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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 Grant Details

NACTO will award grants of $50,000 to projects in ten NACTO member agencies, and will base selections on the following criteria:

  • Projects must be directly and demonstrably related to COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
  • Projects must be physical or operational changes to public spaces.
  • Projects must center the needs of populations disproportionately harmed by COVID-19’s public health, social, and economic impacts. Needs assessment can be based on existing (pre COVID-19) and/or new community engagement-based data. Recent and updated engagement specifically directed at the proposed project within the context of COVID-19 needs is strongly encouraged. See Section 3 of this application for further discussion of project engagement expectations.
  • Projects must be developed with a community-rooted partner who holds expertise and relationships with local residents.*
  • Projects must demonstrate a high level of project readiness, evident in clear support, strong community partnerships and/or project ownership, and a high likelihood of being implemented within the grant timeline.
  • Applicants should be interested in and willing to participate in a knowledge sharing cohort.

* We are looking for city agencies partnering with a community-based, not-for-profit organization with a mission that includes addressing the needs and issues in the community it serves, and/or city agencies partnering with individuals who live and/or work directly in the community. NACTO welcomes applications that include additional partners that do not meet these definitions, such as local chambers of commerce, business development organizations, or elected officials representing the community. If you are working with a partner who is rooted in the community, but you are concerned that they don’t meet the above descriptions, please feel free to email [email protected]

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.

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.

We will select applicants that represent a diverse range of city population sizes, geographic locations, and transportation challenges and opportunities. Agencies that received funding through this program in 2020 can apply again, but preference may be given to new agencies that were not able to participate in the first year. Each NACTO member may only submit one application.

Application and Deadline

The deadline for this application is 8:00 pm ET on Thursday, May 20, 2021. Please submit your completed application and any other relevant documents to [email protected] with the subject “[Your city / agency] Grant Application.”

Application available here (pdf) >>

FAQs

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.

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.

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 your agency is unable to directly receive grant funds, you may work with one of the community partners involved in this project to receive the funds on your behalf. You may not ask an uninvolved community-based partner to receive funds on your behalf.

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.

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 support from other decision-makers within your agency and from community leaders and members (City Councilperson, agency head, etc.).

NACTO will announce the grant winners within several weeks of the application deadline, and agencies should be prepared to complete their projects within a five month window of the award date (mid-June through mid-November 2021).

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.

We anticipate that this application will take approximately 20-25 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.

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.

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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.

 

 

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