By Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome

Senior Program Officer, Kresge Foundation 


Through the Kresge Foundation support for TFN’s Urban Water Funders and Partners for Places green stormwater infrastructure grants, TFN has been honored to participate in the Kresge Foundation’s CREWS learning community. In this post, originally published by Water Online, Dr. White-Newsome shares how leaders in the CREWS Initiative are advancing water equity and moving the sector forward.

The water industry and the communities it supports are beset with many problems when it comes to failing infrastructure and systems; but some have it worse than others.

You could call it a triple threat. After decades of deferred investment, America’s water systems are in desperate need of updating and repair. Now, those systems are battered as never before by climate change. As a warming planet brings more frequent and intense storms, our nation’s water infrastructure — sensors, SCADA systems, miles of pipes, pumps, and tunnels — is being pushed to the limit. And deeply entrenched inequities ensure that low-income communities and people of color suffer the greatest impacts — from devastating floods to skyrocketing utility rates.

The connections among water, climate change, and inequity are clear. But until recently, that intersection went unexplored and unaddressed. The Kresge Foundation set out to change that: Since 2016, the Foundation has invested some $14 million in the Climate Resilient and Equitable Water Systems Initiative (CREWS).

CREWS works to transform urban stormwater and wastewater systems, so that they will be able to provide reliable, equitable, and innovative services to communities, despite the uncertainties introduced by climate change. To that end, CREWS deploys grants and social investments (e.g., low-cost loans, financing) to support green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) in low-income communities and communities of color that experience repeated flooding.

As importantly, CREWS strengthens human infrastructure, by bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders: water utility leaders, municipal GSI managers, community organizers, engineers and project developers, environmentalists, and others. The initiative focuses on making sure those stakeholders have the technical information they need to develop climate-informed, equitable water solutions, as well as the knowledge and tools needed to address the systemic and institutional racism that pervades the water sector — and our nation as a whole.

You can read the entire post here.

About the Author

Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome is a senior program officer at The Kresge Foundation, a national private foundation headquartered in Detroit. She is an alum of TFN’s PLACES fellowship, a year-long leadership development program for professionals in philanthropy to better understand issues of race, equity and inclusiveness — and to then translate those skills and knowledge in to their grantmaking practices. She is active in TFN’s Urban Water Funders and GREEN working groups.