Clearing the air in San Francisco


The 11th Hour Project wanted a new grant making approach for promoting a sustainable transportation strategy in San Francisco that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Context Partners developed a prize challenge to crowd- source innovative, accessible and affordable transportation options while building a network for future change.

“The challenge was intended to spur projects that will be implemented in the near-term that will help us pilot solutions to accessibility, affordability, and sustainability of transportation in sf. We were thrilled with the creative solutions and strong partnerships proposed.”

Jamie Dean

The 11th Hour Project

Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is critical to meeting global climate goals, especially in San Francisco, where transportation contributes 40 percent of GHG emissions. The 11th Hour Project, a program of The Schmidt Family Foundation, asked Context Partners how a prize challenge could advance the organization’s goals of reducing reliance on fossil fuels and promoting renewable energy.

Context Partners recognized an opportunity to map critical players in the transportation sector, increase collaboration among partners and better understand the city’s transportation landscape for future funding. The resulting Just Transit SF Challenge, with a total of $225,000 in prize money, has helped create a network of private, public and non-profit players in the urban sustainability sector.

For this civic innovation challenge, the mandate was to identify and fund effective solutions that leverage the city’s deep technology resources, lower GHG emissions, increase equitable access for riders and encourage collaboration among partners.

Through research reaching to more than 900 individuals and transportation organizations in the Bay Area, Context Partners gained insights that informed the challenge’s emphasis on building trust between riders and partners, putting the rider experience first and on stimulating alternatives to capital-intensive solutions. The large field of 100 registrants for the challenge was eventually narrowed to 30 applicants, based not only on their innovative ideas but also on their networks of relationships that would be needed to implement the project within a two-year time frame.

The three winning transportation solutions focus on advancing community mobility, improving infrastructure and promoting bicycling. RideScout and TransForm are partnering to grow transit ridership, particularly among disadvantaged communities; Livable City and Lyft will streamline the travel experience at the city’s cluttered CalTrain depot, a prominent transportation hub; and Bicis del Pueblo will encourage bicycle use and bike-sharing among low-income youth and families in the Mission and Excelsior districts.

The Just Transit SF Challenge, designed and run by Context Partners, raised awareness about transportation issues, galvanized stakeholders to build effective relationships and meaningfully bolstered partnerships across the public and private sector. For the 11th Hour Project, the Just Transit SF Challenge opened the door to funding early-stage solutions and testing new ideas to foster more-sustainable transportation and build a network for change.

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