TIGER Grants Represent Opportunity for Equity Leaders

By Melissa Wells, Program Associate, PolicyLink

Transportation has the ability to enhance access to life’s critical resources— jobs, schools, grocery stores, and healthcare. Access to transportation infrastructure and services, and the quality of such services are not created equally, however. These differences are vividly illustrated when comparing thriving economic communities with severely distressed communities.155096822_47

Today transit-dependent people face major challenges. According to the American Public Transportation Association, more than 80 percent of the nation’s transit systems have proposed or have already cut service hours, eliminated routes, or increased fares. Improving transportation in ways that are inclusive of the needs of low-income people and communities of color, and that increase pathways to opportunity, requires targeted action by decision-makers. Targeted and equitable investments in transportation may be enhanced further when local decision-makers are equipped with the authority and resources necessary to develop and implement them.

Funding for locally-designed infrastructure projects is currently made possible through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants program administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). TIGER grants provide much needed resources to help state and local decision-makers implement transportation projects that increase economic mobility by way of improved access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation. Projects that increase access to job, education, and training opportunities for low-income communities are featured among TIGER eligible projects.

This grant is also an important opportunity for equity leaders to advocate for resources that benefit low-income people and communities of color. The deadline for applying is April 28, 2014. Contact your local transportation department or metropolitan planning organization and find out if they plan to submit a TIGER application. If you want help, an excellent resource is the Transportation Equity Caucus, co-chaired by PolicyLink and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Learn more about the fiscal year 2014 TIGER grant program and the Notice of Funding Availability here.

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