The “Ten States Project” and why we are focusing on climate risk for poor African-Americans.

Monica Sanders
3 min readSep 11

According to the last U.S. Census, 60% of the African-American population lives in just ten states. Those also happen to be some of the most climate-vulnerable states in the country. Of them, many are also low GDP states and have issues with access to Internet infrastructure. This means people who live there are likely to face a set of cascading risks.

“The Ten States Project” is a research initiative aimed at understanding the climate and disaster risks faced by African-American communities in ten states across the Gulf and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. These states are not only highly susceptible to billion-dollar disasters but also have significant African-American populations. The intersection of climate risk, digital divestment, and racial demographics creates a multifaceted challenge that demands a comprehensive approach. Part of that comprehensive approach is respecting the lived experiences and cultural contours of the people who live in these places.

This is why we are proud to announce not only the start of the project but that it is staffed with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) fellows and fellows with lived experience in the states that we are researching.

Why Diverse Voices Matter — Especially In Research

Diversity in research teams is not just a buzzword; it’s an absolute necessity. When studying issues as complex as climate change and digital inequity, having a range of perspectives is essential. BIPOC communities have often been disproportionately affected by these challenges, making their lived experiences invaluable.

However, the importance of diverse representation goes beyond ensuring that research is inclusive. It’s about respecting the cultural integrity of the communities we are studying. It’s about acknowledging that historical and systemic factors have shaped these communities’ experiences, and we must approach our research with sensitivity and cultural competency.

Mitigating Data Bias

One of the significant challenges in research is mitigating data bias. By working with fellows who have deep roots in the communities we study, we reduce the risk of unintentional bias in our research methods and interpretations. This is a crucial step in ensuring the accuracy and fairness of our findings.

Monica Sanders

Founder, The Undivide Project (www.theundivideproject.org); Activist-Scholar; Professor@Georgetown; Senior Fellow, Tulane Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy