The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), through the Environmental Public Health Tracking and Climate Change and Health programs, is distributing $10,000 grants to three Health Equity Zones (HEZ) and their community partners. This funding is for projects that will help cool schoolyards, address greenspace and shade, and build climate resilience. The projects will also educate both students and teachers about the importance of trees, shade, and clean air for the health of communities.

RIDOH notes that schools located in areas that have low tree canopy (fewer trees) often lack outdoor spaces for children to safely play outside of the sun, have hotter classrooms, and are more vulnerable to excessive heat.

The Tri-County HEZ, Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, and Whelan School were awarded a grant to create a new shade structure for outdoor learning, create a plan for tree cover with an initial tree planting, and install a raised bed garden.