Small grants to help make walking, rolling, public transit more accessible

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Funds going to improve access to walking, rolling and public transportation

Dec. 27, 2022

For more information, Shelley M. Snow, Communications, 503-881-5362

SALEM – ODOT’s new Innovative Mobility Program will be sending more than $87,000 out the door in the next few weeks for helmets and locks, transit passes, adaptive bikes and much more. The Innovative Mobility Program has a special focus on social equity and helping members of historically excluded groups get where they need to go more quickly, cheaply and safely. The funds are aimed at improving safety and access for those who walk and roll, while also making it easier to use other transportation modes besides driving alone.

“The Innovative Mobility Program will support both existing and new projects that help expand underserved communities’ access to safe and affordable transportation,” said ODOT Public Transportation Division Administrator Karyn Criswell.

Over the past several months, ODOT’s Public Transportation team reached out to various community based organizations, transportation providers and members of the public to learn what kinds of services the Innovative Mobility Program could provide. One result is the micro-grant program.

“We heard many people have immediate needs but struggle to hear about or apply for funding on time,” Criswell said. “So our $5,000 micro-grants will be issued on a rolling basis with no deadlines to ensure that there’s always opportunity to access funds.”

The Innovative Mobility Program, or IMP, will also include contracted services, a large competitive grants program, and technical assistance for prospective applicants and grant awardees. Funding for the program, totaling $20 million, comes from a combination of state and federal dollars.

Small organizations often serve communities with the greatest need but struggle to produce grant applications that can compete against larger organizations that serve the general population,” said Criswell. “So we’re designing a grant application process that prioritizes need and will include support for these organizations so they can be competitive in an open, public process.”

State, regional, and local governments, public transportation providers, public schools and school districts, Tribes, 501(c)(3) certified nonprofits and businesses providing community services are all eligible to apply for the IMP, which has two overarching goals:

  • Reduce climate impacts by improving access to public and active transportation.
  • Invest in historically underserved groups by helping them get where they need to go.

The program can fund many transportation-related activities including pedal and electric bike lending libraries and bike shares; transportation “wallets” (which offer passes and credits for use on transit, bike-share, e-scooters, ride-share, and car-share in one package); carpools and vanpools; equipment such as bike locks and helmets; training and much more.

ODOT staff are currently standing up the other components of the IMP. Large grants and contracts are expected to open in 2023. In the meantime, IMP micro-grants are available on a rolling basis and the application is available on the website.