Funding Your Program

One of the biggest challenges for program organizers is finding sufficient funding for Open Streets programs. While many programs in Latin America are fully government funded, the trend so far in North America is a partnership model where the costs are shared between local governments, non-profit organizations, and corporate sponsorships or donations. (Source:  The Open Streets Guide, 2012) 


Role of Local Government:

To achieve a Healthiest Practice model of Open Streets it is very important to get your local government to the table. There are many programs in North America that have no government funding and little support, and while this may work in the short-term it is not sustainable and will limit your potential of delivering the healthiest program for your community in the longer term.

There are a number of costs related to an Open Streets program that government may be able to provide in-kind or waive fees for including:

•    barricades and road closure signs
•    permit fees
•    cost of transit detours 
•    policing 
•    traffic management plan
•    volunteers/volunteer database
•    public notices and distribution costs
•    meeting space for public forums

If your government cannot be involved in the early years, make sure you set an internal goal to get them involved in the future. Be sure to maintain a positive relationship with municipal staff and elected officials. 

Finding Funding: 

Regardless of your potential funder, you will need to pitch your idea and ask for money or in-kind contributions.  Make a list of potential funders and identify any corresponding leads (ie. people on your team who have good relationships with the potential funders). Generally speaking, it is easier to have a few larger sponsors than many smaller sponsors. Each sponsor/funder will require time dedicated to relationship building and benefits (ie. logos on marketing material etc).  So be strategic. 

Potential funders may include:
  • Government/government departments (ie. Departments of Transportation, Recreation, Community Services, Parking, Planning etc.)
  • Local grantmakers and foundations
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Banks
  • Real Estate developers
  • Successful local businesses 
  • Business Improvement Districts/Areas
  • Companies with related brands (ie. sporting goods stores, lifestyle companies) (ie. healthfood store)
  • Insurance companies
  • Companies that funded Open Streets in other cities (ie. Whole foods, Kaiser, etc.) 

Approaching Funders:

Approaching potential funders requires having a strong internal understanding of your goals and key messages for the program, as well as an understanding of the goals and target market of the organization you are pitching the concept to. You also need to establish your team values and ethics, since you many have interested sponsors that contradict your brand (ie. fast-food companies). 

Before approaching potential funders see our tips for creating a sponsorship package 

 Things to Keep in Mind:

Healthiest Practice Open Streets are affordable options for delivering health-promoting recreation to a large audience.

There is an economy of scale.  The greater the frequency of your Open Streets program, the cheaper each program date becomes because you will be using existing resources for each extra date.  (i.e signage, promotional material, volunteer kits, etc.) 

As the Healthiest Practice Open Streets movement grows, we hope that more government and national funding options will be available to support the development of health-focused programs.   

If you are interested in funding Healthiest Practice Open Streets programs, please contact us.