Resilient Equitable Development

Resilient equitable development is a priority area of focus for the Convergence Partnership. Equitable development is an approach to creating healthy, vibrant communities of opportunity. It involves promoting affordable housing without displacement, supporting inclusive transit-oriented development, creating expanded economic opportunity, and prioritizing health and prevention for communities, particularly in the context of a changing climate.

The Partnership prioritizes:

  • sustaining, strengthening, and stimulating healthy, sustainable, and equitable transportation policy;
  • forging new connections to and within the community economic development field; and
  • promoting community economic development strategies to advance community health and equity.

In its strategic planning process for 2014-2016, the Partnership pivoted from its long-standing focus on the built environment and health to the more inclusive framework of resilient equitable development. This shift in focus was introduced to sustain the pressure for equitable and healthy transportation policy while also pursuing impacts in other areas related to the development (and sustainability) of healthy and resilient community environments. A comprehensive, multifield view of communities is central to the Partnership’s vision. In the current context of widening economic disparities, major social and demographic change, and a rapidly shifting climate, a comprehensive, multifield approach is critical to realizing healthy people, healthy places, particularly for low-income people and communities of color.


The Partnership identified transportation equity as a core priority of its work early on.  Through strategic investments and activities, the Partnership has played a critical role in influencing federal, state, and local legislation and investments related to transportation. Wins include the following:

  • Inserting health and equity priorities into the 2009-2012 federal transportation debate
  • Educating transportation and health practitioners on the health and equity implications of transportation policy
  • Forging and strengthening partnerships between health and equity groups in transportation advocacy
  • Building resources and capacity for health, equity, and transportation professionals to move healthy and equitable local, state, and federal transportation policies
  • Increasing investments locally and regionally to promote a healthy and equitable built environment and transportation infrastructure across the country

Learn more about the Partnership’s impacts in community economic development to date, specifically as they relate to transportation equity and the built environment in the resources below.

Federal Efforts

The Convergence Partnership recognizes the influence of federal transportation policy on community environments.  For nearly a decade, the Partnership has supported advocacy on federal transportation policy as part of the Partnership’s larger goals to change policies and environments to better achieve the vision of Healthy People, Healthy Places. Transportation policy affects many aspects of the environments that surround people and that, in turn, create healthier neighborhoods and support healthful decisions.

The Partnership is working with multiple partners to advance its work on community economic development, particularly in the arena of transportation equity.

Transportation for America (T4A) moved quickly to build a broad-based coalition in response to the 2009 surface transportation reauthorization. Committed to making health and equity more prominent, the American Public Health Association (APHA) and PolicyLink were part of T4A’s Executive Committee from the beginning. The coalition was intentionally broad (encompassing developers, housing, environmental, business, planning, transportation, and state and local groups as well as elected officials, among others), making it possible for T4A to position itself as a welcoming, practical, efficient home for many different groups. The organization continues to be a forum for information about transportation policy, connections to a multisector network, and deep engagement in the policy debate.

The Transportation Equity Caucus is continuing its work to ensure equity and civil rights concerns stay at the center of federal transportation efforts. The Caucus has successfully increased representation of health and equity constituents engaged in transportation policy through targeted outreach to and communication with health and social justice stakeholders.  As coalition membership from health and equity organizations continues to increase, the Caucus is leveraging the momentum generated by federal efforts, such as the Safe Routes to School Campaign, to educate transportation advocates about the health and equity impacts of built environment and transportation policy. The Caucus holds regular meetings with senior U.S. Department of Transportation staff and is developing tools for coalition members to educate Congress and the administration about specific policy approaches (regulatory and administrative) to include in the next surface transportation reauthorization.

Local & State Efforts

Transportation for America has been engaged with its local partners to advance health and equity through implementing MAP-21, releasing state-level pedestrian safety reports, raising state funding for public transit, and developing and disseminating case studies of local impact. Sub-grants were made to local partners in Nashville, Tennessee; Portland, Oregon; Detroit, Michigan; Seattle, Washington; and San Diego, California. T4A provided capacity building support and technical assistance. Some of the notable accomplishments of T4A’s partners are described below.

  • Wins for new state funding for transportation and public transit projects in Pennsylvania and Indiana; 
  • Engagement of local low-income residents and communities of color in the planning of new bus rapid transit corridors in Nashville, Portland, and San Diego
  • Winning a commitment to include health and equity criteria into the Seattle region’s MAP-21 performance measures as part of the development of the area’s long-term transportation plan
  • Introducing new bipartisan proposals to the U.S. House and Senate to set aside billions in annual federal highway funding for local, community-initiated transportation projects

In 2014, the SB 375 Equity Advocates (Equity Advocates) were awarded a grant from the Partnership to advance equity by developing a statewide coalition and advocacy platform around California’s SB 375 policy — an innovative state policy requiring regions to implement integrated regional land use and transportation planning processes in order to meet lower greenhouse gas emissions.  This was the first grant the Partnership made to support local advocacy efforts as part of its federal policy strategy.  The coalition members represent five regions across California and have created a strong foundation. As they continue with outreach to engage allied organizations, the Equity Advocates have identified key issue areas, including affordable housing, air quality, active transportation, displacement, jobs, and economic opportunity, rural issues, and transit service and fares.  For the Partnership, these efforts hold the potential for learning that goes beyond the state of California and provides a model for how to embed strong health and equity requirements within statewide policy.