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Transportation has a major impact on the quality of our lives, our environment, economic competitiveness, and opportunity—but philanthropy has given it little attention. That reluctance is understandable: improving transportation requires major financial investment, coordinating a number of government agencies in many jurisdictions, confronting issues of race and class, and dealing with our love affair with cars. 

 
Learn more about the One Region Fund's investment in transit-oriented development. Download the brochure as a (PDF) or read online via (ISSUU).

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The One Region Fund in The New York Community Trust exists to change that, bringing together funders from Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey to advance policies that provide housing and transit choices for everyone and preserve landscapes and natural resources by concentrating development in urban and town centers with bus and train access.

A Legacy of Bad Planning

The New York metropolitan region faces a number of threats to its quality of life, environment, and status as an economic hub. With 22 million people, the region is exhausting its developable land in Long Island, northern New Jersey, and Westchester and Fairfield counties. Half a century of exclusionary zoning, unfair tax policies, such as education funding, that benefit suburbs over cities, and other barriers have created some of the greatest disparities between rich and poor in the nation. In addition, the region’s older cities and towns are becoming increasingly isolated from areas of growing economic opportunity. For example, Mt. Vernon, New Rochelle, Bridgeport, Weehawken, and Orange are all older cities with few good jobs and high concentrations of low-income residents.

A Need for Transportation Investment

While the region’s transportation infrastructure is a great asset, it is in dire need of major improvement and investment. Decades of sprawl have generated car and truck congestion that exceeds capacity on major roads, and many residents—especially the poor—don’t have easy access to public transportation. The results are delays for millions of commuters and threats to commerce and the ability to move goods, increased air pollution, climate change, and damage to public health.

Transportation decisions made by public agencies and authorities lie at the heart of many of these problems, and the region can no longer afford to make only topical repairs and the usual investments. One Region makes grants for projects that:

  • advance policies that promote smarter transportation investments, and
  • develop local and regional models and practice that provide examples of transit-centered community development that can be widely replicated. 

Philanthropic Partners

  • Citi Community Development
  • Fairfield County Community Foundation
  • Ford Foundation
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation
  • Long Island Community Foundation
  • The New York Community Trust
  • Oram Foundation
  • Rauch Foundation
  • Rockefeller Foundation
  • Surdna Foundation
  • Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation
  • Westchester Community Foundation

The Origins of the Fund

In the winter of 2004, The New York Community Trust and its divisions—the Westchester and Long Island Community foundations—convened a small group of civic, environmental, and philanthropic leaders to discuss ways to promote smarter land-use decision-making in the tri-state region. This meeting was organized with support from the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities. The funders decided to work together for four reasons:

  1. Transportation is an issue that quite literally connects funders in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.
  2. The region’s transportation infrastructure requires significant reinvestment and expansion and is an important topic of public debate.
  3. Philanthropy places high priority on many issues affected by transportation investments, including environmental protection (air pollution, global warming, biodiversity and habitat protection, open space), economic opportunity (workforce development, economic development, urban revitalization), and social equity (access to jobs, housing, and services for low-income communities and seniors, environmental justice).
  4. Funders can play an important and visible role in the transportation arena as investors, partners, educators, and conveners. We can increase our effectiveness by reaching out and working with business, civic, nonprofit, and government. By sharing information and joint grantmaking, we can expand our understanding of and influence over transportation issues.

Selected Grantees: 2006-2012

In its first six years, the One Region Fund in The New York Community Trust has made grants totaling $3.25 million in grants. These grants include:

