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Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery Grant Program

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NACTO, with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, is offering grants of $50,000 to ten member 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. 

As we inch toward a full reopening, we cannot return to a pre-pandemic “normal” that disinvested in communities and amplified economic and racial inequities. For transportation agencies, this means preparing for, planning, and implementing projects based on and in response to stated community needs with meaningful input and guidance from community members.

Last summer, NACTO offered grant support to ten cities that, in partnership with community-based organizations, were reimagining streets to meet the needs of populations disproportionately harmed by COVID-19. Leveraging community-rooted partners’ local expertise and relationships alongside city staff’s ability to implement projects in the public right-of-way, these 10 city-community partnerships developed COVID-19 information and testing hubs in the public right-of-way; opened streets for outdoor schooling, dining, and walking; and created new outdoor community hubs.

Building on the success of last year’s 10 city-community partner teams, NACTO, with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, is again offering grant support to 10 city transportation agencies that are centering community expertise in COVID-19 response and recovery. Eligible strategies will focus on physical or operational changes to public space, including the roadbed, sidewalks, and other spaces such as parking lots or plazas that are being converted to support a community need. All strategies should respond to the needs of populations disproportionately harmed by COVID-19’s public health and economic impacts.

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2021 Program Report

Coming off the success of the 2020 grant program, NACTO again offered a competitive grant opportunity to ten city transportation agencies in 2021. With funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, city agencies partnered with community-based organizations working to center community expertise in Covid-19 response and recovery.

Read the 2021 grant report (pdf)

As cities continued to face challenges from the pandemic and its exacerbation of pre-existing social inequities and economic hardships within communities it was imperative to center equity, safety, and relationship-building throughout the grant program. Utilizing the strategies outlined in Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery, the 2021 cohort implemented projects to repurpose public and street space, applying lessons learned from the past two years, and found ways to meaningfully plan for and deliver programs based on and in direct response to stated community concerns.

The projects fell into three broad categories, but all revolved around a central theme: enabling a shift in thinking about what issues community members face both before, and because of, the pandemic, and how cities can wield their power to help identify and address them. Read about them in the 2021 report (pdf).

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2020 Program Report

In April 2020, NACTO began to translate the lessons learned from our member-sourced Transportation Response Center into a rapid implementation playbook for cities to respond quickly and equitably to the COVID-19 pandemic. The resulting resource, Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery, mapped out a series of key design principles that cities could use as a model to inform ongoing COVID-19 response strategies:

• Support the most vulnerable people first;
• Amplify and support public health guidance;
• Create safer streets for today and tomorrow;
• Support workers and local economies;
• Partner with community-based organizations; and
• Act now and adapt over time.

NACTO then launched a competitive grant opportunity to ten cities working to put these principles into action. Read the report to learn more about the selected project, which have created space for learning and play, brought information about city programs and COVID-19 to the streets, provided opportunities to listen to the community, and enabled a shift in thinking about what issues people face in this moment—and how cities can wield their power to help identify and address them.

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Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery

NACTO Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery CoverThe COVID-19 global pandemic altered every aspect of urban life in recent months. In response, city transportation officials around the world have quickly implemented new street design and management tools to keep essential workers and goods moving, provide safe access to grocery stores and other essential businesses, and ensure that people have safe space for social/physical distancing while getting outside. These evolving practices will shape our cities as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and are key to our long-term recovery.

Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery compiles emerging practices from around the world and includes implementation resources for cities and their partners. Recognizing the rapidly changing nature of this pandemic, Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery will be revised and expanded to include new strategies, address changing conditions, and provide the best possible information on each design practice.

See the resource online and as a PDF.

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Additional Resources

Blog Posts

Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery 2021: Leveraging Aid and Partnerships for Change (3/10/2022)
Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery Grants: Direct Aid to Cities Working Directly with Communities (12/8/2020)
NACTO Announces Awardees of Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery Grant Program (8/25/2020)

Press Releases

NACTO Announces 10 Grants for an Equitable Recovery Through Repurposing City Streets (6/17/2021)
NACTO Announces Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery Grants, Second Round of Funding for Cities and Community Partners (4/29/2021)
NACTO Announces Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery Grant Program, Helping Cities Transform Streets During the Pandemic (6/25/2020)

Press