December 2008

Safe Routes to School E-News

Issue #36: December 2008

Safe Routes to School E-News is a monthly email newsletter published by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, a growing national network of more than 350 non-profit organizations, government agencies, and professional groups that are working to set goals, share best practices, secure funding, and provide detailed policy input to implementing agencies for advancing the Safe Routes to School national movement.

Please forward Safe Routes to School E-News to others who may be interested!

To receive future issues of E-News, email info@saferoutespartnership.org

In this issue:

1. The Partnership Releases Three Exciting New SRTS Reports
Reducing carbon emissions, improving the built environment, and collaboration between public health & school officials

2. New SRTS State of the States Chart sent to Governors
Please fill out our survey about SRTS implementation challenges by December 23

3. SRAM Awards $200,000 Grant to Safe Routes to School National Partnership
This is the first award made by SRAM’s newly created Cycling Fund

4. The Partnership Endorsed by National Forum on Children and Nature
Recognizing an urgent need to reconnect children with nature

5. Safe Routes to School National Partnership Federal Update
Getting ready for a new session in Congress

6. The Partnership Joins Transportation for America Coalition
Learn more about T4A’s platform for the next transportation bill at t4america.org

7. Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Call for Proposals
Deadline for brief proposals is February 3, 2009 at 3:00pm EST

8. Alaska Safe Routes to School Builds Momentum
Expanding to rural Alaska, working with 8 communities and completing 2 grant rounds

9. Exciting Time for Kansas SRTS Program
Kansas anticipates completion of several infrastructure projects in Summer 2009

10. SRTS News Throughout the Country
Local and state SRTS program news links



1. The Partnership Releases Three Exciting New SRTS Reports
Reducing carbon emissions, improving built environment & collaboration between public health & school officials

In December, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership released three exciting and informative reports that were prepared for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The first report, Safe Routes to School: Steps to a Greener Future, indicates how Safe Routes to School is reducing carbon emissions and air pollutants – it is the first report of its kind to make the link between climate change solutions and SRTS. The transportation sector in the United States accounts for more carbon dioxide emissions than any other nation’s entire economy, except for China. These emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants are having a negative impact on our children, our communities and our planet. The report profiles five communities that have made strides in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and harmful pollutants around schools through the implementation of Safe Routes to School programs. The five case studies documented in this report demonstrate initial promising successes, and show how one school’s effort often spreads to additional nearby schools, furthering the environmental impact. Columbia, MO; Las Cruces, NM; Longmont, CO; Marin County, CA; and Windsor, VT are featured. The report also calculates the amount of pollution that could be reduced if SRTS is successful in returning to 1969 levels for walking and bicycling to schools. Click here to view the report.

The second report is called Safe Routes to School: Improves the Built Environment. Since the 1950’s the United States has been planning and developing its communities and transportation infrastructure around suburban living and the speed and convenience of the automobile. This has resulted in sprawl, congestion, and a built environment that is largely inconvenient, inaccessible and unsafe for active transportation such as walking and bicycling. The report focuses on case studies describing how ten states (California, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia) are awarding their SRTS federal funds to support improved infrastructure such as sidewalks, bike lanes, pathways, improved intersections, traffic calming, and more. It also profiles several communities, and how SRTS has led to improved infrastructure as well as leveraging additional investment to create policy changes supporting walking and bicycling. Click here to view the full report.

The third report, Safe Routes to School: Leads to Greater Collaboration with Public Health and School Officials, demonstrates how Safe Routes to School is a collaborative effort involving multiple organizations, including state Departments of Education and state Departments of Health. Additionally, the report addresses how school siting decisions at the state and local levels affect opportunities to walk and bicycle to schools, which in turn affects opportunities for physical activity. Four case studies showcase examples of collaboration between public health and school officials at the state level through Safe Routes to School Advisory Committees, school siting guidelines, state standards for physical activity, wellness policies and more. California, Massachusetts, Mississippi and Oklahoma are featured. Click here to view the report in full, and to learn about state-level collaboration among officials that is resulting in important policy changes.

