Safe Routes to School National Partnership Receives Grant from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

1-10-07

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 10, 2007

Contact:
Deb Hubsmith, Coordinator, Safe Routes to School National Partnership,
415/454-7430

Kathryn Thomas, Senior Communications Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 609/627-7621

Boulder, CO - The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded a three-year grant of more than $600,000 to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership—a diverse, nationwide coalition of more than 240 organizations. The grant will support the Partnership’s efforts to advance Safe Routes to School, a program designed to create safe, convenient, and fun opportunities for U.S. children to walk and bicycle to and from schools.

Deb Hubsmith, coordinator of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and project director for the grant, said, "We are honored to have the opportunity to work with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to get more of America’s children walking and bicycling to schools safely. We have an unprecedented opportunity to reverse the decline in active transportation and to improve health by getting America’s youth moving."

In 1969, approximately half of U.S. children walked or biked to school. By 2001, the number had plummeted to 15 percent. Concerned by the long-term health, traffic, and environmental consequences of this trend, the U.S. Congress approved $612 million in August 2005 for states to implement Safe Routes to School.

This Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant will enable the Safe Routes to School National Partnership to create Safe Routes networks in 10 key states that will be selected based on needs, including high rates of obesity. The project will bring together professionals from many different areas, including health, education, youth advocacy, smart growth, and bicycle and pedestrian groups, to work with state Departments of Transportation to help ensure the best use of the authorized federal funds. The project also will leverage additional resources to remove barriers to walking and bicycling to schools.

"We all have a role to play in reversing the epidemic of childhood obesity," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and C.E.O. of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "We need to work together to make sure every child can walk and bike to and from school safely. It’s one of many ways in which we should strive to increase the amount of safe, fun physical activity our kids get every day."

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is administered by the Colorado-based Bikes Belong Foundation.

Hubsmith recently was appointed by the Federal Highway Administration to the National Safe Routes to School Task Force, which was legislated by Congress and is charged with developing strategies on how to advance Safe Routes to School program elements. The first meeting of the National Safe Routes to School Task Force will take place on January 11, 2007, in Washington, D.C. Hubsmith will report on programs of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and will describe the project supported by this new grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful, and timely change. For more than 30 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.