NCMM Community Mobility Design Challenge 2020

NCMM Community Mobility Design Challenge 2020

A vibrant community is one where all residents are empowered to pursue economic, health, and social well being. The National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM) recognizes the vital role transportation plays in all activities that support the empowerment of individuals across the board. Yet often community transportation systems lack the resources and/or strategies to provide the level of mobility to residents that they would like to.

NCMM’s Community Mobility Design Challenge 2020 grants, with funding from the Federal Transit Administration, will support communities in seeking innovative ways to address the personal wellbeing of community members that face transportation barriers to recreation and physical activities, healthy food, personal safety, economic opportunity, or community and peer support opportunities. Download the application here.


The applicant organization must be a non-profit or a government agency that is able to receive, or be a subrecipient of, federal funding. Note that teams who have previously received an NCMM Design Challenge grant are not eligible to apply for this opportunity.

How to Apply

A complete application will be a single PDF document, combining all of the components listed in the application document. All applications must meet the initial screening criteria listed in the application to be considered. Application packages should be emailed to by the submittal deadline. Applications submitted via other methods will not be considered.

Grant Timeline

May 4                                      Request for proposals (RFP) announced

May – June                            Applicants complete the pre-application activities

May 14                                    Webinar for potential applicants

July 6                                      Applications due by 11:59 pm EDT

August                                    Successful applicants notified

September                             Kick-off webinar for all selected participants

September – October          On-site workshops take place

February 2021                        Projects completed

Watch the archived Pre-Application Webinar:

The  pre-application webinar covered performing the primary research necessary to complete the application and other important points for a complete application. Watch the archived recording below, or download the slides.

Frequently asked questions:

Have questions about the application process? Reach out via email to with your question and we will post the answers below. 

Did applicants need to attend the pre-application webinar in order to apply?
No, while attending the live webinar or viewing the archived video above is highly recommended to better understand the opportunity and application process, it is not an eligibility requirement. 

How many primary research interviews are required? 
8-10 interviews should be conducted at a minimum. All team members must have a role in some of the interviews as well, meaning not all members must take part in every interview, but that all team members took part in at least one interview. 

What is the “Core” team referenced in the Application? 
The “core” team is the minimum five members that meet the composition requirements. Those requirements are; at least one transportation professional (e.g., public transportation provider of bus, van, vanpool, carpool, or bike-sharing services; mobility manager; transportation management association; volunteer transportation program; rideshare coordinator; transportation planner), at least one individual customer from the target population (e.g., end user), and at least two members drawn from a community-based organization relevant to the mobility challenge to be addressed. For example, applicants proposing to improve mobility access for individuals seeking access to peer support group must include a representative from a related provider or case management organization; likewise, applicants proposing to improve access to healthy food must include a representative from a food access program.

Is staff time an allowable expense in the budget?

What is the purpose of the secondary research in the application? 
The secondary research should be used to help illustrate the needs of your community. This should include data from community assessment, surveys, reports, studies, and other data sources that is built into your narrative help show why your focus question is important.

Can a 501(3)(c) with all volunteer staff apply as the lead organization?
The RFP states: “Eligible lead organizations are any nonprofit or government agency eligible to receive, or be a subrecipient of, federal funding who have a demonstrated ability to successfully manage similar grant projects such as this one. The lead organization should have no outstanding legal, technical, or financial issues that would make this a high-risk project. In the application, the lead organization and its partners must indicate that they have the capacity to successfully execute the project.” A volunteer-led nonprofit will need to demonstrate that they can fulfill all the responsibilities of a lead organization, including 1) an executive-level leader who has the legal capacity to obligate the organization in a contract; 2) has the accounting ability to track and submit expenses and make all transactions available to a financial auditor, if that is ever required; 3) lead a multi-sector team; 4) supply a w9 and evidence of formal nonprofit status; 5) show success in managing a similar grant project (this should go beyond a fundraising event, even if the amount raised was significant).
Our Regional Planning Commission is interested in being the Lead for this planning grant.  However, we foresee that some of the primary research with be undertaken from this same source.  As such, would it be a conflict if the RPC leads the grant and subsequently receives funding from the grant for research services?
Salary expenses for staff from the lead agency and its partners are an allowable expense. It is expected that the grant activities will take significant hours, and as such that time can be charged to the grant. If the lead agency is already funded by a federal grant, then the staff cannot charge the same hours to both the federal grant and the NCMM grant.
If our focus question could fit into multiple challenge areas, how do we decide which one to choose on the application?
Choose the challenge area your team feels best describes the problem you are looking to solve. If your project revolves around healthcare access, such as taking people to and from treatment, the access to healthcare option would be best, for example. We intentionally left the challenge areas vague, so there will be some overlap. Please remember to choose one challenge area per application. 

What are the grant activities? 
The grant activities can be found starting on page 7 of the RFP. 

Are the monthly phone calls with the NCMM facilitator intended to accomplish Assumption Testing and Project Plan?
Your NCMM Facilitator will be with you throughout every activity in the grant process, and the phone calls are a part of the regular communication with NCMM to keep the project moving forward. Your facilitator can answer any questions along the way, but most of the activities are completed by your team outside of the phone calls.

How many NCMM webinars are anticipated? Who is expected to attend – all team members, core team members, or at least one team member?
We hold monthly all team webinars to discuss grant activities and the teams’ progress. We encourage as many team ambers as possible to be present, but at least the team lead to convey updates about the project. 

What additional primary & secondary research is typically conducted post-application? How many hours is that estimated?
It is difficult to estimate the needs for additional research, however we want the team to be aware it is common for teams to need more research during the grant process when they are discovering new aspects of the project they might not have thought of previously.

We may not be able to finish all the work in the time estimates provided in the RFP, is that ok? 
The provided time estimates are meant purely to help guide teams in understanding the amount of work involved in the Design Challenge. Grant activities may take longer or shorter depending on each teams’ project.

Is this a monthly reimbursement grant? 
Yes, teams are reimbursed for expenses following the submittal of monthly reports. 

Are the NCMM webinars the same thing as the NCMM monthly phone calls?
No, there will be regular scheduled monthly webinars with all the teams in attendance, as well as phone calls scheduled with just one team and their facilitator to go over the activities in more depth. 

Are photos allowed to be included in the application? 
Yes, photos or other graphics that help illustrate the points in your proposal may be included.