Keep Cool Somerville

Somerville splash pad
Keep Cool Somerville

Keep Cool Somerville

Keep Cool Somerville is an initiative to improve community resilience to extreme heat. The project began in 2020 as a collaboration between the City of Somerville and MAPC to address the health impacts of climate change.

In 2020, we conducted stakeholder interviews, a PhotoVoice project with resident participants, resident focus groups, and a public survey to understand how extreme heat affects Somerville residents. In 2021, the initiative will build on research and earlier community engagement to support community solutions to address heat.

In the summer of 2021, community organizations and groups were invited to propose small-scale pilot projects to improve resilience to heat, and a handful of projects were funded for implementation. The Keep Cool project team engaged deeply with select community organizations and priority populations to build their capacity to propose and implement projects.

The initiative was advised by the Keep Cool Advisory Committee, an interdisciplinary group of city staff and community representatives, and supported by a grant from the MAPC Accelerating Climate Resiliency Grant Program.

For more information, please contact: Jeanette Pantoja at

Keeping Cool in High Heat

Extreme heat can be deadly, and it disproportionately impacts communities of color and low-income residents. The COVID-19 emergency is making it harder to safely offer cooling solutions that municipalities have used for years. MAPC and the City of Somerville have compiled resources to help out:

2021 Mini Grants

Six Somerville organizations received “Keep Cool Somerville” grants to pilot projects improving resilience to extreme heat this summer. The Community Projects Grant Program had three goals:

  • Build capacity for collaborative heat resilience planning and action among residents, community organizations, and City staff.
  • Learn community concerns and preferred solutions for longer-term planning.
  • Reduce heat health risk and discomfort for vulnerable Somerville residents during the summer of 2021.

The Projects

Learn More

Download the summary report to learn more about the grant program, projects, and recommendations for future heat resilience activities.

Click here to download.

Keep Cool Somerville Cooling Strategies Toolkit

This toolkit of evidence-based and community-supported strategies for long-term summer heat preparedness focuses on populations most likely to be impacted by extreme heat. The strategies in this toolkit include:

  • interventions to promote cooling in people’s homes and other community-serving buildings
  • strategies to enhance access to cooling in the public realm
  • ways to empower residents and community groups to mutually address each other’s cooling needs

PhotoVoice: Images from Community Members

What is PhotoVoice?

This project uses the PhotoVoice approach, which employs photography as a way to inform positive changes in the community. PhotoVoice engages people with valuable lived experience and asks them to take on the role of community photojournalists, capturing images that tell stories about issues affecting their community, like climate change. PhotoVoice participants also capture images that tell stories about what makes their communities strong and resilient, such as the creative ways people find ways to keep cool in the summer heat.