Transportation Reform Funders Group


This working group has a dual-purpose, focused on learning and action:

  • Expanding philanthropic interest, resources, and investment in transportation and land use reform; and
  • Transforming transportation policy and practice in regions and at the federal level.

The Future of Regions and Communities

Decisions about land use policies and practices have profound and long-term impacts on neighborhoods, communities, states, and regions and the people who live there. Public transportation dollars are among the most significant and substantive government investments. Yet very few grantmakers consider themselves to be "land use" or "transportation" funders. Given the leverage point that affecting transportation investments and decisions offers for advancing positive impacts on a variety of issues, more and more funders are working in this realm. The Funders’ Network dedicates attention to transportation policies and practices, recognizing that improving and refor ming transportation policy could deliver substantial returns for the environmental, economic, and social health of neighborhoods and their residents.


In early 2008, the Network reinvigorated the Transportation Reform Funders Group (TRFG) for funders interested in understanding and advancing the promise of transportation reform and engaging a range of grantmakers in efforts to improve policy and practice. Participants in the TRFG including a range of local, regional, and national funders and funders concerned with climate change, economic development, equity and opportunity, health, and other issues that stand to benefit from improving how decisions about transportation investments are made—and the decisions themselves.


To support and encourage funder interest in transportation reform, the TRFG: shares new information and research; highlights promising practices from the field; monitors federal transportation legislation and policies; tracks funder activities; identifies opportunities for engagement at local, state, regional, and national levels; and supports funder collaboration. Information and services are delivered in a number of ways:

  • Topical Learning Network conference calls and content sessions at Funders’ Network and other events
  • National and regional funder briefings
  • Timely .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) postings
  • Technical assistance and strategic consulting for individual funders and collaborations

Many TRFG activities fall into two realms and affect a variety of scales.

Federal Action and Campaigns
Acting on Immediate Needs and Opportunities

Congress is in the process of reauthorizing the Surface Transportation bill, which will provide more than $280 billion in funding over five years. The TRFG is monitoring reauthorization progress and tracking and connecting to national campaigns. For the first time in decades, there is a great opportunity for serious reform to:

  • Make our transportation system really work for people by providing better travel choices
  • Invest more significantly in transit, biking, and walking
  • Help instead of harm energy, climate, health, and affordable housing challenges
  • Spend taxpayer dollars in a wiser, more accountable manner
  • Ensure that our transportation system is making us a more prosperous country

State and Regional Action and Resources
Investing in the Long Term

Implementation of federal reform occurs at two levels: the state level, in Departments of Transportation (for transportation); and regional and community levels, in Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Planning Departments (for land use). By highlighting model efforts of funders working collaboratively around policy and practice reform in locales—with their grantees—the TRFG hopes to provide the opportunity for others to understand points of entry and benefits of engaging in such multi-faceted work. For example, Smart Growth California is an endeavor designed to support funder collaboration and inform implementation of the state’s landmark legislation requiring the transportation and land use sectors to mitigate impacts on climate change—and prove it.