Empowering Resilient Women


The historic divestment of women, especially women of color, results in exposing women to higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change. This story was no different when Miami faced Hurricane Irma in 2017. CLEO’s Empowering Resilient Women was created in its aftermath as a response to the visible gaps that left marginalized communities under-represented and under-supported in emergency preparedness. Women build community cohesion by often playing the role of first responders and caretakers at home. In this way, when women are impacted by the climate crisis, whether through extreme heat, intensified hurricanes, or asthma exacerbated by air pollution… our communities feel the ripple effects.

In 2020, CLEO launched a new version of Empowering Resilient Women (ERW) program in Miami, Orlando, and Tallahassee with food security as an added component after COVID-19 made evident how fragile our food systems truly are.

ERW is based on 4 pillars explored in each of the online workshops: We LEARN, We CONNECT, We PREPARE and We LEAD. Supplementing group discussions online, the cohort meets 2-3 times in person at a local garden to build capacity in their urban gardening skills.




Explored through a gender-equity lens, our participants:

  • Connect the dots on the climate crisis as a threat multiplier impacting our overall health, including an increased understanding of the basics of climate science, especially as it relates to extreme heat, intensified hurricanes, and food security. 
  • Walk away with a greater understanding of climate mitigation and adaptation pathways, including how this translates to their own improved resilience.
  • Understand the multiplication of positive impacts around each climate solution.
  • Receive the hands-on training, resources, and support to start their own urban garden, contributing to more urban green spaces that help break up extreme heat.
  • Are given resources to embrace a plant-rich diet and gain a greater understanding of the health benefits associated with it.
  • Coached on best practices for budgeting, saving, and improving their credit, which helps prepare for extreme weather events.

With the added vulnerability of navigating the pandemic during hurricane season, we focus on increasing extreme weather and financial preparedness too. Participants are given a hurricane resilience kit that includes hurricane preparedness tools like a NOAA crank radio, a solar puff, a rechargeable fan, and feminine hygiene products. It also includes COVID safety measures like reusable masks, face shields, and hand sanitizer.


Through a mix of guided discussion, virtual exercise, and hands-on learning at the urban garden, ERW seeks to achieve its vision of empowering women to make choices that invest in their resilience as individuals and communities at large.

For more information on this program please contact the following

Miami Program: Olivia Collins at info@cleoinstitute.org

Orlando Program: Laura Betts at lbetts@cleoinstitute.org

Tallahassee Program: Karolyn Burns at Kburns@cleoinstitute.org


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