Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Invests $300,000 in Community-Led Projects


Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Invests $300,000 in Community-Led Projects to Boost Safety, Connection and Inclusion on America’s Trails

RTC’s 2022 Trail Grants fund projects to build organizational capacity and bring more inclusive and equitable programming to trail and active transportation networks

WASHINGTON, DC (November 16, 2022) — Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) today announced that it has awarded $300,000 to support organizations working to create a more inclusive trail experience nationwide. RTC’s 2022 Trail Grants program is funding 25 community-led projects working to boost safety, connection and inclusive use of the nation’s trails and trail networks.

“At RTC, we believe that trails have the power to transform communities and create joyful, vibrant public spaces that are welcoming to everyone,” said Liz Thorstensen, RTC’s vice president of trail development. “These grants are intentional investments in the partners and people who are working on the ground—in their neighborhoods, states and across the country—to build community on trails, through programming and infrastructure that is inclusive and equitable. Together, we are building a future where trails connect everyone to safe spaces where they can walk, bike and be active outside—which is fundamental to our well-being.”

A hand-made, 3/4″ model of the arched entry to Harbour-8 Park on the Richmond Greenway. Photo courtesy Pogo Park

National studies have shown that a lack of physical access or connection to trails in the community, alongside concerns over safety can be barriers that stand in the way of trail use for communities of color. The 2022 Trail Grants recipients are creating direct trail access and providing trail programming for diverse communities who are often underrepresented among the nation’s trail users.

Harbour-8 Park on the Richmond Greenway, looking east. Photo courtesy Pogo Park

Latino Outdoors, one of three national organizations that received a 2022 RTC Trail Grant, works to bring Latino representation in the outdoor movement through education, conservation, recreation and programming.

Pogo Park’s Community Development Team walk down the Richmond Greenway during a visioning session for the design and layout of Harbour-8 Park. Photo courtesy Pogo Park

“When we invite our community to connect with each other, our history and our heritage, outdoors, we inspire leadership and celebration in nature among our friends and family,” said Vanessa Herrera, development manager for Latino Outdoors. “This grant supports our Vamos Outdoors program, which is centered on fostering outdoor engagement among Latino and other communities. We’re looking forward to bringing more of these events to multiuse trails, which create space for everyone outside in all types of neighborhoods—whether it’s your first time exploring nature or you’re an enthusiastic adventurer.”

Harbour-8 Park on the Richmond Greenway that is about to be developed into a two-block long public park. Photo courtesy Pogo Park

The trail grants program also prioritized investment in projects and partners who are advancing trail development and community engagement in RTC’s flagship initiatives—TrailNation™ and the Great American Rail-Trail®. TrailNation™ is a portfolio of model trail networks across the country working to prove what is possible when you connect millions of people and places by trails. The Great American Rail-Trail is the nation’s first multiuse cross-country trail, which will one day link Washington, D.C., and Washington State.

Pogo Park’s Community Development Team created a hand-crafted public art sculpture to mark Harbour-8 Park on the Richmond Greenway. Photo courtesy Pogo Park

Remember Us Urban Scouts, an RTC Trail Grant recipient based in Ohio, is planning regional youth cycle rides along a portion of the Great American Rail-Trail that runs through Columbus and its surrounding counties.

“Urban Scouts cycle across the Columbus metro area and are excited to explore parts of the Great American Rail-Trail,” said Geno Tucker, Remember Us Urban Scouts’ executive director. “With this grant, young people and their families will experience safe biking in the city and along scenic routes. These rides allow the community to practice bike safety and learn about resources in their community through training and education as the foundation of our cycling program. Teaching our urban communities about the trails close to their neighborhoods and building their confidence to ride from their homes to the trails is our 2023 goal.”

The 2022 Trail Grants include investments in the following regions. The entire list of grantees is available at railstotrails.org/grants:

  • National Organizations: $75,000 to support programs, including Latino Outdoors’s Vamos Outdoors, to celebrate diversity in the outdoors and position multiuse trails as an opportunity to welcome more people from more backgrounds outside.
  • Baltimore Greenway Trails Network: $35,500 to support partners to design programming and events that inspire neighborhoods to connect with each other and enjoy the benefits of the city’s trail network.
  • Bay Area Trails Collaborative: $12,000 to encourage use of the 2,600-mile-plus regional trail network through community rides and wellness programming in Richmond, California.
  • Capital Trails Coalition: $22,500 to encourage and empower youth and adults from communities of color in the D.C. region to walk, bike and use trails, as well as providing bike-mechanic job training for teens and young adults.
  • Circuit Trails: $90,000 to help build new connections within the 800-mile Circuit Trails network in Greater Philadelphia’s Kensington, Fairhill and Port Richmond neighborhoods and assist community programming, with support from the William Penn Foundation.
  • Great American Rail-Trail: $20,000 to support trail programming for Black women and youth in Columbus, Ohio, and introduce them to trail experiences along a portion of the 3,700-mile route that will connect across 12 states between Washington State and Washington, D.C.
  • Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition: $10,000 to produce programming and advocate for safe walking and biking infrastructure within Cleveland and Pittsburgh, particularly in underserved communities and those facing road safety challenges.
  • Miami LOOP: $16,000 to create youth bike safety programs and beautify trails along the developing 225-mile Miami LOOP trail network across Miami-Dade County.
  • Route of the Badger: $20,000 to address the diverse needs of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods along the 30th Street Corridor and raise awareness of the developing 700-mile Route of the Badger trail network that links the city with six surrounding counties.
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