A $500,000 grant to the PedNet Coalition gives it a chance to take a big step forward in advocating for better trails, sidewalks and public transportation, the coalition’s assistant director said.

The PedNet Coalition, a Columbia-based nonprofit, won the grant through the Missouri Foundation for Health’s Exemplary Advocate Cohort, according to a Wednesday news release.

The grant program was established to build advocacy throughout the state and address systemic inequities in the health field.

PedNet was chosen because of its advocacy in creating equity in health care, according to the release. Lawrence Simonson, assistant director of the coalition, said it promotes alternative transportation as a means of boosting health equity and ensuring the transportation system in Columbia is safe for everyone.

Simonson said advocacy is the coalition’s main goal.

There are no set plans for the money yet, but Simonson said in the release that the grant will be used to increase advocacy for the funding of sidewalks, bike lanes and public transit services in Columbia.

“It allows us to focus on doing advocacy work that promotes our mission,” Simonson said.

Not only is the Missouri Foundation for Health providing grant money, but Simonson said it also gives organizations the support and education needed to be successful.

The Missouri Foundation for Health helps communities create positive health changes locally, focusing on education, advocacy and research, according to its website. It is Missouri’s largest independent philanthropic health foundation.

Eleven other Missouri organizations earned identical grants, which will be disbursed over five years.

“We are obviously excited. This is a unique opportunity, and we are really looking forward to the next five years,” Simonson said.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

  • Public Life reporter, spring 2019 Studying print and digital Journalism and Political Science You can reach me at laurenkbishop@mail.missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 573-882-5700

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