For high-resolution copies of the reports, please contact Brooke Driesse.



 2. New SRTS State of the States Chart sent to Governors
Please fill out our survey about SRTS implementation challenges by December 23

Last week, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership sent a letter to each state’s Governor plus the Mayor of the District of Columbia regarding state implementation of the federal Safe Routes to School program. The letter congratulates states for their work in implementing SRTS, and asks them to award the remainder of available funding to help schools and communities struggling with traffic safety, childhood obesity, poor air quality and school bus route cuts. We shared with each Governor the new and improved November State of the States chart, showing the progress each state has made on implementing SRTS in terms of funding awards and obligation levels. The letter also encourages states to mitigate where possible the delays in implementing SRTS projects. Due to federal regulations and state procedures, it often takes many months and a lot of paperwork to get a SRTS project started after the grant has been awarded. Finally, the letter encourages Governors to share best practices or challenges they face in implementing SRTS with the Partnership so that we can work with states and Congress to implement best practices to urge implementation challenges.

This is where we need your help too! We have heard many reports that SRTS grants can be burdensome to implement due to state and federal regulations and procedures. We’d like to hear more from state and local organizations that have received federal Safe Routes to School funding through your state DOT about what is and is not working well in terms of implementation procedures. Please take twenty minutes to fill out our survey to document your experiences with the application process, award timeline, and implementation paperwork and processes. This information is critical so that we can work with Congress to make this program less burdensome for state and local grantees, and to get projects moving more quickly.

The survey is available at www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=_2bBiL4NGwkZxjsn0Un5bSDA_3d_3d. Please fill the survey out by Tuesday, December 23, 2008. Thank you so much for your help!

Also, please review the November 2008 State of the States chart, and see how your state is doing in terms of awarding and obligating SRTS funding. We encourage local and statewide organizations and government agencies to send letters to your Governor urging your state to fully award and obligate the available SRTS funding as soon as possible; with the federal transportation bill up for a new authorization in 2009, we don’t want states leaving money “on the table”.



3. SRAM Awards $200,000 Grant to Safe Routes to School National Partnership
This is the first award made by SRAM’s newly created Cycling Fund

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is honored and grateful to announce that the SRAM Cycling Fund has awarded a grant of $200,000 to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

This is the first award made by SRAM’s Cycling Fund that was created on September 30, 2008. During the next five years, the Fund plans to award $10 million in grants to support cycling advocacy programs around the world that focus on improving bicycling infrastructure.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is a network of more than 350 nonprofit organizations, government agencies, schools and professionals working together to advance the Safe Routes to School, www.saferoutespartnership.org, movement in the United States.

“Creating a better environment for children to bike and walk to school is good for everyone,” said Stan Day, SRAM’s president. "SRAM recognizes the heavy lifting being done by local advocates all around the country on this important program. We hope that our contribution can help Partnership director Deb Hubsmith and her team to support these advocates and continue to inspire progress."

“The Partnership is extremely grateful for the generous funding provided by the SRAM Cycling Fund,” said Deb Hubsmith, Director of SRTSNP. “We plan to use these funds to continue working to improve the safety and popularity of walking and bicycling to school, so that children and their communities can benefit from reduced traffic congestion, better air quality, and healthier lifestyles.

The SRAM Cycling Fund website will go live by the end of December. It will provide information about the fund and track progress of grants. In addition, SRAM expects to announce several more major grants during the next few weeks. To learn more about SRAM, please visit www.sram.com/en/.



4. The Partnership is Endorsed by National Forum on Children and Nature
Recognizing an urgent need to reconnect children with nature

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is very pleased to announce that we received endorsement from the National Forum on Children and Nature as one of 30 projects nationwide that demonstrate new and creative ways to reconnect kids with nature.

