Grant awarded: Kaiping Chen receives Chan Zuckerberg Initiative funding to engage underrepresented communities in climate equity discussions  

A research team led by Kaiping Chen, assistant professor of life sciences communication, recently received $300,000 in funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative for an academic-civic collaborative project to create innovative community engagement tools to listen to the voices of Latina/o/x and Black communities. These tools will be designed to facilitate the co-creation of solutions for carbon dioxide policies and other climate equity issues by coupling deliberation, digital crowdsourcing and data science.

Project description:

Communities of color, including Latina/o/x and Black communities, have disproportionately faced the burden of negative environmental impacts for generations. Climate change is expected to continue to exacerbate these impacts and introduce new environmental-related harms. Yet, these communities’ voices are not represented equally in social and digital discussions because of digital, social, and political communication barriers. Climate scientists have recently emphasized the need to develop and deploy carbon removal technologies to limit the potential harm from climate change. While many resources have been deployed to develop technologies, little effort has been made to understand the concerns, hopes, or attitudes of historically excluded communities regarding these technologies and their possible deployment. Using carbon dioxide removal policy and technologies as one of the case studies, this project aims to tackle broad research questions: How can we design effective deliberation tools to listen and respond to people’s opinions about climate change, especially those that are underserved and under-resourced? How can coupling deliberation and digital crowdsourcing designs empower and amplify the voices of underrepresented communities in sustainability policymaking?

There are two main components of the project: 1) to host two offline deliberation forums with local Latina/o/x and Black communities and 2) to build and evaluate a crowdsourcing platform to facilitate dialogue between community members, community NGOs, and local policymakers in a sustainable and long-term manner to explore how local governments can co-develop policies and programs that are responsive to the needs of communities of color.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded in 2015 to help solve tough societal challenges — from eradicating disease and improving education, to addressing the needs of communities. More information at