Metro Regional Travel Options (RTO) Grant Funding, $2.1M Available

Oregon Metro’s Regional Travel Options (RTO) grant cycle is now open with $2.1 million available for projects carried out within the Metro boundary — the tri-county region surrounding Portland including Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties.


“Travel Options” projects are those that help improve the transportation system through education and encouragement of travel choices to and from work or school, such as carpooling, riding transit, walking, and bicycling. These programs help the region in numerous ways by both improving mobility and reducing pollution from car trips.

Safe Routes to School projects are a great fit for this grant opportunity, and you are welcome and strongly encouraged to apply! The four key categories for measuring RTO outcomes are Environment, Equity, Health, and Economy — and Safe Routes to School programs fit right in.

  • Environment: Safe Routes to School programs help the environment by reducing pollutants and consumption of energy and non-renewable resources through educating students on how to safely walk and bike to school, giving them the maps and other tools to do so, and providing support and encouragement for more children to walk to and from school together.
    • School drop-offs contribute as much as 25% of morning traffic.
    • In many cases, the drop-off trip is less than three miles — and the parent returns home after drop-off.
    • Some schools have seen a 50% reduction in parent car drop-off rates following the introduction of Safe Routes to School programs.
  • Equity: Safe Routes to School is all about creating opportunities for greater accessibility of travel options for our children to get to and from school and in their communities.
    • Many schools have high rates of kids coming from low-income households. Safe Routes to School projects benefit ALL students living within 1-2 miles of a school equally, benefiting underserved individuals and communities equitably and helping reduce household transportation costs.
  • Health: Safe Routes to School programs promote health benefits for our kids by creating and encouraging opportunities for use of healthier travel options.
    • The US Department of Health recommends people get at least 2.5 hours of physical activity per week.
    • For many kids in Oregon, a walk to or from school may be their only opportunity to get physical activity during the entire school day.
  • Economy: Safe Routes to School programs are a tried, tested, and cost-effective way to promote low-cost travel options for our youth to get to and from school. Kids who get physical activity in the morning are better primed to learn and there may be a reduced absenteeism benefit. Safe Routes to School programs also benefit the community at large by providing safe, healthy ways for people of all ages to get around in our neighborhoods.

Read on to find out who’s eligible to apply, how much is available for a project, when you need to apply, and how to get more information and help.

Who’s Eligible?
That’s important. You have to be, or partner with, a non-profit organization, school district, or other government agency (such as a city or health department) in order to apply.

How Much is Available?
$2.1 million is available for projects carried out within the tri-county region including urbanized portions of Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington County. The project proposal must be for at least $50,000.
Note that a cash or “services in-kind” match is required at a minimum of 10.27% of the total project cost. Applicants should also expect to hold approximately 10% of the grant for evaluation purposes.

The grant cycle is open now and applications are due to Metro on December 19, 2014. The funds support projects that will be carried out from July 2015 through June 2017. Projects cannot begin prior to July 1, 2015.

There are four key categories that will be assessed in a grant application: Environment, Equity, Health, and Economy. As mentioned above, Safe Routes to School programs easily address each of these criteria with flying colors, and we’re here to help if you need assistance in putting together an application.

Learn more

More information can be found in the Application Packet and on the RTO page of Metro’s website.

Metro will be hosting a grant information meeting on Friday, September 12, 2014, from 10:00 am – noon at the Metro Regional Center in Portland. For more information or to register, email

We’re here to help, too! The Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Pacific Northwest, encourages partners who are interested in applying for RTO funds for a SRTS project, to get in touch with us. We can help provide technical assistance on your application, match you up with other regional partners who wish to apply, and answer questions about the RTO grants and how a Safe Routes to School project would work in your School District or town. Contact the Safe Routes to School Pacific Northwest Regional Policy Manager, Kari Schlosshauer, at for more information.

Continue to watch this space for more information on Metro’s Regional Travel Options grants, and ways we are here to help and support your successful application for funding in the region!

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