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Virginia CZM Program: 2017 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:VA CZM logo



The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia

Project Title:

Refining The RAFT For Broader Implementation

Project Description:

Representatives of coastal local governments identified an important gap in the toolbox of Virginia’s coastal communities dealing with sea level rise is an easy and accessible scorecard to define and measure a locality’s resilience. This project develops a “full service” approach to close this gap: The Resiliency and Adaptation Feasibility Tool (The RAFT). 

The goal of The RAFT is to help Virginia’s coastal communities improve resilience to flooding while remaining economically viable and socially relevant. The RAFT is a multi-year effort in which the decision tool is developed, tested, evaluated and refined, then implemented again before finalized and given a broad formal launch. It will be made available and implemented over multiple years with Virginia’s coastal counties and cities that can most benefit from resilience planning. The RAFT aims to bridge the gap between science and action by catalyzing meaningful action by localities to increase their resilience.

The portion of the project for which the Project Team seeks 309 funding is a vital step in the development of The RAFT. With 309 funding the Project Team will use the outcomes from its first application of The RAFT to three pilot communities to: 1) review and revise the tool for broader application to Virginia’s coastal zone; 2) develop and design a website including review by stakeholders in preparation for  a broader and more formal launch and dissemination of The RAFT and 3) scale up the tool application to a regional landscape level. More specifically, the Project Team will create a revised V3.0 of The RAFT, develop a website and educational materials for The RAFT for wider dissemination, and engage with a region in the second round of The RAFT. 

The RAFT was conceived and developed by an interdisciplinary academic collaborative (“Project Team”), led by the University of Virginia Institute for Environmental Negotiation (IEN), with the William & Mary Law School’s Virginia Coastal Policy Center (VCPC), and Old Dominion University/Virginia Sea Grant (ODU). Building on research of other resilience assessment tools, The RAFT creates a unique approach to helping localities increase their resilience. With funding from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the Project Team developed and currently is piloting the application of The RAFT in three coastal communities.

The RAFT has several unusual components. Unlike many resilience scorecards that are self-assessments, The RAFT begins with a resilience assessment (the “Scorecard”) conducted by the Project Team, lending both independence and academic collaboration to the process. This will bring The RAFT to many coastal communities that may not have the time or resources to conduct a self-assessment. Second, to assure that the Scorecard leads to real action, a simple workshop process will enable a community’s thought leaders to identify community resilience strengths and opportunities, and develop a Resilience Action Checklist (“the Checklist”) with clear goals and an implementation timeline. A final component of The RAFT is that the Project Team and partners (such as lthe PDCs) will continue to work with the community through implementation to provide various forms of assistance, whether technical assistance or help in finding funding sources.

Throughout this project, the Project Team will work with an inter-university academic advisory committee that includes environmental scientists, engineers, architects, landscape architects, planners and marine scientists from ODU, W&M, UVA and Virginia Tech. In addition, state agencies, local governments, and nonprofits will be consulted. However, it has been made clear by local government representatives that the Project Team must retain its academic independence in providing the scores during The RAFT process.


Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Tanya Denckla Cobb, 434.924.1855;

Project Status:

10/1/2017 - 9/30/2018; Project Open

Final Product:


Project Summary:


Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to









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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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