outdoor recreation spots and beaches were at capacity, had complicated registration systems, or were otherwise more difficult to access than usual – and the public transit some might use to get there suddenly felt risky. Additional challenges like long outdoor lines and wait times at food banks and grocery stores exacerbated exposure to heat.
When looking deeper at COVID-19 case data, as well as MAPC’s map of urban heat islands, MAPC found that those communities most impacted by COVID-19 were also those most at risk for urban heat due to long-term social disinvestment.
To respond to this, MAPC and the Mystic River Watershed Association launched a “COVID-Safe Cooling Strategies” project with emergency funding provided by the Barr Foundation. The partnership provided technical assistance and funding to seven communities most impacted by both COVID-19 and extreme heat: Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn, and Revere. In 2020, the program provided support to five municipalities and eight community-based organizations (CBOs) to implement local cooling projects and educational programs. Last year’s projects including installing hydration stations, adapting cooling centers for social distancing, distribution of personal cooling devices like air conditioners and fans, and electric utility assistance. MAPC also developed a social media and communications toolkit in several different languages, to be used by grantees and partners.
In 2020, the City of Chelsea partnered with Greenroots to install multiple “hydration-stations” around the City using COVID-Safe Cooling program funds. Source: Greenroots.
On April 1, 2021 MAPC and MyRWA launched a second round of “COVID-Safe Cooling” and will continue to provide technical assistance and funding to municipalities and CBOs this summer.
Community-based organizations from Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn, and Revere (as well as municipal departments in each of those cities except Boston) can apply to receive financial support and technical assistance for projects that provide relief and resilience from extreme heat.
Projects can fall into four different categories:
- Cooling at Home
- Cool Public Places
- Cool Communications
- Investments in the Future.
Applicants are encouraged to collaborate with others and pilot innovate project ideas when able to.
Expression of Interest:
Interested municipalities and CBOs should fill out the Expression of Interest Form by April 12 to receive an initial technical assistance call from the project team. While the EOI is not required to submit a full proposal, it is highly encouraged. MAPC and the Mystic River Watershed Association will release a full Request for Proposals on May 4, and proposals will be due on May 21. Applications will be accepted after May 21 on a rolling basis.
For additional information on this program please contact: Sasha SShyduroff @mapc.org.