PRESS RELEASE Governor McKee, DEM, CRMC and RIIB Announce the Availability of Nearly $4M in Grants

    April 09, 2024



     Governor McKee, DEM, CRMC and RIIB Announce Availability of Nearly $4M in Grants for Resilience Projects to Protect Coastal Habitat Shoreline Access on Public Lands

    PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) are jointly soliciting project proposals for the Ocean State Climate Adaptation and Resilience (OSCAR) Fund Program. In 2021, the Rhode Island General Assembly adopted legislation establishing the OSCAR Fund as a program to be administered jointly by DEM, CRMC, and the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (RIIB).


    Funding was allocated to support the OSCAR program in June 2022 and rules governing the new program were adopted in 2023. The program provides financial assistance in the form of grants for adaptation and resilience projects that protect or enhance coastal or riverine habitats to address the impacts of climate change. The program is limited to projects on public lands, including lands that provide public access to shorelines and riverbanks. Eligible adaptation and resilience projects include those on public lands that protect or enhance coastal or riverine habitats to address climate change impacts. The program also includes certain projects that protect public access to shorelines or riverbanks and repair of existing shoreline protection structures in public parks. The OSCAR program has nearly $4 million in state funding available that will be awarded on a competitive basis. The deadline for submittal of proposals is Friday, May 17, 2024, at 5 PM. Instructions are detailed in the full Request for Proposals (RFP) document.


    “Rhode Island is a leader in climate change action through our work to increase clean energy and energy efficiency, grow the clean energy economy, increase the number of electric vehicles on our roadways, protect land, and support climate change resiliency projects in local communities which the OSCAR grant program will help fund,” said Governor Dan McKee. “Together we are taking collective action to protect both our communities and environment from the negative impacts of climate change so that we have a resilient Ocean State for future generations.”


    “We tend to think of infrastructure in terms of roads and bridges. But the next generation of infrastructure that we’re going to have to invest in are the places where our shorelines are at risk due to the effects of climate change,” said Senate Majority Leader Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln), who sponsored the Senate bill that created the fund. “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects that in the next 15 years, sea levels could potentially rise an additional foot, two feet by 2050, and nine feet by 2100. I’m glad to see this fund is ready to go to give these communities the help they need to be ready for anything.”


    “As climate change begins to impact our infrastructure on a daily basis, it is gratifying to see the OSCAR Fund ready to help our communities to improve the climate resilience of not only our coast, but rivers and streams as well,” said Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick), who sponsored the House bill that created the fund. “I hope the communities that need it, utilize this resource to help secure our climate future.”


    “Rhode Island faces consequential and diverse impacts from climate change, especially coastal hazards like sea level rise and storm surge given our over 400 miles of coastline,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “The OSCAR Program will provide funding that will help protect and enhance the functions that coastal and riverine habitats play in mitigating the worst effects of projected climate change impacts in our communities.”


    “The CRMC is pleased to be working with DEM and RIIB on this important program, which will serve as another valuable tool to increase the state’s resilience to climate change, as well as protect public access to the shore in Rhode Island,” said CRMC Executive Director Jeff Willis. “Rhode Island is seeing, in real time, the impacts to our shoreline and threats to public access as sea levels rise. The OSCAR Program will hopefully have far-reaching positive impacts in the coming years.”


    “The new OSCAR fund is another important tool available to our city and town partners to invest in green and resilient infrastructure solutions that increase resilience to the growing impacts of climate change,” said RIIB Executive Director William Fazioli. “We are pleased to partner with DEM and CRMC, and to help spread the word about the OSCAR Fund to our municipal partners."


    “Working together with our partners in CRMC and RIIB, the OSCAR Fund will support efforts to protect our state from climate change impacts with an emphasis on enhancing or restoring crucial coastal and riverine habitats,” said RI Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) Kim Korioth. “Rhode Island is taking action to minimize anticipated climate impacts, and I remain focused on helping our communities and environment adapt and adjust to the current and future effects of climate change.” 


    OSCAR Program Information Session


    DEM is hosting a virtual information session via Zoom on Monday, April 15 at 3 PM to provide information on this funding opportunity and answer questions. To participate, register here via Zoom. Registrants will be sent the link for the Zoom call.


    For more information about the OSCAR Program, please contact Sue Kiernan, Administrator of DEM’s Office of Water Resources at Sue.kiernan@dem.ri.gov or 401-537-4246 OR Kimberly Korioth, RI Chief Resilience Officer at Kimberly.Korioth@dem.ri.gov or 401-633-4578.


    For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.