Transportation Equity Network

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

The Transportation Equity Network is a coalition of community groups, equitable transportation advocates, civic organizations, and other stakeholders in Chicago and suburban Cook County who will work with decision-makers to embed racial equity and mobility justice into transportation via community-driven decisions and investments.

Inequitable access to high-quality transportation options has prevented growth and investment in Black and Brown communities and low-income communities. The election of equity-forward public officials, significant technological changes to our transport system, and the persistence of serious racial and economic inequities call for a deliberate and coordinated approach to increase transportation equity and, as a result, improve life outcomes for marginalized communities.

Project Overview

The Transportation Equity Network project is building a coalition of community groups, equitable transportation advocates, local leadership, and others to serve as a network of organizations to work with decision-makers to embed racial equity and mobility justice into transportation decisions and investments. Community group representatives, as well as Black and Brown people will hold the majority of leadership positions within the coalition.

This project is proposed as a three-year effort to build and manage a transportation equity network. One of the central goals in convening people will be the development of a vision for transportation equity in Chicago. The proposed transportation equity network will focus on pressing topics such as transportation improvements without displacement or equitable decision-making processes. The ultimate beneficiaries of the work undertaken by the coalition are low-income communities and communities of color who are marginalized by transportation inequities.

Our network will actively convene members, participate in city, county, regional, statewide, and national forums, respond to requests for assistance and information from community groups or the media, and do real-time opportunistic policy analysis and advocacy, among other activities.

Initial Priorities

In summer and fall 2020, TEN will work to develop an organizational structure that positions community-based organizations as decision-makers; understand the impacts of COVID-19 on the transportation system and involve community groups in designing solutions; and advise the Chicago Department of Transportation on strategic planning. More initiatives will be identified as TEN’s work takes off.

Community & Beneficiaries

Our network will be composed of community-based organizations who represent the needs of people in Chicago and Cook County that have suffered from inequitable transportation access or have been negatively impacted by past decisions; transportation equity advocates, who inspire the group to move toward equitable investments and improved outcomes, while also  providing thought leadership along the way; and civic organizations, who support the group through communications, analytics, legislative activities, convenings, event organization, and program delivery. There are now 24 organizational members of the coalition across these categories. Co-chairs are Jacky Grimshaw (CNT), Lynda Lopez (Active Transportation Alliance), and Olatunji Oboi Reed (Equiticity).

Outcomes

Short-term outcomes include a working coalition that meets regularly to coordinate efforts on transportation equity, to develop analytical and communication pieces to advance coalition priorities, to inform and engage communities participating in planning and decision-making, and to create an agenda for transportation equity in the Chicago region.

TEN will work towards long-term outcomes for the region to increase equitable community-driven investment. Our guiding goal is to reduce the racial wealth gap caused in part by unequal transportation access. This broader outcome can be measured by progress toward several goals in low-income communities and communities of color: reduction in transportation costs, improved access by residents to regional assets, improved access by local businesses to customers and suppliers, increased public sector investment in transportation infrastructure (but without displacement), reduction in air pollution, increased healthy transportation choices, and many others. Ultimately, improvement in these measures will also lead to increased private investment in historically marginalized communities, bringing about comprehensive community-driven investment.

Participants

  • CNT
  • Access Living
  • Active Transportation Alliance
  • Equiticity
  • Chicago West Side Branch NAACP
  • Chicago United for Equity
  • Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children
  • Elevated Chicago
  • Emerald South Economic Development Corporation
  • Endeleo Institute
  • Foundation for Homan Square
  • Garfield Park Community Council
  • Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation
  • Greater Southwest Development Corporation
  • Gwendolyn Purifoye, Associate Professor, Sociology, North Park University
  • Institute for Housing Studies
  • Kate Lowe, Associate Professor, Department of Urban Planning and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • LUCHA
  • Latinos Progresando
  • Little Village Environmental Justice Organization
  • Logan Square Neighborhood Association
  • Metropolitan Planning Council
  • Mikva Challenge
  • Muse Community + Design
  • Northwest Side Housing Center
  • Shared Use Mobility Center
  • Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Urban Juncture
  • YWCA of Evanston

Funders

Initial funders of TEN include The Chicago Community Trust and the Energy Foundation through the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge, and we thank them for their generous support. The members of TEN are actively seeking funding from additional sources. Other foundations, individuals, or corporate partners who wish to be early funders of this important initiative are welcome to contact us about sponsorship or participation.

Contact

To learn more about TEN, its members, and how you can be involved, please contact Heidy Persaud, Transportation Equity Director, at hpersaud@cnt.org.

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