Circulate San Diego born out of nonprofits’ merger
Manny Lopez | Uptown News
In March, two San Diego non-profit organizations devoted to increasing transportation choices and addressing land-use issues announced a merger into one new entity. At an event held at the future site of a Morena District Trolley station, Move San Diego (Move SD) and Walk San Diego (Walk SD) unveiled the new logo for Circulate San Diego (Circulate SD) and conveyed their new vision for the region.
“We had come to work much more closely together and saw that our efforts were complementary and in some ways duplicative,” said Elyse Lowe, deputy executive director for Circulate SD. “We think with this merger, we will not only save on administrative costs by finding efficiencies, but also we can actually get more work done together and do it in a way that positions us better on a regional level.”
According to Lowe, in the past, the two groups worked on similar efforts without coordination. The new organization she said will be able to capitalize on synergies and allow the consolidated team to collaborate more systematically and with a shared strategy.
As the former executive director of Move SD, Lowe said that her efforts were focused on increasing transit service by advocating for federal, state and local dollars. Walk SD, as the name implies, directed its efforts to pedestrian and walkability issues.
“I can help increase transit service by advocating for funds to do that, but if people can’t walk to and from the transit stops, then we really haven’t holistically found ways to get people out of their cars,” Lowe said.
She added that Circulate SD promotes all modes of transportation, which includes walking, bus and trolley lines, the Coaster and Sprinter lines and biking.
“We really are not trying to take away the car. We are just trying to provide additional options for people,” she said.
Lowe explained that the idea of combining the two nonprofits was first discussed about three years ago, but the prospect of doing so didn’t become a reality until late 2012. The merger was first announced to the public in January.
Financial support for Circulate SD is provided by state and local grants from sources such as the San Diego Foundation, Escondido Charitable Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Caltrans and the Resources Legacy Fund. Other sources of support include donations, fundraising efforts and income derived from consulting work on local projects.
Kathleen Ferrier, policy manager for Circulate SD, said finding support to do this type of work is very difficult, and cite the advantage of having just one organization applying for funding instead of two. She pointed out that the number of transportation advocacy groups throughout the U.S. mushroomed during the last few years as a result of increased interest and recognition for the need to provide safer neighborhoods and more transportation options.
“It’s exciting to marry policy powerhouse Move SD with the impactful boots on the ground community work behind Walk SD,” Ferrier said. “I look forward to working with our new board to create great, walkable and healthy communities.”
[BongHwan “BH” Kim, executive director for the Malin Burnham San Diego Center for Civic Engagement] “Move SD and Walk SD have a history of collaboration given their mission alignment. This merger is a natural progression for economies of scale, which is needed in the sector. The San Diego Foundation’s Center for Civic Engagement applauds the forward thinking leadership of these two organizations. Circulate SD will maximize each former organization’s unique skills and constituencies allowing our funding to have increased impact on the goal to get San Diego out into nature.”
More information on Circulate San Diego can be found at circulatesd.org or by calling 619-544-9255.