The temperature in Phoenix, Arizona, often exceeds 110 degrees Fahrenheit. And as the climate warms, the number of hot days is on the rise.

“It not only impacts our health, our safety, but also our comfort and our economic development in the Phoenix metro area,” says Diana Bermudez of the Nature Conservancy in Arizona.

She says that at times, certain Phoenix neighborhoods are up to 13 degrees hotter than others.

“These neighborhoods, these hotter neighborhoods, are also the ones that have the highest child poverty and they have the lowest percentage of tree canopy cover,” she says.

Planting trees and vegetation can reduce the heat. But Bermudez says residents are often unaware of these solutions or how to advocate for them.

So in summer 2021, the Nature Conservancy is helping launch an online Urban Heat Leadership Academy.

The classes will be taught in both English and Spanish. Participants will learn about strategies for community organizing and reducing urban heat, such as advocacy, facilitation, communication, and storytelling, Bermudez says.

The goal is to prepare people to launch tree plantings and other green projects in their own communities – so their neighborhoods stay cooler as the climate warms.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.