Equitable change across the country, from New York to Kansas to Oregon
America Walks’ Community Change Grant program is a popular initiative started in 2015 that offers $1,500 community stipends to US-based projects supporting healthy, active, engaging spaces for people to live, work, and play. America Walks and other organizations within the Ever Body Walk! Collaborative work with grantees to complete their projects and report on their results to like-minded community groups.
Established in 1996, America Walks is a national non-profit that leads the way in providing support, training, and technical assistance for communities striving to make walking safer, more equitable, accessible, and enjoyable. In 2018, the organization received more than 600 applications for the Community Change Grant and selected 18 projects to fund for the 2019 year. Here are a few highlights from this year’s grantees.
Testing safer street designs in Manhattan, Kansas
The Flint Hills Wellness Coalition (FHWC), in partnership with the Flint Hills MPO & the City of Manhattan, are testing new street and intersection designs quickly, inexpensively, and temporarily with Tactical Urbanism toolkits, which were funded with the America Walks grant. These toolkits include reusable supplies like traffic cones, tape, and paint to create traffic calming features like crosswalks and painted curb extensions. These projects will be community events, allowing community members to experience the project and how it changes the street first-hand, and then provide immediate feedback to help ensure project success.
All paths lead to the crosswalk in Shinnecock Indian Nation
In the middle of the Shinnecock Indian Reservation in Long Island, New York, Church Street is lined with many essential community services, but is right on a blind curve that makes crossing the street precarious; in fact, some people would actually drive from one building to another rather than walk across the road, it was that dicey. The Church Street Crosswalk project aims to create a safe crosswalk area to encourage walking across the street, both for those accessing services as well as children accessing the nearby playground and basketball court.
The project includes signage and speed bumps, as well as removing overgrown vegetation to create a grass sidewalk (since the shoulder is so narrow) and painting a crosswalk. The goal is to make the path to the crosswalk easier to see so that more people will use it—and drive less.
Read more about this project on page 2 of the Community Change report.
School zone crosswalk safety in Velva, North Dakota
Velva, North Dakota, is combining the forces of the City and Velva Public School to improve student crossing. After initiating a volunteer crossing guard program and adding sidewalks and fencing, the project team is using the America Walks grant to paint and repaint crosswalks near the school, adding signage for drivers in advance of the crosswalks, and additional signage for crosswalks when volunteer crossing guards are absent.
Walk audits in Akron and Portland
Neighborhood Network, a program of Habitat for Humanity of Summit County in Akron, Ohio, will conduct Neighborhood Walk Audits to gather information on the sidewalks, streets, and general walking experience in the Middlebury neighborhood. The grant will allow the team to recruit, train, and support 10 resident-led walking audits.
Meanwhile, in Portland, Oregon, Cesar Chavez School partnered with Community Cycling Center to fund its Safe Routes to School program. The school hosted a walk audit with community members, identified dangerous school crossings, and made a plan to improve them. Funds from the Community Change Grant will go toward safety improvements on those identified routes near the school, as well as its parking lot.
Apply for a 2020 grant
America Walks reports that applications open in the fall and the grants are awarded for the following calendar year. The number of grants awarded may change year to year because it depends on available funding. Visit the America Walks website for more information about the Community Change Grant program.