Can you guess which U.S. state has recently invested $65 million in strengthening its communities’ resilience to the climate crisis?

On August 31, 2021, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced $21 million in grants to cities and towns through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program, representing a doubling of the program budget since last year.

To date, this brings total awards through the MVP program to over $65 million. The grant program, which was created in 2017 as part of Governor Charlie Baker’s Executive Order 569, provides communities with funding and technical support to identify climate hazards, develop strategies to improve resilience, and implement priority actions to adapt to climate change.

The MVP program is a vital tool in our efforts to prepare and strengthen our coastal and inland communities to address the impacts of climate change,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We are thrilled to welcome 16 new towns to the program as they take important steps in planning for the future, and to award funding to 66 priority implementation projects that range from upgrading or removing high-risk dams and culverts to investing in Environmental Justice communities.

The grants are in addition to the Administration’s proposal to invest $900 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into key energy and environmental initiatives, including $300 million to support climate resilient infrastructure.

With the ongoing success of the MVP program, we are pleased to double the program’s funding this year to support local climate change resilience projects throughout the Commonwealth,” said Governor Baker. “Massachusetts communities are implementing important, nation-leading efforts to adapt to climate change. Our Administration is committed to working with municipalities across the Commonwealth to tackle these urgent challenges, which is why we have proposed a significant increase in funding for climate adaptation projects through our federal ARPA spending plan.

Through this latest round of funding, 93% of Massachusetts cities and towns, or 328 municipalities, are now enrolled in the MVP program. The program pairs local leadership and knowledge with a significant investment of resources and funding from the Commonwealth to address ongoing climate change impacts, such as inland flooding, storms, sea level rise, and extreme temperatures.

The MVP program has been recognized as a national model for building climate resiliency through strong state and local partnerships, and we are proud to have enrolled 93% of the municipalities in Massachusetts in this critical effort,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Every region in Massachusetts experienced extreme weather throughout the summer, including excessive heat, record precipitation, and flooding, and the MVP program offers vital technical and financial assistance to help municipalities address vulnerabilities and create stronger, more liveable climate resilient communities.

Of these funds, $20.6 million was awarded to 66 cities, towns, or regional partnerships to implement projects that build local resilience to climate change in the Commonwealth’s fifth round of MVP Action Grant funding. Additionally, $400,000 was awarded to 16 towns to pursue a community led planning process to identify vulnerabilities to climate change and priority actions. When complete, these municipalities will be eligible for the next round of implementation funding.

The grant allows Easthampton to act on our deep commitment to a resilient, environmentally aware ecosystem,” said Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle. “The Cherry Street project serves as a model for future grants.

The $21 million announced today will go towards MVP Planning Grants and Action Grants. Planning Grants support communities in working with a state-certified technical assistance provider to lead a community-wide planning workshop to identify key climate-related hazards, vulnerabilities and strengths, develop adaptation actions, and prioritize next steps. Results of the workshops and planning efforts inform existing local plans, grant applications, and policies.

These grants provide critical funding to Easthampton, Southwick, and communities throughout our region for initiatives that focus on the consequential impacts of climate change,” said State Senator John Velis (D – Westfield). “Projects funded by the MVP program, like the Cherry Street restoration in Easthampton, allow our municipalities to address local climate hazards and build a more resilient and environmentally friendly infrastructure.

Communities are then eligible for competitive MVP Action Grant funding to implement priority on-the-ground projects.

I am very excited that Easthampton is receiving this MVP Action Grant,” said State Representative Dan Carey (D – Easthampton). “This grant for Cherry Street’s green infrastructure and slope restoration construction is a perfect example of the partnership between state and municipal government. The state funding from this grant will help to make necessary improvements in our community. It is crucial that we address climate change on the local level and this project will make the area more resilient to ongoing and future climate change impacts.

Projects are focused on proactive strategies to address climate change impacts and may include retrofitting and adapting infrastructure, actions to invest in and protect environmental justice communities and improve public health, detailed vulnerability assessments or design and engineering studies, stormwater upgrades, dam retrofits and removals, culvert upgrades, drought mitigation, energy resilience, and projects that focus on implementing nature-based solutions such as wetland restoration and floodplain protection.

Photo courtesy of the office of Governor Baker.

Learn more about the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program.

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