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The Rockefeller Foundation Grants $4.6M to Bay Area Leaders to Tackle Climate Change through Innovative Competition

Through the Support of The Rockefeller Foundation, Bay Area: Resilient by Design Challenge Aims to Tackle Regions Toughest Infrastructure Needs

The Foundation Brings Model of Award-Winning, ‘Rebuild by Design Hurricane Sandy Design Competition,’ to Bay Area

Oakland, CA – Today, The Rockefeller Foundation announced a $4.6M grant to a coalition of Bay Area leaders to create the Bay Area: Resilient by Design Challenge – a competition that will engage regional innovators, policy makers, designers, architects, developers, and others in developing creative, realistic and long-lasting infrastructure solutions for the San Francisco Bay Area. This innovative challenge is the first-ever to be modeled after the award-winning Rebuild by Design Hurricane Sandy Design Competition, which was pioneered by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation.

Bay Area: Resilient by Design will spur innovative infrastructure solutions for Bay Area communities, so they can withstand and thrive in the face of growing climate change- related threats and seismic, housing and income disparity challenges. The groundwork for this effort was paved in partnership with the San Francisco Planning Department which sought to develop solutions that yield multiple benefits and address today’s and tomorrow’s vulnerabilities and opportunities.

Beginning in April 2017, Bay Area: Resilient by Design will invite designers, architects, developers, and financial supporters to create and begin implementing 10 visionary, realistic, and replicable design solutions. Each solution must help communities in the nine counties touching the San Francisco Bay to adapt to the impact of rising sea level, increasing storms and flooding, and seismic vulnerabilities.

“Across the Bay Area, increasingly frequent flooding is putting more and more strain on aging infrastructure, while continued sea-level rise is threatening coastal resources. These are real and serious challenges, and they require real and serious solutions,” said Dr.Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation, pioneer of 100 Resilient Cities and Rebuild by Design. “We are incredibly excited to take all that we learned from our successful Rebuild by Design program – as well as the best practices developed by our 100 Resilient Cities – to help the Bay Area keep disruptions from becoming disasters. Our hope is this challenge will tap into the innovative and collaborative spirit that defines the Bay Area to solve the growing problems facing our communities today – particularly for the poor and vulnerable.”

“Building off the success we saw with the Rebuild by Design Hurricane Sandy Design Competition we are excited to implement this innovative challenge which will transform the Rebuild model from one of disaster response to resilience planning,” said Amy Chester, Managing Director of Rebuild by Design. “The Bay Area has some of the most vibrant communities and we will look to connect the talent in those communities with the smartest policy makers, designers, architects, and others from across the region and around the world to create realistic solutions to build the Bay Area for the next generation.”

“Tackling our most pressing challenges requires all of us – policymakers, nonprofits, businesses and community leaders – to work together. This is the guiding principle behind Resilient by Design: to focus all of the best minds in the Bay Area on holistically building our resilience,” said Zack WassermanChair of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. “We look forward to not only seeing the forward-thinking design solutions these teams envision for our region, but also watching as they work with our communities and developers to implement their projects. Through this partnership, I know we can all effectively and efficiently adapt for the rising tides to come.”

“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Rebuild by Design surfaced some of the most ambitious and powerful resilience projects we have seen, and I believe that the result will be the same in the Bay Area,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities. “This inclusive process will help design and develop projects that will address the intersection of climate change and other regional challenges such as housing, transportation, and inequality. The Bay Area Resilient By Design process will build on the three Bay Area resilience strategies that have been produced so far – in Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco – and will be an important step for the resilience of the region that it is moving forward.”

Bay Area: Resilient by Design will be divided into two phases: in the first phase, teams will participate in a three-month exploratory research and community engagement period to develop initial design concepts for specific sites. Teams will organically form themselves and be comprised of applicants from around the world. Phase two of the challenge will be a collaborative five-month intensive design phase with teams working in partnership with residents, businesses, community-based organizations, and political leaders to develop more detailed, replicable and implementable infrastructure projects.

Bay Area: Resilient by Design will also forge close ties with The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities network, which is seeking to help 100 cities build resilience to thrive in the face of 21st-century challenges. Home to three cities in the 100 Resilient Cities Network, the Bay Area is already working to identify solutions to the region’s challenges. In 2016, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco released resilience strategies, each of which cited climate change as one of many stresses that – if not addressed – could ultimately put the region in jeopardy. This challenge was created in alignment with the resilience strategies put in place by Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco.

Both Bay Area: Resilient by Design and 100 Resilient Cities fortify communities by fostering innovation and collaboration between the public and private sectors. Bay Area: Resilient by Design will leverage the network’s existing resources and institutional knowledge to accomplish shared goals across the Bay Area.

Each project must bring multiple benefits to these communities and the region while protecting vulnerable populations, enhancing the natural environment, and bolstering critical infrastructure. All the solutions must reflect the innovative and collaborative spirit that defines the Bay Area.


About The Rockefeller Foundation:

For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today, The Rockefeller Foundation pursues this mission through dual goals: advancing inclusive economies that expand opportunities for more broadly shared prosperity, and building resilience by helping people, communities and institutions prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses. To achieve these goals, The Rockefeller Foundation works at the intersection of four focus areas—advance health, revalue ecosystems, secure livelihoods, and transform cities—to address the root causes of emerging challenges and create systemic change. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot—or will not. For more information, please visit

About 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation:

100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each member city who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a resilience strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. 100RC currently has 67 member cities. For more information, visit: 

About Rebuild by Design:

Our cities were built in response to yesterday’s problems. As the world faces rising populations, climate change, and economic challenges, communities can’t afford to wait until after the next hurricane or flood, or ignore chronic stresses such as aging infrastructure and pollution, to plan for the future. Rebuild by Design is reimagining the way communities find solutions for today’s large-scale, complex problems.

Rebuild by Design convenes a mix of sectors – including government, business, non-profit, and community organizations – to gain a better understanding of how overlapping environmental and human-made vulnerabilities leave cities and regions at risk. Rebuilds core belief is that through collaboration our communities can grow stronger and better prepared stand up to whatever challenges tomorrow brings.

Through a partnership with 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), Rebuilds collaborative research and design approach is helping cities around the globe achieve resilience. To learn more visit