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Proactive Intervention, Planning, and Capacity Building

Image of hands shaking symbolizing proactive intervention, planning, and capacity building.Proactive Intervention, Planning, and Capacity Building

Proactive Intervention, Planning and Capacity Building is one of the five pillars in the 2023 update of the DOT Equity Action Plan. Read more about the pillar, metrics for measuring progress toward it, and highlighted actions below.


Ensure historically overburdened and underserved communities in urban and rural areas benefit from access to a generational investment in the nation’s infrastructure through direct, hands-on technical support for transportation projects with local impact.


Image of a bunch of people on stage holding a check for funding to repair natural pipes in Nebraska


  •  By 2025, increase by 5% the number of DOT discretionary grant applicants from disadvantaged communities who have never applied for DOT funding before.
  •  Work to meet the Justice40 goal that 40% of the benefits of certain federal investments flow to transportation disadvantaged communities.
  •  Increase the number of new projects in disadvantaged communities utilizing formula funds from Justice40 covered programs. 
  • Increase the total federal transit grant dollars announced or allocated for rural or Tribal areas. 

Barriers to Equity

Limited Resources

  • Due to historical and systemic patterns of disparity, underserved communities may lack resources needed to develop successful discretionary grant applications. Without assistance, many underserved communities may miss chances to compete for discretionary funding due to a lack of resources rather than a lack of need. Even if awarded a grant, underserved communities may also lack the necessary resources to finalize grant agreements, meet funding requirements, and conduct or implement the work. 
  • Community Based Organizations (CBOs) often represent and advocate for underserved and overburdened communities. However, CBOs face capacity challenges since coordinating with stakeholders, transportation agencies, and contractors can be both costly and time consuming.[i]

Systemic Barriers Remain

  • Lack of affordable, safe, multimodal transportation options have over time created significant barriers accessing employment, education, health care and other opportunities in many communities.  
  • Members of underserved communities have often received less priority in infrastructure investments, often shouldering the burden of environmental and economic impacts.[ii]

Income and Wealth Disparities

  • Navigating the complex environment of federal grant opportunities requires specialized expertise and experience. Overburdened or disadvantaged communities in urban and rural areas may not have adequate resources to gain access to the necessary expertise and experience. 
  • Benefit-cost analysis (BCA) is a requirement for several major transportation discretionary grant applications. BCAs require specialized analysis tools and skills and are based on how benefits measure up to costs. When underserved communities do not have access to those tools or are located in areas where there are too few “benefits” to measure, potentially beneficial projects in underserved communities might not be selected due to incomplete or flawed BCAs.

Image of Nuria Fernandez at a ribbon-cutting event

Evidence Base to Support Strategy 

  • Between 2016-2021, USDOT had approximately 3,500 total unique applicants to its funding programs. In 2022, approximately 350 new applicants from disadvantaged communities applied to DOT’s discretionary funding programs, accounting for close to a quarter of new applicants to DOT programs.  The volume of new applicants, and DOT’s goal of further increasing the number of new applicants from disadvantaged communities, calls for a corresponding increase in technical assistance to help ensure new applicants’ success in delivering transformative transportation projects.
  • In the ETC Explorer, the majority of rural census tracts are experiencing transportation insecurity. [iii]A significant portion also experience heath[iv] and socioeconomic vulnerability. [v]

Image of ETC Explorer


Actions Timeline

Provide hands-on technical assistance and planning grants to enable disadvantaged and under-resourced communities to advance infrastructure projects that will help them thrive.

Provide technical assistance for grantees and potential grantees under the Reconnecting Communities Pilot (RCP) Program through the Reconnecting Communities Institute (RCI). October 2023
Publish a Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA) tool for grant applicants to use when applying for DOT grant opportunities with a BCA requirement.

December 2023

Conduct quarterly DOT Navigator webinars to share information on successful grant writing strategies and spotlight new resources to assist those considering applying for grants. Ongoing
Develop a methodology to calculate the distribution of burdens (in addition to benefits) for Justice40 covered programs. September 2024
Reduce burdens for low-capacity communities through streamlined grant application processes and match flexibility. Ongoing
Develop a resource to track funding investment and technical assistance in rural communities. December 2025

Read the Proactive Intervention, Planning, and Capacity Building Handout.

Have an idea to help advance transportation equity? Want to partner on one of these actions? Email us at to share your thoughts.

[i] Increasing Federal Funding to Community-Based Organizations Prepared for Organizations in the Strong Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC). Enterprise,

[ii] Archer, Deborah N. Transportation Policy and the Underdevelopment of Black Communities. 3797364, 4 Mar. 2021. Social Science Research Network,

[iii] Notes: Transportation insecurity occurs when people are unable to get to where they need to go to meet the needs of their daily life regularly, reliably, and safely.

[iv] Notes: Health Vulnerability category assesses the increased frequency of health conditions that may result from exposure to air, noise, and water pollution, as well as lifestyle factors such as poor walkability, car dependency, and long commute times. 

[v] Notes: Social vulnerability indicators measure lack of employment, educational attainment, poverty, housing tenure, access to broadband, and housing cost burden as well as identifying household characteristics such as age, disability status and English proficiency. 


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