It’s official! The Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI) has grown so far, and so fast, since its launch in 2014, that we are now prepared and eager to operate as an independent program.
Through our award-winning published resources, along with the city-level support, capacity-building workshops, and in-depth trainings provided by our team, GDCI is now recognized as one of the world’s most influential urban design organizations; we’ve cultivated a robust global network, building real-life best practices on the ground, while advising on policies, programs, and projects in 30+ cities around the globe.
After seven years as a program of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), GDCI will now be managed under the fiscal home of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors–a nonprofit organization and international thought leader specializing in the support of high-impact global projects and strategic philanthropic initiatives.
Where We Started
Founded by Janette Sadik-Khan, and operating under the guidance of Director Skye Duncan, the GDCI was established in 2014 with the mission to transform streets around the world, and to develop global best-practice street design principles for use in a wide variety of street typologies.
From the start, the ambition of the program was to expand context-specific street design guidance around the world, challenging outdated global guidance standards that overwhelmingly privileged vehicles over people. Recognizing that cities across the world are facing similar deep challenges, GDCI worked with an urgent recognition that street design impacts and intersects with multiple global issues, from public health, safety, and climate crises, to economic and environmental sustainability, accessibility, and social equity.
Growth and Milestones
Since 2014, the scope and reach of GDCI’s work has expanded tremendously: Our team has grown four-fold, and following the success of the Global Street Design Guide in 2016—which has been translated into five languages, endorsed by 109 cities, organizations, countries, and global regions, and downloaded over 40,000 times—in 2020 we released a second major publication, Designing Streets for Kids, which received the prestigious Prince Michael International Road Safety award in 2021, and is currently being translated into Portuguese, French, Spanish, and Turkish.
In light of this growth, and given our ambitious plans for the years to come, the time has come for GDCI to take the next step as an independent initiative in order to fully expand the reach and impact of this work, and to center the needs of global communities.
2016-2022 Impact at a Glance
“This is an incredibly exciting moment in the history and journey of GDCI,” said Skye Duncan, executive director of GDCI. “We’re eager to further embrace the needs of our global partners who are working to fundamentally change the role of streets in their cities, and RPA is well-equipped to support this growth so that we can engage more local staff, infuse even more local contextual considerations into our on-the-ground projects, and help to enhance our existing international team.”
“People in cities everywhere deserve safe, sustainable, and joyful streets. NACTO is proud to have incubated the Global Designing Cities Initiative to where it is now: a program that improves the lives of people in hundreds of cities worldwide,” said Corinne Kisner, executive director of NACTO. “While GDCI is now an independent initiative, we are excited to continue our partnership, bringing street innovations and ideas from around the globe to NACTO’s network of 90 cities in North America.”
“In just seven years, GDCI has grown from a nimble startup into an elite team of global urban innovators, bringing new life to city streets everywhere,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, GDCI chair. “This new alignment with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors will help GDCI strengthen its influential and independent voice as it reclaims and reimagines streets for the billions of people who live, work, travel and play on them.”
“RPA is thrilled to become GDCI’s fiscal sponsor,” said Walter Sweet, senior vice president, Sponsored Projects & Funds at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. “We are very excited to partner with a talented team on this important work.
The fiscal sponsorship of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors will ensure that GDCI has the support and expertise needed to sustain strong partnerships and expanding international work, so that the team can maintain its primary focus on transforming streets—inspiring leaders, informing practitioners, and inviting communities to imagine what is possible when we design streets that put people first.
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