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OCRA announces partnership with Indiana University to provide Beat the Heat program

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

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INDIANAPOLIS (March 2, 2021) – The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs announced today a collaboration with the Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI) to invite local Indiana governments to apply for the Beat the Heat program. The goal of the program is to create sustainable, long-term projects, programs, and educational materials that help residents cope with hot days and the public health impacts associated with the heat. 

“This collaboration with ERI and our community partners will provide countless innovative tools and resources to better improve the health of our rural communities,” said Denny Spinner, Executive Director of OCRA. “Working with vulnerable populations will be at the center of this project which ensures no one is left behind during a hot summer day. OCRA is excited to build a new partnership with the experts at ERI to provide this opportunity.” 

For this program eligible applicants are non-entitlement local units of government to include towns, counties and cities. Two communities will receive up to $121,940 to fund a full-time staff person for two years and costs associated with program activities. This staff person, with support from ERI, will:

  • Assess community needs related to heat relief;
  • Develop marketing and educational materials;
  • Outline community engagement techniques; and
  • Develop and implement heat relief strategies.

"Extreme heat is responsible for more annual fatalities in the United States than all other natural disasters combined,” said Dana Habeeb, an assistant professor at IU’s Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering and the program’s principal investigator. “With temperatures increasing across Indiana, we are excited to work with local government leaders to create tailored strategies designed to protect at-risk residents. The communities selected for the Beat the Heat program will not only be preparing and empowering their local communities to respond to the challenges of extreme heat, but also pioneering a model that could guide heat mitigation strategies for other communities throughout the state of Indiana.”

Each community will receive hospital and emergency management services data related to how hot days and nights impact residents’ health as well as a map of the community’s vulnerable populations. Selected applicants will be required to contribute $7,500 toward the project.

An informational webinar will be held at 11 a.m. ET Monday, March 15 to further explain this opportunity and application process.  Registration is available at: https://go.iu.edu/3FjA.  Applications are being accepted through Friday, March 26, 2021.

More information can be found at https://eri.iu.edu/who-we-work-with/local-governments/beat-the-heat.html. Communities may also contact the respective OCRA Community Liaison.


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About Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute
Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute brings together a broad, bipartisan coalition of government, business, nonprofit and community leaders to help Indiana better prepare for the challenges that environmental changes bring to our economy, health, and livelihood. Launched in 2017, ERI is working to deliver tailored and actionable solutions to communities across the state of Indiana.

About the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs
Under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch, who also serves as the Secretary of Rural Development, the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ (OCRA) mission is to work with local, state and national partners to provide resources and technical assistance to assist communities in shaping and achieving their vision for community and economic development. For more information, visit ocra.in.gov.

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