We Want Your Proposals for Asphalt Art

For years now Memphis has been using asphalt art to beautify streets and improve their safety, as this example on Manassas St. attests.

The Bloomberg Foundation has announced a grant opportunity to fund asphalt art projects across the country, with up to $25,000 being awarded per project. The City of Memphis is eligible to apply, and we want to work with one community organization to submit an application. Memphis is no stranger to asphalt art, and has successfully been installing temporary and permanent versions of these types of projects for the last several years. In addition to beautifying public space, these projects can quickly achieve traffic calming and safety improvements on streets.

Overview of the Opportunity:

The goals of the initiative are to:

  1. Improve street and pedestrian safety
  2. Revitalize and activate underutilized public space
  3. Promote collaboration and civic engagement in local communities

There are three key eligibility criteria:

  1. Only one application per city
  2. The local government agency with jurisdiction over city streets (in our case, the Division of Engineering) must be a part of the Project Team
  3. A 501(c)3 nonprofit organization must act as the fiscal agent for the grant

Recognizing these criteria and how attractive the opportunity will be for multiple local community partners, I’m inviting any organization interested in this opportunity to submit a proposal for consideration. If selected, we will work together to submit a final application to Bloomberg as the one application from Memphis. Furthermore, City Engineering would assist with finalizing the design and streamlining the public art approval process. In addition to acting as the fiscal agent, City Engineering’s expectation is that the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization will generally manage the project, execute its installation, and maintain the project per requirements of the City’s Temporary Public Art program. Depending on the final design, City Engineering may be able to provide additional in-kind support in the form of materials and labor.

Instructions for Proposals to City Engineering:

  1. Proposals must be submitted as a PDF in the format of standard letter sized pages (8 ½”  x 11”). The complete proposal packet must not exceed six (6) pages. The proposal must provide the following information:
    1. Name of the applying 501(c)3 nonprofit organization to act as the fiscal agent/project manager, including contact information of the lead individual.
    2. Names of any other organizations proposed on the Project Team, and reason for inclusion.
    3. Name and description of the proposed project, including the proposed location, duration, narrative on the project’s purpose and need, and the anticipated impact. You may include any draft sketches or renderings of the proposed project, or images of other projects used as inspiration.
    4. Description of how the project will fulfill the three goals of the Bloomberg initiative (listed above).
    5. Description of any previously completed community planning process or planning document relevant to the proposal.
    6. Proposed metrics to measure the project’s success, and process for collecting the metrics.
    7. Preliminary line-item budget for the proposal. Clarify if you are proposing that specific costs be covered by or provided through in-kind support from the City.
    8. Annual budget and number of staff members of the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and demonstration of its ability to effectively manage, execute, and maintain this project.
  2. Proposals must be submitted by 5:00 Pm on March 31, 2021. This will ensure sufficient time to select one proposal, and to prepare the final application to Bloomberg by its deadline.
  3. Submit proposals to with “Bloomberg Grant Proposal – [Name of Your Organization]” in the email’s subject line. The PDF size must be less than 25 MB.
  4. Proposals that do not adhere to these instructions will not be considered.

Other Recommendations:

  1. Visit the initiative’s website to read the full description of the grant and view examples of previously funded projects from around the country:
  2. Adhere to Bloomberg’s criteria and intent as closely as possible. We will ultimately choose the proposal that we believe stands the best chance of selection by Bloomberg, and that will be led by an organization that has clearly demonstrated its ability to effectively manage the project.
  3. The exact design of artistic elements do not need to be known at the time of submitting a proposal, but generally the more information provided, the better.

Projects like those sought through this grant present an opportunity to achieve safety improvements on a public street, strengthen connections between residents, and activate public space in a creative and fun way. Even if your proposal is not selected, preparing the submission would be a useful exercise in thinking through the requirements of this type of project in your space or neighborhood, and will better position your organization for future funding opportunities.

Good luck!

Another example of asphalt art from South Florida (Photo Credit: Street Plans).