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Request for Qualifications

Developing models for equitable community-led strategies to reduce emissions causing climate change

Issued: February 17, 2023
Deadline for Response: 5:00pm, March 6, 2023
Send responses to: with Transformative Climate Communities in the subject line


With support from The Energy Foundation, the New Jersey Climate Change Resource Center at Rutgers University is collaborating with the New Jersey Climate Change Alliance to provide individual grants of $25,000 to five community-based organizations in locations in New Jersey with overburdened communities for the purpose of demonstrating replicable strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in ways that provide economic, health and/or environmental benefit to those communities. This effort is inspired by the California Transformative Climate Communities Program which “empowers the communities most impacted by pollution to choose their own goals, strategies, and projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution.”


The purpose of this Request for Qualifications is to identify five organizations to which the Climate Change Resource Center at Rutgers University will provide $25,000 individual subawards. The overall goal of these awards is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through community-driven projects that are designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly over time, leverage additional funding sources, and provide health, environmental and/or economic benefits to the community.

The anticipated start date for the awards is April 3, 2023, with an end date of August 31, 2023.

The $25,000 awards are considered planning grants that are intended to support the design and strategic development of initiatives that achieve the initiative’s overall goal and that increase the capacity of the organization to advance ongoing and sustainable climate change actions. A priority for this effort is to ensure benefit to overburdened communities as defined by New Jersey’s environmental justice law (N.J.S.A. 13:1D-157) and as identified by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection at: The New Jersey Climate Change Resource Center will make every effort to provide necessary assistance that will benefit the grantees’ initiatives such as data analysis, meeting facilitation, and research.

Focus areas for these grants include but are not limited to efforts related to:

  • Affordable and sustainable housing;
  • Access to affordable transit;
  • Electric bicycle and ride share programs;
  • Solar installation and energy efficiency;
  • Water-energy efficiency installations;
  • Urban greening and green infrastructure;
  • Bicycle and pedestrian facilities; and
  • Waste reduction and recycling, including food waste.

Eligible organizations include:

  • Community-based organizations;
  • Nonprofit organizations;
  • Faith-based organizations;
  • Coalitions or associations of nonprofits;
  • Community development finance institutions; and
  • Community development corporations.

Organizations that receive the funding must agree to the following:

    • To prepare a brief monthly progress report on a survey form provided by Rutgers University and to participate in a monthly virtual meeting with the Rutgers program manager(s) to discuss progress;
    • To prepare two blog posts that will be posted on the Climate Change Resource Center and New Jersey Climate Change Alliance websites; one in the first two months of the grant and one in the last month of the grant.

To respond to this Request for Qualifications

Qualifications (RFQ) is being sent to several New Jersey organizations that are known to be involved in community-based climate change efforts. Other organizations may apply. Questions regarding this RFQ may be sent by 5:00 PM on March 2, 2023, via email with the subject line Questions about TCC RFQ to: All questions and answers will be posted within 48 hours on this web page (

To apply in response to this RFQ, the organization should complete the attached form and email it to with Transformative Climate Communities in the subject line by 5:00 pm EST on Monday, March 6.

Selection criteria

Five organizations will be chosen to receive the $25,000 awards for purposes of undertaking initiatives designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly over time, leverage additional funding sources, and provide health, environmental and/or economic benefits to the community. Applications will be reviewed based on the following criteria:

1. 25% – Demonstration of the organization’s effective and impactful past and current work regarding engaging overburdened communities on climate change, sustainability, environmental justice and other related issues.

2. 60% – Demonstration of a clear and organized statement of work that includes:

  • The problem or challenge facing the community.
  • The approach, steps, and/or tasks that will be undertaken and a timeline for implementation.
  • The outputs/outcomes that are anticipated at the end of the initiative.

3. 15% – Inclusion of a clear and efficient budget.

Questions & Answers

Below are questions Rutgers University received about this RFQ and the answers provided.

Q1: Can we include indirect costs for the above proposal in our grant budget?
A1: Yes

Meet the Climate Corps

Angel Alguera, Rutgers Climate CorpsAngel Alguera
I am a first-year Atmospheric Science master’s degree student in the Department of Environmental Sciences, and my work focuses on meteorology and applications of climate change resiliency. My professional interests include severe weather forecasting and community preparedness regarding weather-related disasters. I work with Dr. James Shope at the NJ Climate Change Resource Center to produce applied research and reports relevant to New Jersey stakeholders. I currently assist with climate change data analysis, large dataset management, and report writing.

Daniel GilkesonDaniel Gilkeson
I’m a second-year master’s student in the City and Regional Planning Program with a concentration in environmental planning. As a planner, I hope to build more resilient communities in the face of increased risk due to climate change. With the Climate Change Resource Center, I am working on a project to aid the state in an update of its floodplain buyout program, known as Blue Acres, to be more proactive and comprehensive. Prior to this position, I interned in the Community and Economic Development Office at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Association. I’m also an AmeriCorps alum, having completed a year of service working on affordable housing in Nashville, Tennessee.

