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City Grants for Pandemic Response and Recovery

Grant Opportunity to Support Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery

NACTO, with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, is offering grants of $25,000 to ten member city transportation agencies that are partnering with community-based organizations to reimagine streets, implement ideas, and support ongoing community efforts that meet the needs of populations disproportionately harmed by COVID-19. 

The COVID-19 crisis has amplified the existing crisis of racial inequity, and pandemic response is inextricably linked with the fight for racial justice. As cities begin to ease restrictions on non-essential travel and businesses, and implement projects and policies designed for recovery, we cannot return to a pre-pandemic normal that disinvested in communities and exacerbated economic and racial inequities. For a just recovery, we must center the needs of those disproportionately harmed by COVID-19’s health, economic, and social impacts and seek equitable outcomes in transportation decision making.

During this crisis, many community organizations have been engaging with their members and neighborhoods and are clear on what they need to address urgent issues. Meanwhile, city staff are equipped to design and implement projects in the public right-of-way, as well as navigate government procedures and processes. Working together, city agencies and community-based organizations are well poised to navigate the tension between the speed required for emergency pandemic response, and the thoughtfulness required to ensure that rapid project delivery doesn’t further perpetuate inequity or harm communities most in need of support.

NACTO will award grants of $25,000 to projects in ten NACTO member cities based on the following criteria:

  • Projects must be directly and demonstrably related to COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
  • Projects must center the needs of populations disproportionately harmed by COVID-19’s public health, social, and economic impacts.
  • Projects must demonstrate a high level of project readiness, evident in clear political support, strong community partnerships and/or project ownership, and a high likelihood of being implemented within the 2-month grant timeline.
  • Applicants must demonstrate interest in and willingness to participate in a knowledge-sharing cohort.

Eligible strategies will focus on supporting safe physical distancing while walking, biking, or taking transit; safe mobility for essential trips; and/or economic recovery for businesses and workers. All strategies should respond to the needs of populations disproportionately harmed by COVID-19’s public health and economic impacts. Examples include:

  • Expanding sidewalks to allow physical distancing for people walking, queuing, and using wheelchairs
  • Providing curbside and/or on-street space for aid distribution, testing, or other health-related COVID need
  • Implementing temporary/pop-up bike lanes or adding additional protection for existing bike lanes
  • Implementing tactical transit lanes or boarding spaces to allow more frequent transit service with physical distancing
  • Creating outdoor dining or retail space to support safe operations for local businesses and entrepreneurs

Eligible Applicants

NACTO member cities and transit agencies may apply. Each application must identify the city government agency serving as Lead Applicant with oversight of the project. The Fiscal Agent who receives funds may be the City, a city-affiliated 501c3 (e.g., Fund for City of ___), or an experienced fiscal sponsor (e.g., local community foundation).

We will select cities that represent a diverse range of population sizes, geographic locations, and transportation challenges and opportunities. That said, we are aware that cities with populations under 500,000 have not received direct federal aid during the pandemic, so we plan to prioritize cities with populations of less than 500,000 that haven’t received federal aid, as well as larger cities targeting interventions in neighborhoods that have historically and continue to be underinvested. Each NACTO member may only submit one application.

Application and Deadline

The deadline for this application is 8:00pm ET on Friday, July 10, 2020. Please submit your completed application and any other relevant documents to [email protected] with the subject “[Your city/agency] Application for Pandemic Response and Recovery Grant.”

Download Application (PDF) >


Does my agency have to work with a community-based partner to plan this project? 

Yes. Successful grant applications will provide a thorough description of a community partner-centered project model and analysis of how proposed strategies will provide benefits or alleviate burdens of specific populations and communities.

Can my agency use this grant to match funds or fill a gap in funding for projects or programs that we are already doing?

Yes, your agency can use the grant to fill gaps or match funding for projects or programs that are already underway as long as they meet the selection criteria.

Can my agency serve as a “pass-through” to one or more community organizations? 

Your agency may use the grant to fund some or all of the work that a community partner is doing with you. However, the city agency must be an implementation partner rather than simply a funder.

If my agency can’t receive grant funds directly, can we work with any local partner to receive funds? 

If your agency is unable to directly receive grant funds, the fiscal agent must either be a city-affiliated 501c3 (e.g., Fund for the City of ___) or an experienced fiscal sponsor (e.g., local community foundation). You may not ask an uninvolved community-based partner to receive funds on your behalf.

Are any projects ineligible? 

NACTO will not award grants to projects that do not align with our stated policies, including:

  • Projects that increase capacity for or encourage increased travel in single-occupancy vehicles.
  • Projects that directly fund or require local law enforcement to manage public space.
  • Projects that reduce the availability of options for people walking, biking, or rolling.
  • Projects that diminish access for people with disabilities.

Can my agency apply with a project that doesn’t explicitly have political support from our Mayor or City Manager? 

Projects must demonstrate a high level of project readiness, but that does not necessarily mean that the specific project needs to have demonstrated support from a Mayor or City Manager. You can show that your project has political support from other local decision-makers (City Councilperson, agency head, etc.). You can also show that your project has political support by referencing support for previous projects that were designed and implemented in a similar manner in partnership with a community-based organization.

How long should the application take?

We have designed this application to take no more than 10 person hours total, including writing, review, and approval. If you are finding that this application is taking significantly more time, please send an email to [email protected] letting us know.

Can my agency submit more than one application?

Each NACTO member may only submit one application. If your agency wants to apply for funding to support a multi-site implementation (e.g., pop-up bike lanes in 4 neighborhoods), those can be included in one application. If your agency has multiple project ideas (e.g., a program to support food vendors and an open streets program), you should determine which project best fits the selection criteria for this grant and submit an application for that project. If you are not sure how to decide which project to select, please send an email to [email protected] and we may be able to answer questions that can help you decide.

When does my agency’s project need to be completed?
NACTO will announce the grant winners within several weeks of the application deadline, and agencies should be prepared to complete their projects within a two month window of the award date (mid-to-late July through mid-to-late September 2020).

Can my agency submit an application for a small part of a larger project? 
Yes, your agency can submit an application for a portion of a larger project. However, the project must still meet the selection criteria for this grant, including having a community partner-centered project model.

Have more questions? 
Watch our info session webinar to learn more about this program:

Press Release >
Download Application (PDF) >
See Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery >