Washington, D.C. (May 22, 2023) — With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Smart Growth America in collaboration with Equitable Cities, the New Urban Mobility Alliance (NUMO) and America Walks today launched the Community Connectors grant program, a new initiative that supports and funds leaders in small and mid-sized communities — in and out of government — to repair the damage of divisive infrastructure.
Grants are available for 15 teams from cities and towns across America to join together in a learning exchange and advance projects that reconnect communities separated or harmed by transportation infrastructure.
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 dividing 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 face the environmental, economic and social harms they cause.
The Community Connectors Program offers grants of up to $130,000 to build local capacity to co-design projects with the most impacted communities so they directly benefit from new transportation infrastructure investments that repair damage. The lack of a roadmap for this type of work makes it difficult to easily replicate prior successes. The Community Connectors program also links local leaders to experts and other cities attempting to accomplish similar objectives in reconnecting communities.
The Community Connectors Program comes at a time when many of our 20th century infrastructure investments are reaching the end of their designed lifespan and their continuing worth is being called into question.
The new $1.2 trillion infrastructure law contained the unprecedented admission that the federal transportation program — largely but not limited to the highway program — has been used to divide communities for decades. The infrastructure law includes a small Reconnecting Communities grant program ($1 billion over five years), and the Inflation Reduction Act builds on that effort with its Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants ($3 billion dollars over five years).
The Community Connectors program helps local communities best leverage these funds (and others) to meet their equity and climate goals.
The Community Connectors call for grant applications open on May 22 and are due before July 15, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. Full application and eligibility details are available at https://smartgrowthamerica.org/community-connectors.
NUMO is a global alliance that channels tech-based disruptions in urban transport to create joyful cities where sustainable and just mobility is the new normal. Founded in 2019 as an outgrowth of the Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities, NUMO convenes diverse allies and leverages the momentum of significant revolutions in mobility to target urban issues — including equity, sustainability, accessibility and labor — impacted by the shifting transportation landscape. NUMO is hosted by WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. For more information, visit www.numo.global
Header image: New York Department of Transportation/Flickr