How to Write Winning Grant Applications with Remix

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A planner’s job is often to tell compelling stories, and never more so when working on grant applications.

A new federal administration means new opportunities for transportation across the US. Since January 2021, the FTA and USDOT have announced several grant opportunities — the most recent coming from the COVID recovery bill, the American Rescue Plan Act. With $25 million reserved for transit projects focused on increasing transit ridership, reducing travel times, and raising service quality for disadvantaged neighborhoods, it is clear that this administration is committed to using grants as a mechanism to encourage more equitable mobility. 

President Joe Biden, along with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, have acknowledged the role that transportation plays in reducing barriers to opportunities and improving safety and environmental outcomes with funding support. With the Administration working on a $3 trillion infrastructure package, we expect to see more grants place equity at the center of mobility and infrastructure.

“Black and brown neighborhoods have been disproportionately divided by highway projects or left isolated by the lack of adequate transit and transportation resources,” Pete Buttigieg tweeted in December. “In the Biden-Harris administration, we will make righting these wrongs an imperative.” Photo Credit: AP News

With a massive funding package imminent, we want to help our customers submit applications that are both compelling and competitive. 

Here are three ways Remix customers use our data analysis and visualization tools for grant applications. 

1. Showcase your equity impact 

This administration has been vocal about rectifying past harms that infrastructure planning practices perpetrated on marginalized communities. Showcasing how your plans and projects improve equity outcomes will likely be central to securing funding. Transportation agencies have adopted new practices, such as requiring equity impact statements per project, or “by adopting an ‘equity lens’ to center projects around questions of who may be harmed by the work at hand.” A thoughtful and widely implementable ‘equity lens’ or ‘equity analysis’ can give your application the competitive edge. 

LADOT developed their process, called the Community Analysis, as a way to account for social and cultural factors when conceptualizing all transportation projects. The team formally incorporates Remix in their Community Analysis for the quantitative data gathering process. Kevin Ocubillo, a transportation planner with LADOT, spoke to his experience: “In the past several months, we really found that [Remix] was great for streamlining the data gathering and presenting process, so that there was more time spent in the communities and collecting the oral histories and contextual stories.” 

Kevin Ocubillo, a transportation planner with LADOT, uses Remix to "streamline the data gathering and presenting process, so that there is more time spent in the communities, collecting oral histories and contextual stories."

A planner’s job is often to tell compelling stories, and never more so when working on grant applications. Remix not only helps planners craft stronger stories with data, but also gives time back to collect qualitative artifacts for even better storytelling. 

2. Sell the notion of freedom 

“Transit access” is an abstract concept and proving that your plan is designed to improve access can be a hard sell. That’s another reason why Jane is one of our most beloved tools. 

Jane is a travel time isochrone, or as some refer to it, a ‘freedom blob’ — a visual representation of how far riders can go on any given route or network. Stephen Hunt with Valley Region Transit in Boise, Idaho, relied on Jane to help his agency “celebrate the notion of freedom.” In a similar fashion, agencies from SACOG (Sacramento, CA) to SEPTA (Philadelphia, PA) used Jane to help grant reviewers readily see how a rider’s freedom is impacted with an agency’s proposed changes. 

Place Jane anywhere on the map and she tells you how far riders can travel in a set amount of time.

Jane can help tell you when to supplement fixed route systems with other programs, like microtransit or shared on-demand programs. Jane in green, yellow, and purple is referred to as “Reverse Jane” and tells the story of how long it takes transit riders to get to Jane’s location on the map. When wait and travel times are too long, on-demand programs can step in. Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) has an on-demand program that complements their fixed-route network and provides service to and from transit stops. With their on-demand program, COTA//Plus, the agency was able to reduce rider wait times from an average of 30-45 minutes to 11-12 minutes and improved access to 83% of the city’s fixed route system

The area highlighted with the pink boundary (south of Maplewood) shows a potential gap in access since riders starting there would have to travel 2 hours to get to downtown Portland, whereas riders originating from neighboring areas will only need to travel 1.5 hours.


3. Illuminate with well-visualized data 

Transit Planner Andy Fry with Topeka Metro in Kansas was aiming to make more bus stops ADA accessible when he discovered that sidewalks weren’t accessible, and therefore unamenable to stop improvements. When applying for a capital improvement grant with the state DOT, Andy used Remix to show the current status of infrastructure and identified the priority focus areas that would receive grant funding. 

Topeka Metro used Remix to overlay the transit network, bus stop amenities data, a “No Sidewalks” layer, and car-free households to tell a comprehensive story of what deficiencies in infrastructure really meant for the riders of Topeka Metro. 

 

Writing grant applications is both a science and an art -- within the confines of the application rules, agencies must tell not just a comprehensive story, but a compelling one. Remix can help. To schedule a conversation with our team to see how Remix can strengthen your grant applications, reach out to remix.com/demo.