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RAND Corporation: Focus on Community Resilience Newsletter

Winter 2011

Periodic updates on community resilience work at RAND

Welcome to the first Focus on Community Resilience newsletter. At RAND, we have been intensively studying the many cross-cutting issues related to how communities can withstand and recover from disasters and other conditions that affect community well-being. We are launching this newsletter to share research findings, resources, and tools with people like you who are working to help communities prepare for natural and manmade emergencies. We hope this newsletter will stimulate an exchange of ideas among community leaders and a forum to share lessons about resilience-building strategies and activities.

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Anita Chandra
Behavioral Scientist

Joie Acosta
Behavioral Scientist

Taking Action

Los Angeles County Project Testing Strategies to Build Community Resilience

Families interacting in the community

The Los Angeles County Community Disaster Resilience project is a collaborative effort sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institute of Mental Health to develop an active network of community agencies that work consistently with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Emergency Network of Los Angeles to strengthen community resilience.

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New Tools & Resources

Emergency Planning Guide for Child-Serving Organizations

school children

The Promising Practices Network on Children, Families and Communities (PPN)—a project operated by RAND—is a unique resource that offers credible, research-based information on what works to improve the lives of children and families. PPN has created an interactive online guide to emergency planning for child-serving organizations. The guide is designed to be helpful to anyone working in a child-serving organization, from planning committees that are working to develop a plan for their organization, to practitioners working directly with children and who play a critical role in implementing plans when emergencies occur. The guide includes a risk assessment tool to help users determine those emergencies for which their organization is at highest risk. Organized around seven steps, the guide presents high-priority preparedness activities and documents to help users customize their emergency plan.

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A Roadmap for Bringing Community Engagement Into Focus

Rebuilding, photo courtesy of FEMA

The resilience of a community rests on its ability to draw upon its resources and restore a state of self-sufficiency following a crisis. A recent RAND community resilience roadmap highlights several activities that can help local governments and organizations engage community members:

  • Actively seek input from local residents and include their feedback in development of plans.
  • Build the capacity of social and volunteer organizations (i.e., NGOs) to engage citizens in collective action to address an issue or problem (e.g., a community development or service project).
  • Include community members in planning exercises, including exercises that focus on the needs of vulnerable populations.
  • Expand and reinforce the connections among social networks and community organizations that act as critical engines for response and recovery activities.
  • Develop a plan that prioritizes establishing social routines and relationships in the community after disaster and specifically outlines key roles for social and community organizations.

Find more details on each of these activities and more in this RAND report:

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Conferences and Events

How Can Communities Strengthen Resilience in the Face of Climate Change?

disaster relief

The RAND Gulf States Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Mississippi–Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, recently convened roundtable discussions to start a dialogue on the effects of changes in climate (precipitation changes, sea level rise) on the resilience of communities. In particular, the roundtables bridged the work of the health and social service sectors with coastal scientists and emergency planners. The following are key lessons learned from the roundtable discussions:

  • Communication strategies should rebrand “climate change” (e.g., changing weather conditions), and talk about adaptation rather than challenges.
  • Communication strategies should include corporations and schools, highlight incentives, and frame messages through a lens of social justice and sustainability.
  • Mitigation or adaptation strategies should include improving early-warning systems (e.g., increased disease surveillance for allergies and asthma), expanding mitigation strategies already in place (e.g., mail carriers check on elderly during heat waves), revising building and zoning codes to take into account rising sea levels and increased flooding, and educating local communities about the potential impacts of slow-moving changes in climate on workforce, economic conditions, and way of life.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Difference Between Individual and Community Resilience?

Community resilience is more than just the sum of individuals' resilience. In a resilient community, individuals need to be socially connected and organizations need be well coordinated. The hallmark of a resilient community is the fabric between individuals and groups—when both elements are working together.

Resilient Communities Podcast

Resilient Communities Podcast

Listen in to this audio series as RAND experts discuss the latest insights into how communities can strengthen their capacity to withstand and recover from disasters.

The first episode features Admiral Thad Allen on Creating a Community of Practice.

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Get Involved

We want to hear from you! Share your ideas about building community resilience so that we can discuss your concerns in future issues of this newsletter or in the podcast. Contact us at

 Learn More on the Community Resilience Topic Page


This newsletter is a product of the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute and is made possible with support from the Charles M. and Mary D. Grant Foundation.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve
policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis.

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