BY TFN Staff

We’re excited to share a new TFN report that examines how advocates and their foundation partners are working to build more sustainable and equitable transportation systems across the Midwest — and which includes key takeaways and lessons for funders in the region and beyond.

The Midwest Transportation Landscape Assessment: A Roadmap for Funders explores the transportation challenges and opportunities in seven Midwestern states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

These seven Midwest states will spend a combined $36 billion on transportation in 2023, thanks in part to landmark federal funding bills passed in recent years. This infusion is bringing renewed attention to state-level systems and structures, and to the opportunity to meaningfully reduce climate-destroying emissions.

The need for focused and funded advocacy work to ensure that the dollars are spent wisely and equitably — and that the moment is not wasted — has never been greater.

This report focuses on work to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles and increase public investment in and accessibility of transit, walking and biking. Interviews with dozens of funders, advocates, government staff and thought leaders offer a host of recommendations that can be boiled down to one imperative: Build power among those fighting for change.

Philanthropy has played a critical role in nurturing important work, advancing ambitious goals, connecting and sustaining key players across cities and states, and amplifying the concerns of those most impacted by racial and environmental inequities. Nonetheless, transportation advocacy is deeply under-resourced, particularly when measured against its climate impacts.

The goal of this report is to provide a roadmap for funders to support the growing body of work around transportation reform, including examples of philanthropic engagement and guidance for increased, effective investment.

The Midwest — the heartland of our nation — is rich with infrastructure, industry and ingenuity.

We can show the country what it takes to build a climate resilient and net zero transportation system.

— Tenzin Dolkar, McKnight Foundation

Midwest Transportation Landscape Assessment: A Roadmap for Funders


The Midwest Transportation Landscape Assessment: A Roadmap for Funders was researched and written by Zoe Kircos and Martha Roskowski through TFN’s Mobility and Access Collaborative.

Conducted during winter and spring of 2023, the report is based on interviews with nearly 80 nonprofit leaders, advocates and funders. It was funded by McKnight Foundation, with additional support from TransitCenter and SRAM Cycling Fund.

Martha, who is the program lead for TFN’s Mobility & Access Collaborative and principal at Further Strategies, helps agencies and organizations develop strategies to advance sustainable mobility and equitable access. Before launching Further Strategies, she helped cities build better bike infrastructure at PeopleForBikes and ran the City of Boulder’s planning, programs, and policy efforts, including launching the local bike share program. She led the campaign on the federal transportation bill that created the national Safe Routes to School program.

Zoe, a partner at City Thread, brings 20 years of philanthropy, development, communications and grant management expertise – and her own blend of humor and compassion – to all her work. Building thoughtful collaborations and centering the needs and vision of project partners has been an essential part of her approach since entering the non-profit field. Zoe is recognized for her efforts to integrate equity into shared micromobility and disseminate the stories of people doing innovative and powerful social and transportation justice work in their communities.


➡ Download the full report & executive summary
➡ Access a web-friendly version







Connect & Engage

TFN’s Mobility & Access Collaborative is an action-oriented effort that recognizes the urgency for ambitious and quickly implemented solutions to limit the devastating impacts of climate change. The collaborative brings together place-based, regional and national funders to share stories, examine best practices and explore critical issues.

Do you want to receive newsletters and other resources from TFN’s Mobility & Access Collaborative? Sign up here!

Do you want to connect with fellow grantmakers interested in mobility and transportation issues in the Midwest? TFN’s Member Portal offers a database of funders searchable by geographic region, areas of interest, and more!

(Please note that the Member Portal is only available to those affiliated with TFN member organizations. Visit our Become a Member page for more information on membership categories and benefits.)