A new grant program from Smart Growth America will help advance locally driven projects that will reconnect communities separated or harmed by transportation infrastructure and tap available federal and state funds to support them.
Removing divisive infrastructure is largely uncharted territory in the United States, but the need to fix the damage it has caused is imperative. Transportation infrastructure like divisive highways and dangerous arterial roads often separates and harms the communities living around them. This is particularly true for Black and Brown communities, who are more likely to live near large roads and have to live with the environmental, economic, and social harms they cause.
The movement to remove divisive infrastructure has often required communities to be pioneers and the lack of a roadmap and the nature of the work often meant that there were few others to easily learn from. The Community Connectors grant program aims to change that by providing financial resources to help build local capacity and advance these projects, but also by connecting local leaders to experts and other cities attempting to accomplish similar things.
Applications are due before July 15, 2023 at 11:59 p.m.
Who is eligible to apply for the program?
Community Connectors welcomes diverse, multi-entity project teams from small to mid-sized U.S. cities (between 50,000–500,000 in population) to apply for the program. Teams may consist of non-profit community-based organizations and advocates, government agencies (including U.S. territories), and tribes. For-profit entities may be part of the wider project team but are not eligible to receive any of the funds directly or indirectly disbursed through the grant or technical assistance.
What support will selected teams receive?
Selected teams will receive grants of up to $130,000 for capacity building and to advance their projects. In addition, the selected teams will also receive customized technical assistance and participate in a learning exchange program over the next 18-24 months, which includes an in-person convening in Atlanta, Georgia, in November 2023.
What kinds of projects are eligible?
We encourage teams to submit proposals for projects or concepts to reconnect communities separated or harmed by transportation infrastructure through an integrated transportation, land-use, housing and economic development approach. Applications for proposals at all stages are welcome. Teams are not required to have applied for or formalized an application for U.S. Department of Transportation programs.
The Community Connectors program is led by Smart Growth America in partnership with Equitable Cities, the New Urban Mobility Alliance, and America Walks and is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Bonus: New tools for all “Community Connector” advocates
In coordination with this new grant opportunity, we have launched a brand new suite of resources to support all Community Connectors in communities of any size. These are the advocates all across the country who are working to reconnect their communities: fighting freeway expansions, advancing projects to remove old highways, making wide, dangerous arterial roads a little safer for people to cross, or just improving basic infrastructure people depend on each day.
While the new grant opportunity is limited, Transportation for America’s Community Connectors portal is for anyone, providing tools and information for advocates to decode the complex and confusing maze of programs, acronyms, and decision points that determine what gets built with federal and state transportation dollars.
Expect to hear much more about this new portal of resources. Our team will be regularly updating it with new explainers and stories over the coming months.
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