Having announced its goal to become one of the first carbon-neutral cities in California by 2030, the city of Irvine has issued a call to action to participate and is looking for a team of 200 volunteers to kick off the Cool City Challenge.

The Cool City Challenge is a platform that will organize community members to act as team leaders in the creation of Irvine’s Moonshot Climate Strategy, which the city defines as “an ambitious, exploratory, and ground-breaking approach to reach community-wide and inclusive sustainability.”

In partnership with the Empowerment Institute, the city selected as the winner of the Cool City Challenge will receive $1 million in funding and grants.

With a deadline of September 20, the city of Irvine is encouraging community members interested in climate action to take advantage of this program, while helping Irvine create sustainable practices that can be incorporated city-wide.

Sona Coffee, the environmental program administrator for the city of Irvine, said the city is looking for 200 community volunteers to help launch the first phase of the Cool City Challenge. Volunteers are encouraged to apply through Irvine’s Environmental Programs website.

“We’re seeking volunteers – those that have been interested in the climate space, or those that want to learn more about climate action, and what we can do as individuals in our community,” she said. “There’s a couple of pieces to it, the [$1 million] grant overall is part of the Cool City Challenge, one piece is doing outreach with 200 volunteers. The other pieces are designing a strategy for Irvine to become carbon neutral by 2030.”

Coffee added that the 200 volunteers will go through a four-month workshop program that will provide education on different themes of sustainability, such as energy conservation and water efficiency. Coffee said that these workshops will help team leaders demonstrate these environmentally conservative strategies within the community.

“They [The Empowerment Institute] want to see that we have a strong and active community base that is out there learning about these challenges and making these changes on the ground level,” she said. “While that’s happening, we’re designing this really forward-thinking climate plan for the city. Half of the money will go toward the community outreach program with the volunteers, and the other half is to help us come up with a plan.”

While Coffee said she was excited, she emphasized that the deadline for volunteers to join this first phase is Monday, Sept. 20.