2012
  • $50,000 to Pace Law School, Land Use Law Center for an electronic newsletter on metropolitan transit-centered development issues.
2011
  • $50,000 to Connecticut Fund for the Environment for the Transit for Connecticut Coalition, which is working to create an expanded, green public bus system better connected to other state transit hubs.
  • $250,000 to Regional Plan Association to match $3.5 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the New York/Connecticut Sustainable Communities Consortium, a partnership of Connecticut and New York cities and regional planning organizations. The Consortium is working to expand economic opportunity by developing livable communities and commercial centers around the transit hubs.
  • $575,000 to Tri-State Transportation Campaign to reduce car dependence and foster a more balanced, transit-oriented transportation system in the tri-state region,and to manage the Transit Centered Development Grants Initiative, a program that offers pre-development grants to local projects.
2010
  • $50,000 to Connecticut Fund for the Environment for the Transit for Connecticut Coalition and its work to increase funding for and implementation of an expanded, green public bus transit system better connected to other state transit hubs.
  • $10,000 to Regional Plan Association to organize the New York-Connecticut Regional Sustainable Communities Consortium.
  • $425,000 to Tri-State Transportation Campaign to reduce car dependence and foster a more balanced and transit-oriented transportation system in the metropolitan New York region.
2009
  • $50,000, Connecticut Fund for the Environment for the Transit for Connecticut Coalition and its efforts to maintain and increase the state’s investment in bus transit.
  • $50,000, Long Island Regional Planning Council to support the transportation element of the Long Island Regional Sustainability Plan.
  • $50,000, Reconnecting America to assess One Region’s transit-oriented development strategies for the tri-state region. 
  • $75,000, Tri-State Transportation Campaign to hire a federal advocate for the region working to expand the participation of tri-state groups in federal transportation policy reform.
  • $425,000, Tri-State Transportation Campaign to expand and deepen transportation reform in the region, manage a program making grants for transit-centered development, and serve as a local ally for the federal Transportation for America Campaign.
2008
  • $50,000, Connecticut Fund for the Environment for the Transit for Connecticut Coalition’s efforts to get increased funding for buses.
  • $100,000, Regional Plan Association to support planning and implementation of two Mayors’ Institutes on Transit-Centered Development for greater New York and southwestern Connecticut.
  • $505,000, Tri-State Transportation Campaign to reform state transportation agencies in the region, and to design and develop a Transit-Centered Development Community Assistance Grants Initiative on behalf of the One Region Funders’ Groups.
2007
  • $67,000, Connecticut Fund for the Environment for a bus transit needs analysis and plan for bus service investments in Connecticut, and to coordinate a coalition to educate policymakers and the public about the importance of increased state investment in bus transit for job access, economic development, environmental protection, smarter growth, and congestion relief.
  • $30,000, New Jersey Future for informational materials about transit villages for local officials, professionals, and residents, and to conduct outreach to selected communities considering transit villages in New Jersey.
2006
  • $385,000,Tri-State Transportation Campaign to encourage reform at state transportation agencies in the region with emphasis on improving New Jersey’s transportation planning and spending framework and promoting adoption of similar reform policies at transportation agencies in New York and Connecticut. 
  • $110,000, Regional Plan Association to support a research and action strategy aimed at developing the next generation of transportation investments to support sustainable and equitable growth in the tri-state region, and for participation in the Transit for Connecticut coalition.

Outreach and Educational Activities

  • One Region co-sponsored four funder educational briefings in Connecticut in January 2006, November 2006, January 2008, and January 2012. Discussions at the first briefing led to the creation of the Transit for Connecticut Coalition.
  • June 2006 briefing and roundtable discussion: Transportation Planning and Reform co-sponsored with the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers.
  • January 2007 briefing: You Can’t Get There from Here: A Transportation Briefing for the Tri-State Metropolitan Region co-sponsored with the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers, Connecticut Council for Philanthropy and Council of New Jersey Grantmakers.
  • September 2007 Long Island Community Forum: Transportation Solutions for Long Island: Towards Transit-Centered Community Development, co-sponsored with Hofstra Center for Suburban Studies, Long Island Community Foundation, Long Island Regional Planning Board, New York Community Trust, Rauch Foundation, Sustainable Long Island, Tri-State Transportation Campaign and Vision Long Island.
  • November 2007 funder site visit to the Hudson Bergen Light Rail Line co-sponsored by One Region Funders’ Group, the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, and the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers.
  • December 2008 funder briefing: Transit Oriented Development Opportunities in New York City, co-sponsored with the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers.  Strategy discussion at this briefing sparked the launch of One Region’s Transit Oriented Development Grants Initiative. 

For More Information

The One Region Funders’ Group is staffed by the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth & Livable Communities. For more information, please contact:

Ann Fowler Wallace
Coordinator, One Region Funders’ Group
Director of Programs, Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities
(617) 524-9239
ann@fundersnetwork.org

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The New York Community Trust is a 501(c)3 public charity.

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