Senior Mobility Initiative ( Direct Transportation Assistance)

Background and Purpose:

The Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund (the Federation) is excited to announce a grant opportunity for organizations throughout the Bay Area that serve senior Jewish populations, to counter senior isolation and loneliness as we emerge from the COVID crisis, and to offer seniors the care and community they deserve. The Federation, in its commitment to fostering resilient and secure communities, sees the fulfillment of basic needs is essential for individuals, and those needs include human connection and belonging.

During normal times, seniors who live alone are known to be at a higher risk of having poorer health, and those with mobility or financial challenges are even more isolated. COVID has exacerbated the isolation of so many of our seniors. Through the Senior Mobility Initiative, the Federation provides seniors with the ability to remain active members in their communities—and extends their independence for as long as possible.

The Initiative, which has supported community-based organizations in providing excursion programs, has helped seniors to remain engaged in a wide range of activities, who would otherwise be unable to participate due to lack of mobility, opportunity, or financial resources. The Initiative has also provided critical transportation, which has enabled many seniors to carry out independent living tasks or to attend programs and events that help them engage socially and Jewishly—thereby maintaining the connections so vital to health and longevity. As the Bay Area slowly and cautiously emerges from shelter-in-place and activities are resumed, our communal creativity will be vital as the longer-term effects of COVID on seniors’ mobility and activity remain to be seen.

Proposal Guidelines:

The Senior Mobility Initiative consists of two components, Direct Transportation Assistance and Senior Excursions.

Organizations are invited to submit an application for funding for one component only.

Direct Transportation Assistance

Transportation is a matter of health and survival for seniors as it enables them to get to core activities such as medical appointments, supportive services, and grocery shopping. Though they have the same needs as all seniors, non-drivers make 15% fewer trips to the doctor, 59% fewer shopping and restaurant trips, and 65% fewer social, family, and religious trips than seniors who drive. Fewer trips outside the home exacerbate non-driving seniors’ social isolation and worsen health issues. Direct transportation assistance allows seniors to complete independent living tasks, attend to medical needs, and participate in a wide range of Jewish life by providing easier access to JCC and synagogue events.

We acknowledge there is a greater need for transportation services in more rural parts of our communities. ADA requires public transportation entities to offer paratransit services only up to ¾ of a mile away from actual transit lines—not beyond—which often leaves non-driving seniors with little choice but to use a costly taxi service. Municipal taxi vouchers for seniors typically cover $24 of the cost of a $30 drive, but for seniors on a lower fixed income, that initial $6 is a large ask, especially for several rides per month.

Direct transportation assistance can take many different forms, from vouchers to volunteer drivers to van services, but all forms are alike in that they provide door-to-door support. Grant funds may be used to cover any program costs including staffing, PPE, marketing and outreach, volunteer training, and modes of transportation. We expect services to be a free or very low fee.

Grants made for direct transportation assistance will be prioritized for programs that:

  • Serve a less urban population with greater local transportation challenges
  • Serve a higher percentage of low-income seniors
  • Have a track record of strategically utilizing volunteers
  • Have a fair distribution process in place, including methods that ensure funds, can be used for senior-serving activities throughout the grant period
  • Work in partnership with other area organizations

Eligibility and Criteria:

Organizations must meet the following criteria:

  • Senior-serving 501(c)(3) Jewish organization located in the Federation service area
  • Applying for either direct transportation assistance or senior excursions, but not both
  • Minimum of 50 unduplicated seniors served
  • Commitment to leverage Federation funding to secure other forms of support to sustain the program past June 2022 as grants may not be renewed (e.g. Federal dollars through the Area Agency on Aging)
  • Staff with expertise in senior transportation/excursion needs

Grant Opportunity

Interested and eligible organizations will receive $5,000-$20,000 grants to facilitate either direct transportation assistance or excursions for seniors. The commitment is to spread activities across a 9- month grant period and to be actively fundraising to support programs after June 2022.

Partner organizations will be invited to participate in the Federation’s Culture of Belonging work. Belonging doesn’t happen by chance: it requires a culture shift, reorienting everything we do around human connection and belonging to help people make meaning of Jewish content, and feel seen, heard, and valued as part of the community. The Federation offers both organizational coaching and a community of practice.

Measures of Success include:

  • Number of seniors served
  • Overall % of low-income seniors served
  • Average cost per service passed on to seniors
  • Other restricted funds attracted for the program




Application Process and Timeline:

Action Timeline
Applications Submission Start Date Sunday, August 1, 2021
Proposal Submission Deadline Tuesday, August 31, 2021, at 5:00 pm PDT
Grantees Informed September
Grant Term October 1, 2021- June 30, 2022


Contact Information

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Amy Spade, Senior Program Officer, for guidance and to answer questions in advance of submitting an application.

These grants are funded with support from the Shupin Fund for Senior Transportation, The Alexander M. & June L. Maisin Foundation, the Maimonides-Jewish Welfare Federation Trust, and additional generous donors.

For more information, visit the FAQ page.


Amy Spade
Senior Program Officer, Evaluation & Resilience