Rainproof New York City Fellowship

New York University: NYU – NY: Office of the Provost: Institute for Public Knowledge


New York City
Open Date

Aug 12, 2022

Position Type



Rebuild by Design is looking to select an early professional with experience in policy, research, design, advocacy or organizing to develop and execute a strategy to educate New York City government, city agencies and community members about the benefits of investing heavily in using green infrastructure to reduce the risk of extreme rainfall to our lives and livelihoods. A successful fellow will generate broad support for an equitable rainfall adaptation plan through outreach and education in the forms of meetings, events, and written content. The Rainproof NYC fellow will work with a small team who share a passion for improving communities and the built environment towards equitable adaptation to climate change. 


Climate change is here, and storms that feel extreme now will only become more frequent and more intense. The New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) anticipates that by the end of the century, the City could experience as much as 25% more annual rainfall than today, and a 50% increase in the number of days with more than one inch of rain. The most conservative climate change projections estimate approximately eight inches of sea level rise by the 2050s. However, the worst case scenario projections estimate about 28 inches of sea level rise. Last summer, Hurricane Ida traveled north from Louisiana, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. The rainfall broke historic records for the second time in ten days, though in this instance, it led to 13 deaths – many of which were in their own homes. 

Rebuild by Design quickly responded by inviting 20 experts to author essays that were released in “An Anthology of Ideas,” which highlighted the concrete actions we need to take today. The call to experts revealed that New York City could take cues from international cities in order to adapt to a future with more frequent and intense rainfall. More recently, Rebuild by Design partnered with One Architecture & Urbanism to demonstrate how NYC could adapt to heavy rainfall while creating multiple benefits for communities by choosing green infrastructure over gray. The findings from the first phase of this effort were shared in the report “Toward a Rainproof New York City: Turning the Concrete Jungle into a Sponge.” That effort has been covered by the New York Times, NY1, City Limits, and the Staten Island Advance. This fellowship will build on the Rainproof work to ensure that the conversation around extreme rainfall continues and that it leads to concrete actions for protecting the lives and livelihoods of New Yorkers. 


Working under the Director of Rebuild by Design, this fellow will lead an initiative to raise the bar for equitable climate adaptation that prioritizes the use of green and multibenefit infrastructure. 


● Development and implementation of a multi-pronged strategy aimed at New York City Government and communities to teach the co-benefits of green and multi-purpose infrastructure, demonstrate its benefits, explain its capacities, and raise awareness of the risks and green/blue solutions to increasing extreme rainfall events. Strategy should include, at a minimum, the following aspects: 


● Research and analyze stakeholders in the NYC neighborhoods that have experienced a high occurrence of flooding 

● Track the City’s progress toward reducing the risk from heavy rainfall and managing stormwater runoff 

● Understand international best practices and learn from similar programs in Amsterdam and Copenhagen 


● Educate policy makers in New York City, including City Council Members, Community Boards and legislative staff. 

● Develop and execute public events to create broader public awareness of heavy rainfall risks and solutions across all five boroughs. 

● Work with like-minded local and national organizations and NYC Community Boards to educate about how they can make an impact towards a RainproofNYC.

● Transform the “Toward a Rainproof NYC” report into a “toolkit” for community use.

● Develop and support communications collateral, such as thought pieces (OpEds), a Rainproof NYC website, social media posts and one-pagers.



The ideal candidate will have all or most of the following skills: 

● A bachelor’s degree or three to five years of work or lived experience in urban resilience, climate adaptation, issue-based or political campaigns, coalition building or transforming policy. A master’s degree in urban planning, architecture, environmental studies, government, ecology, or other relevant field can substitute for two years. 

● A track record in developing and executing successful issue-based policy strategies ● A commitment to equity and social justice, with an understanding of the inequitable impacts of climate change 

● Familiarity with New York City government, neighborhoods and political structures ● Possess a competent understanding of environmental issues, climate adaptation practices and nature-based solutions 

● Experience working with communities and civic engagement in NYC or elsewhere and a commitment to center communities in the work 

● Highly organized with logistical coordination and event planning skills 

● Excellent written and oral communication skills including a high comfortability with speaking in public 

● Ability to organize and mobilize collective action 

● Knowledge of the makeup of New York City neighborhoods their uniqueness, and the underlying physical and social lines of difference that make communities vulnerable to climate impacts 

● Must be able to work nights and/or weekends to attend community meetings as needed 

● Experience in developing and maintaining partnerships, coalitions, and collaborations. 

● Strong time management and prioritization skills. 

● Multilingual skills and cross-cultural experience appreciated. 

Application Instructions

Interested applicants should email the following to info@rebuildbydesign.org

● Cover Letter demonstrating why you are uniquely qualified for this specific role, and why you want to work with Rebuild by Design 

● Resume demonstrating relevant experience 

● Writing sample, no longer than two pages 

The review of applications will begin immediately, and will continue until the position is filled. If you have any questions, please email info@rebuildbydesign.org. Only applicants who match the qualifications will receive responses. The position is expected to begin in September, for a duration of 1 year with the ability to renew upon funding availability. 

About Rebuild by Design 

As the world faces rising populations, mass migration, climate change, social injustices, and economic challenges, communities can’t afford to wait until after the next crisis to plan for the future. Through regional competitions, local engagements, research and policy, Rebuild by Design is reimagining the way communities find solutions for today’s large-scale, complex problems by creating collaborations across communities and governments. 

Rebuild convenes global expertise, with regional leadership, and community stakeholders to gain a better understanding of how overlapping environmental and human-made vulnerabilities leave communities at risk. Rebuild’s core belief is that through collaboration our communities can grow stronger and better prepared to stand up to whatever challenges tomorrow brings. 

Rebuild achieves its mission through a four-pronged approach: regional competitions, place-based engagements, research & policy, and education. We are a small team with a passion for social justice and equity in all our work. We recognize that championing true equity and inclusion begins in our own office. We strongly encourage applications from people of color, women, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ individuals. If this position speaks to your interest and experiences, we strongly encourage you to apply. If you need any accommodations in the application process, please contact info@rebuildbydesign.org. 

Rebuild by Design is located at the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU and the fellow will be eligible for NYU’s benefits. This position requires the candidate to be in New York City to attend local meetings, some of which will be on nights or weekends. 

All members of the NYU community are required to be fully vaccinated in order to have access to NYU Buildings and Campus Grounds or otherwise participate in NYU-Sponsored activities, except in limited circumstances. The definition of a “fully vaccinated” individual and the requirements for demonstrating proof of vaccination will be established by NYU from time to time. Individuals may request an exemption from the vaccination requirement for medical or religious reasons, or current pregnancy, by following the applicable procedures established by NYU from time to time. For more details on NYU’s COVID-19 policies, click here.