Federal Transit Administration
- The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is the primary source of federal funding for public transit and community transportation programs
- Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) is the current federal legislation that guides FTA funding. Some funding streams that were available under previous legislation are no longer available under MAP-21. Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) funding was previously available for employment transportation for welfare recipients and low-income people, and New Freedom funding was available for transportation for people with disabilities. Under MAP-21, these projects no longer have their own dedicated funding streams
Other Federal Agencies
- Besides FTA, other federal agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services (including the Administration on Aging), Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Labor also provide some funding for transportation
- This GAO report identifies 80 federal funding sources and reviews federal and state efforts to coordinate these funding streams
How to Apply
- Grants.gov is the official government site for information on federal grants and funding
- The MassDOT Rail and Transit Division administers many federal FTA programs at the state level
Community Transit Grant Program
Massachusetts distributes federal and state funds for community transportation through MassDOT’s Community Transit Grant Program. This includes the Mobility Assistance Program, a state funding source for improved transportation services for seniors and people with disabilities. Transit authorities, state agencies, municipalities, non-profits, and for-profits can apply to MassDOT for capital or operating assistance. To learn more about the program and how to apply for funds, check out MassDOT’s community transit grant program webpage.
MArtap offers Helping Hands mini-grants annually to support transit services in rural and small urban areas.
Community Innovation Challenge
The Community Innovation Challenge awards grants to local, county, or regional government or schools in Massachusetts for regionalization initiatives or other governmental reforms. Past awards have included a regional transportation initiative undertaken by Acton and neighboring towns.
State Contract Opportunities
Some state contracts for community-based services include some funding for transportation. To check for upcoming procurements, visit COMMBUYS, the Commonwealth's electronic procurement system, which provides free, around-the-clock access to all bid documents valued over $50,000 issued by Massachusetts executive departments.
How to Apply
- Community Transit Grant Program – information and application form
- MArtap funding opportunities
- Community Innovation Challenge grant – information and application instructions
- COMMBUYS – state contract opportunities
Build a relationship with foundations in your area to see if your programs could be eligible for funding now or in the future.
Find a Foundation
- Grantsmanship Center's list of Massachusetts-based foundations
- Associated Grant Makers – regional association of grant makers that offer grants in Massachusetts and New Hampshire
- Foundation Center – information on private philanthropy in the United States
- Barr Foundation supports transportation projects as part of its climate change focus area.
- Smith Family Foundation’s small capital grants initiative funds one-time capital expenses for nonprofits, including purchase of vehicles.
- Tufts Health Plan Foundation supports healthy aging in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Collaborative transportation projects are eligible.
- United Way local affiliates are involved in community transportation in some regions
Applying for Grants
- Tips on writing grants from the National Center on Mobility Management (Sections 1 & 2)
Grant Writing Made Easy – guide from National Rural Transit Assistance Program
- Local banks have sponsored vehicles and transportation services in some regions of Massachusetts
- Many restaurants are willing to partner with nonprofits to host fundraisers where some of the profits from a meal go to your organization
- Corporate giving programs based in Massachusetts may be a source of funds or volunteers
Crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter provide a platform to raise funds from individual donors in support of a defined project. For example, a nonprofit used Kickstarter to raise funds for development of a mobile app trip planner.