Call for ideas: Healing our Highways through creativity, community, and culture (applications open)

Smart Growth America, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kresge Foundation, is requesting applications for our new grant program, Healing Our Highways. This initiative aims to generate creative ideas and activities that build knowledge, connections, and power within disadvantaged communities most harmed by transportation systems and climate change. The program period is April to October 2024, with public-facing activities taking place from June to August 2024.

The deadline to apply was Thursday, February 22, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

An informational webinar took place on Thursday, February 15th. You can view the recording here.

If you have questions, please review this FAQ page.

Click to download these sharable graphics: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Illustration depicting a divisive highway with cars in grey and black. There is a bridge stylized as a dragon connecting vibrant housing and shopping district with a bus lane, showing the potential of the neighborhood
Illustration by Alfred Twu


Smart Growth America believes unreservedly in the power arts and culture can wield to reimagine and transform our transportation, land use, and climate systems. The Healing Our Highways grant is a program that seeks proposals from artists and culture bearers using creativity and collaboration to upend existing car-centric transportation systems and advance climate action.

Project criteria and eligibility

We are specifically seeking applications that will take place along or call attention to state-owned or -managed streets and other roads characterized as the top 20 most dangerous states or metros identified in Smart Growth America’s Dangerous By Design report. We will prioritize projects that integrate smart growth principles and approaches to advancing transportation and climate systems change. Projects must center and involve communities of color who are the most harmed by transportation systems and are vulnerable to climate change and cultural displacement, focusing on the community’s cultural identity, needs, desires, and power.

Applicant teams must demonstrate personal history and connections to the community, for example through affiliation with local, community-based organizations. Previous experience in transportation and climate advocacy or activism will be helpful, though not essential, for project success. Teams should consider how their proposals build community knowledge, connections, and power through culture and creativity to shape and lead systems change.

This grant is open to new projects and new phases of existing projects. Examples of projects include but are not limited to the following ideas:

  • Art exhibitions calling attention to unsafe transportation systems, climate impacts, and cultural displacement
  • Storytelling, poster, or social media campaigns celebrating unique community practices and traditions relating to transportation or climate resilience
  • Temporary activation or installation showcasing sustainable, people-centered land use that is specific to the community
  • Cultural performances or festivals that promote community stories, histories, and traditions of resilience, resistance, and reclamation, in particular relating to present, proposed, or impending transit/transportation changes or climate impacts
  • Artist-facilitated community workshops or conversations around transportation or climate issues
  • Culturally significant resilience hub prototypes

Grant funding and technical assistance

Smart Growth America will provide $10,000 in funding to each of the three selected project teams, as well as an additional $1,500 stipend for community engagement. All funds will be disbursed in one payment once in contract. Once approved, payment can take up to 30 days to process.

Smart Growth America will also provide technical assistance through online learning sessions in April and May 2024 with topics including smart growth principles and our Dangerous By Design work. Technical assistance will also be offered in campaign strategy, community organizing, and movement and power building.

Project support, timeline, and evaluation

Smart Growth America will provide project guidance and management support through check-ins with staff and program consultants, as well as a photographer to document each selected project. The public-facing elements of the project must be completed by August 2024. Once the proposed project is complete, project teams will be asked to complete a brief final report form, including a survey about the grant process and our technical assistance.

Application review and selection

Following an initial review of all applications, some applicants may be asked to respond to follow-up questions via email or virtual conversation. We expect to make selections no later than the third week of March.

Smart Growth America will inform all applicants of the status of their application within 4 weeks of the due date.






Arts and Culture Climate Change Technical assistance Transportation