BY Martha Roskowski, TFN Mobility and Access Collaborative

Eight mobility advocacy groups will receive a total of more than $700,000 supporting their work for sustainable and equitable transportation amid the mounting crises of systemic inequities and the coronavirus pandemic. The first round of the new Mobility Fund leveraged contributions of $351,000 from national funders with equal or greater matches from local foundations.

“We are pleased to support the Mobility Fund and public transit advocates advancing more equitable and environmentally beneficial transportation solutions,” said Brendon Slotterback, Midwest Climate and Energy program officer for the McKnight Foundation, an investor in the national fund. “These grants provide a lifeline to organizations working to protect and enhance individuals’ ability to get to work, medical appointments and other critical destinations and services.”

The current transit crisis disproportionately impacts people of color, people under economic distress and essential workers. Advocates working to protect, preserve and enhance transit, biking and walking at the local level face financial challenges due to the pandemic. The Mobility Fund bolsters these groups and builds local philanthropic support for transportation. The need is great, however. The fund received 26 proposals in the pilot round totaling $1,221,550 in requests.

“This is a rapid response philanthropic investment in a key intersection of transportation, equity and climate,” said Lina Fedirko, Senior Associate on the Transportation Team at the ClimateWorks Foundation, another investor in the national fund. “We’re excited to join partners in supporting the local advocacy infrastructure necessary to push for emissions free, equitable transportation.”

Other national funders for the pilot round include the SRAM Cycling Fund, and The Summit Foundation. “The Mobility Fund grants are matched by local foundations who understand the importance of mobility,” said Darryl Young, Director of the Sustainable Cities Program at The Summit Foundation. “More than 40 local foundations stepped up to offer local matching funds, including 11 funders new to the groups. We thank them for partnering with us.”

Grants provide both general organizational support and collaboration support to strengthen ties between community groups that advocate for mobility.

Grantees from the 2020 round of the Mobility Fund and their matching funders are:

Boston Cyclists Union ($50,000) Advancing Boston’s Sustainable Transportation Plan: To speed implementation of the city’s transportation blueprint, Go Boston 2030, through community organizing. This effort will support Boston’s “Healthy Streets” initiative to quickly implement tactical interventions that improve bus travel and connect bike routes and make short-term fixes permanent. It will also bring a focus on equity and transportation justice to Healthy Streets. Matching Funders: The Helen & William Mazer Foundation; Barr Foundation ($50,000)

East Metro Strong, Minnesota ($37,000) Support Mobility Through Transit + Carshare: To bolster transit ridership by increasing awareness of the ability to use transit and carshare together, and the benefits of doing so. East Metro Strong will collaborate with HOURCAR, the region’s non-profit carshare service, Metro Transit, and community-based organizations, to design and spread messages that produce these results. Matching Funder: The Carolyn Foundation ($37,000)

LINK Houston ($50,000) Seeking Houston’s Shift to Equitable Transportation: To increase transparency around racial disparities and empower communities through engagement and data-informed analysis designed to hold local government accountable for equitably planning and implementing transportation improvements for people in the Houston region. Matching Funders: Frank & Cindy Liu Family Foundation; Energy Foundation; Houston Endowment; Jeffrey Cohen Charitable Gift Fund ($50,000)

Our Streets Minneapolis and Move Minnesota ($37,000) Minnesota’s Climate-Sustainable and Equitable Transportation Pathway: To transform mobility across the state of Minnesota by building deeper relationships and engaging partners to create a long-term campaign and work plan to raise additional funding for a full-scale campaign in 2021. Matching Funder: Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation ($37,000)

Ride New Orleans ($40,000) Equitable Transit for COVID and Beyond: To secure an equitable new transit network using the framework of a soon-to-finish network redesign process, Ride New Orleans. This effort will create targeted strengthening of the transit supporter coalition, a focus on priority community groups and business leaders, and enhanced communications. Matching Funder: Greater New Orleans Foundation ($40,000)

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition ($47,500) Creating Safe Streets in the Tenderloin: To build on extensive community partnerships in the Tenderloin neighborhood that will pilot a community-based, non-policing approach to improving transportation safety in the neighborhood, and advocate for a transformative increase in Slow Streets and car-free space throughout the Tenderloin. Matching Funders: Anonymous; Tenderloin Community Benefit District ($47,500)

Transportation Alternatives ($50,000) Avoiding Carmageddon in New York City: To equitably expand: 1) a citywide network of multi-use car-free streets called Open Streets; 2) secure more miles of busways and bike lanes; 3) refine policy and grow micromobility use, including bike share and e-bikes/e-scooters; and 4) keep the City accountable to Vision Zero. Matching Funders: Lily Auchincloss Foundation; Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund ($50,000)

Transportation Choices Coalition, Washington State ($40,000) Coalition Building for a Transit-Oriented Recovery: To bring together transit, walk and bike advocates, transit agencies, transportation departments, sustainability and environmental justice organizations, land use and planning organizations, social services and social justice organizations, labor, community based organizations, and Native people in weekly video meetings to focus on COVID response, emerging issues and updates, and to strategize on a just, transit-oriented recovery. Matching Funders: Hiller Family Fund; Jean Johnson; Sustainable Communities Funders, via Seattle Foundation; The Bullitt Foundation; Thread Fund; The Satterberg Foundation ($40,000)


Metro Transit’s light rail line in the Twin Cities. Photo credit: Amy Wurdock for The Funders Network

About the Mobility Fund

The Mobility Fund is a new matching grant program hosted by Global Philanthropy Partnership. The long-term goal of this fund is to increase access to and use of active transportation modes and public transit.

The immediate goal of the fund is to meet the urgent need for safe alternatives to public transportation as Americans commute in a pandemic. It seeks to support advocacy efforts for: (1) optimizing transit capacity and safety; (2) recovery funding for transit; and (3) walking and cycling for trips that have shifted off of transit during the recovery period.

About the Mobility and Access Collaborative

The Mobility Fund was conceived and is guided by the Mobility and Access Collaborative, an initiative of The Funders Network. The collaborative is working to reduce transportation related greenhouse gas emissions while eliminating the underlying historic and current inequities in the mobility system. It is led by a core group of staff from foundations who are shaping and guiding work on transportation, including the Barr Foundation, the Bullitt Foundation, The George Gund Foundation, Houston Endowment, TransitCenter, and The Summit Foundation.

About the Author

Martha Roskowski is the program lead for the Mobility and Access Collaborative, an initiative of The Funders Network. She is the founder of Further Strategies, a consulting firm based on Boulder, Col. For more information about the Mobility Fund or the Mobility and Access Collaborative, contact Martha Roskowski
at or 303-895-0951.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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