Active Transportation Programs Eligible for $650 million Available Through New Public Health Grants

Posted 09/30/09 by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in Health and Wellness

Via Safe Routes to School National Partnership:

cdc-logo.jpgOn September 17, 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a new program: Communities Putting Prevention to Work.Thirty to forty communities will receive a total of $373 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) dollars through this competitive grant program to support interventions that reduce obesity (through improved physical activity and nutrition) and/or reduce tobacco use. Communities can apply for either focus area or both. This landmark opportunity is aimed at mobilizing community resources toward broad-based policy, systems, organizational and environmental changes. The application places an emphasis on communities demonstrating effective coalitions, and notes that special consideration should be given to the inclusion of populations disproportionately affected by chronic diseases.

On September 29, 2009,  the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the release of $120 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for prevention and wellness programs for U.S. states and territories, building on the recent announcement of the $373 million funding opportunity for communities and tribes around the country. In all, the comprehensive Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative will make $650 million available for public health efforts to address obesity, increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and decrease smoking.

Lead Applicants: Local and State Health Departments


  • Letter of Intent Deadline: October 30, 2009
  • Application Deadline: December 1, 2009 

The Opportunity for Bike/Ped and Health Officials: Communities Putting Prevention to Work provides an important opportunity for bicycle and pedestrian professionals, enthusiasts, and advocates, as well as health officials, to act quickly to get your city or state to:

  1. Apply for the funding;
  2. Educate the health department about the range of bike/ped interventions that can be included in their application and action plan; and
  3. Include your organization as a partner in the effort.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has worked with our partners at America Bikes and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership to prepare a list of sample bike/ped activities that fit within the five categories of evidence-based interventions that are required as part of this CDC application. We encourage you to review these sample activities and assess which would work well in your community. Funds are available to make these projects a reality—so it is in your interest to work with your health department to develop the bike/ped aspects of the CDC application for obesity prevention, and to demonstrate how your organization can be a resource to them.

Act Now to Contact Your Health Department and City Officials: Now is the time to contact your health department and city officials to encourage them to apply, and to share your ideas on bike/ped interventions. Don’t wait – health departments are making decisions now about whether to apply, and what to propose in their grant applications.

  • Populations greater than 500,000: If you live in a city or county with a population of 500,000 people or more, your local city or county health department will be the lead applicant on the grant. You should find and contact the health department staff person who is the lead on physical activity or obesity. In addition, you should contact your Mayor and City Council members to urge them to ask the health department to apply for this grant with a focus on bike/ped to increase physical activity.
  • Populations less than 500,000: If you live in a city, county, or community with a population of less than 500,000 people, then your State Department of Health will be the lead applicant. States can only choose two communities throughout the whole state to sponsor, so it will be important to reach out soon. Work with your local health department, Mayor or members of the Board of Supervisors to encourage them to reach out to the state department of health to include your community in the state’s application.
  • Tribal Applicants: If you live in a tribal area, you should work with the health department lead staff on physical activity or obesity to prepare the application. Tribes are permitted to apply directly.

Application Focus: The CDC Request for Proposals notes that the “key to the success of this initiative, Communities Putting Prevention to Work, will be to implement community-wide policies, systems, and environmental changes that reach across all levels of the socio-ecological model and include the full engagement of the leadership in city government, boards of health, schools, businesses, community and faith-based organizations, community developers, transportation and land use planners, parks and recreation officials, health care purchasers, health plans, health care providers, academic institutions, foundations, other Recovery Act-funded community activities, and many other community sectors working together to promote health and prevent chronic diseases. Funded programs need to build on, but not duplicate current Federal programs as well as state, local, or community programs and coordinate fully with existing programs and resources in the community.”

Please note that construction and research are not eligible activities.

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