Benjamin GoldbergBenjamin Goldberg
I am a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in climate adaptation and resiliency planning, with experience in sustainable food systems. I joined the Climate Corps last summer to help develop a GIS-based food waste recovery tool, and currently support community resilience through flood vulnerability analysis. I hold a B.A. from Middlebury College and a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture from UC Santa Cruz.

Surya Jacob, Rutgers Climate CorpsSurya Jacob
I am a graduate student in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School concentrating in community development, focused on housing, land and finance, as well as pursuing the Real Estate Development/Redevelopment Certification. Prior to Bloustein, I worked as an architect and interior designer in India and Canada and am pivoting towards a career in urban planning to engage in extensive projects at the macro level. My interests include affordable and mixed income housing, urban redevelopment, and housing finance, and I am deeply passionate about climate resilience in community planning. Being part of Climate Corps is a foundational step towards helping to solve equity issues in vulnerable communities along the coastal region.

Vineesh Das Kodakkandathil, RutgersVineesh Das Kodakkandathil
I am an urban planner with five years of professional experience in community-led ecotourism development and land use and environment management planning in ecologically sensitive areas. I have worked on and conducted extensive environmental sensitivity analyses, flood and landslide vulnerability assessments, and human impact assessments with the help of GIS tools. I’m currently pursuing my master’s in City and Regional Planning at Bloustein School with a concentration in Transport Planning and GIS.

Douglas LeungDouglas Leung
I am working with the Climate Change Resource Center to identify vulnerable communities and places affected by climate-induced flooding in coastal New Jersey municipalities. I am a Master of City and Regional Planning candidate at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. As a planner, I want to develop strategies and solve problems affecting our cities and communities that enable more equitable outcomes in housing and transportation. I am also a recent Army veteran, having served as a company commander of recruiting in the northern suburbs of Chicago and as a reconnaissance platoon leader in the 10th Mountain Division. For fun, I enjoy weightlifting, running, reading fiction, and board games.

Nihar MhatreNihar Mhatre
I am a master’s candidate in city and regional planning at Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, focusing on urban design and land use planning. Before being accepted at Rutgers, I worked as an architect at JD Studio and had my own architectural practice, Vastu Insights. My research interests revolve around designing and developing climate change adaptation and resilience strategies to promote equity in urban landscapes. Having the opportunity to work on real-world projects through Climate Corps will be an essential step in the development of my understanding of addressing climate change issues in vulnerable regions.

Justin MorrisJustin Morris
Justin is a master’s student at Rutgers University studying discovery informatics and data sciences. He is working under Professor Mark Rodgers to develop an optimization model that will act as a decision support tool for university financial investments with the end goal of eliminating Rutgers’ scope 2 emissions. He is excited to apply his background in data analytics and mathematical programming to help the university fight climate change.

Josephine O'GradyJosephine O’Grady
I am a first-year student in the Master of Public Policy program. Through the Coastal Climate Risk and Resilience (C2R2) certification, I am focusing a significant portion of my graduate coursework on topics including coastal geomorphology, environmental justice, and hazard mitigation planning. Before beginning my studies at the Bloustein School, I received my bachelor’s degree in public health from Kean University, where I first became interested in how coastal dynamics shape lived experiences. I previously served as an intern at the New Jersey State Policy Lab and currently work for the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH) team.

Jessica Parineet Jessica Parineet
I am a first-year Master of Public Policy student at the Bloustein School with a strong interest in climate change policy and related topics. In my previous work, I gained experience in a number of dimensions of climate change issues through carbon capture storage research, urban heat island research, and community level engagement as I am currently on the Student Advisory Board for the Rutgers Office of Climate Action. I am excited to expand on my interests in environmental justice and local level resilience planning through my involvement in the Climate Corps.

Dillon Patel Dillan Patel
I am a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in Environmental Planning and International Development. I have previously worked as an economist performing cost-benefit analysis and conducting monitoring and evaluation for renewable energy in developing countries. I have also spent a summer in western Massachusetts mapping stormwater infrastructure and working with planners to identify suitable places for green stormwater infrastructure.

Moira Sweeder, Rutgers Climate CorpsMoira Sweeder
I am a graduate student enrolled in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School. My concentration is environmental planning with a focus on coastal resilience. Before pursuing my master’s degree at Rutgers, I studied sustainability at Stockton University. During this time, I interned for the PSEG Institute of Sustainability Studies, the Jacques Cousteau National Estuary Research Reserve, and NJ Audubon. I am thrilled to now be a part of the Climate Corps, researching coastal resilience as a part of the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH) team.

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