5 Key Strategies for Winning an SS4A Grant: Lessons from Cheryl Walker, FHWA

April 7, 2023

Image Caption: 5 Key Strategies for Winning an SS4A Grant: Lessons from Cheryl Walker, FHWA

The Safe Streets for All (SS4A) grant program aims to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on U.S. roads and streets by providing $1 billion in annual funding for local projects between fiscal years 2022 and 2026. These funds are designated for local communities, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), cities, towns, counties, transit authorities, federally recognized tribal governments, and collaborating groups of these eligible entities. In our recent Webinar, Setting Yourself Up for SS4A Success, Cheryl Walker, Associate Administrator for Safety, FHWA shared insights to help applicants maximize their chances of success. Watch the full webinar here.

1. "They employed effective, lower-cost, data-driven interventions addressing serious injuries and fatalities across wide geographic networks."

Successful grant applications focus on data-driven solutions and proven safety countermeasures to address serious injuries and fatalities effectively. Evidence-based approaches demonstrate a commitment to making informed decisions that prioritize safety and have a high likelihood of success. For example, one of the successful applications from Hillsborough County, Florida, received a $19.7 million implementation grant for Federal Highways-proven safety countermeasures and strategies effective in reducing fatalities and serious injuries, such as sidewalk installations, leading pedestrian intervals, and crosswalk improvements.

2. “Successful applications were highly rated across all selection criteria and aligned well with the program's goals”

To be successful in winning an SS4A grant, applicants need to align their projects with the grant criteria and program goals. This involves addressing each criterion listed in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) clearly and concisely in the application, ensuring that the proposed project aligns well with the SS4A program's objectives. The evaluation criteria for implementation grants in FY22 focused on safety impact, equity, engagement and collaboration, and effective practices and strategies. By addressing ALL of these criteria, applicants can demonstrate how their project will effectively reduce fatalities and serious injuries.

3. "Connect your project to existing plans and programs."

Projects that have a strong connection to existing plans and programs within the community stand a better chance of winning an SS4A grant. This connection demonstrates a cohesive vision and shows how the project aligns with broader community goals and initiatives. For instance, Frederick County, Maryland, received an action plan grant to build upon their existing Toward Zero Deaths plan, integrating traffic safety considerations into design development standards and identifying high-risk rural road segments.

4. “Collaboration in the community and getting leadership involved is crucial to have everybody speaking with one voice about the importance of saving lives and getting excited about it.”

Establishing strong collaborations and partnerships with local stakeholders is vital to create a unified approach to grant applications. Working together ensures that the community is not competing against each other for grant funds, which increases the likelihood of success. Involving local leaders, stakeholders, and partners in the planning and implementation process can improve the quality of grant applications, resulting in more effective projects that save lives.

5. "Of the $400 million available, only $200 million was distributed, simply because not enough applications were submitted."


Seize the opportunity: with an impressive $1 billion allocated annually, the SS4A program offers more funding compared to other USDOT discretionary grant programs. Out of the $400 million earmarked for Action Plan grants, only $200 million was distributed during the first round. This means a whopping $600 million will be up for grabs in FY23! Remember, these grants can fund small-scale pilot projects too – so don't miss out on this golden chance. Keep an eye out for the NOFO in April 2023 and make sure to apply.

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