Recognizing an urgent need to reconnect kids with nature, The Conservation Fund launched the National Forum on Children and Nature in 2007. The Forum includes 51 dynamic public and private leaders and is chaired by Governors M. Jodi Rell (CT), Edward Rendell (PA), Mark Sanford (SC) and Brian Schweitzer (MT), with honorary co-chair Richard Louv, bestselling author of “Last Child in the Woods.” The mayors of Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago are Forum members, as are the CEOs of The North Face, REI and the National Audubon Society, among other organizations.

The Forum’s mission is to: elevate the issue of reconnecting children with nature to the highest levels of our national consciousness; connect the fast-growing grassroots side of this movement to some of the most powerful engines of American society – public, private and nonprofit; and make real for every American—through nationally significant demonstration projects—ways that each of us can help reconnect children with nature.

Over the past year, the Forum received 560 proposals from projects seeking endorsement. Forum advisory panels culled the best ideas for investment in children’s health through nature, particularly in the areas of education, technology and community. Ultimately, the Forum endorsed 30 projects, based on their relevance, impact and sustainability. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is honored to be one of these 30.

By endorsing these projects, the Forum commits to raising visibility and support for them. To learn more about the Forum and projects, see www.forum-on-children-and-nature.org.



5. Safe Routes to School National Partnership Federal Update
Getting ready for a new session in Congress

With the elections now behind us, Congress has been getting organized for a new session, which will start in January. Meanwhile, the focus is now on an economic stimulus or recovery bill. While the situation changes frequently, at this time it looks like Congress will reconvene this week to consider a smaller economic stimulus bill that could include food stamps, possible assistance for the automakers, and more.

Then, in January, Congress would take up a much larger economic recovery bill—possibly including $400 to $500 billion—with a focus on creating and sustaining jobs through infrastructure investments. This bill is expected to include funding for transportation projects, school modernization, and alternative energy projects.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is working closely with our colleagues at Transportation for America, America Bikes, and the National Complete Streets Coalition to make the case for including funding for bike/ped projects—including Safe Routes to School—in the recovery bill. Together, our organizations have identified at least $1.7 billion in ready-to-go bike/ped projects that could help create and sustain jobs, while creating healthy, environmentally-friendly, and safe transportation options for Americans.



6. SRTSNP Joins Transportation for America Coalition
Learn more about T4A’s platform for the next transportation bill at t4america.org

In other federal news, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership has officially joined the Transportation for America (T4A) coalition as a partner. T4A is a broad coalition of housing, environmental, public health, business, urban planning, transportation and other organizations working to make our transportation system better for all Americans: safer, cleaner, more efficient and with greater choices about how to get around our communities.

The T4A platform for the next transportation bill sets out a vision for a very different America, in which Americans have diverse options for transportation—intercity passenger rail, public transit, walking and bicycling and auto use. The platform links transportation to smart growth, mobility, equity, health, safety, economic security and the environment, and sets a strong call for an accountable, performance-based transportation system. Walking and bicycling is prevalent throughout the platform, and it also specifically calls for increased funding for Safe Routes to School. We are pleased to join the T4A coalition and work collaboratively to build a better transportation system. To learn more about T4A or to join their coalition, please visit http://t4america.org.



7. Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Call for Proposals
Deadline for brief proposals is February 3, 2009 at 3:00pm EST

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is pleased to announce a new call for proposals (CFP) for Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities, a national program whose primary goal is to implement healthy eating and active living policy- and environmental-change initiatives that can support healthier communities for children and families across the United States. The program places special emphasis on reaching children at the highest risk for obesity on the basis of race/ethnicity, income and/or geographic location.

Under this CFP, RWJF will award approximately 60 grants to community partnerships across the United States, each of which will receive up to $360,000 total over four years. All grantees must secure a cash and/or in-kind match equal to at least 50 percent of the RWJF award over the entire grant period.

Partnerships from all states are encouraged to apply. The Foundation will, however, give special consideration to proposals from 15 states where rates of childhood obesity are particularly high: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. Approximately half of the grants under this CFP will be awarded to communities within these states.

The deadline for brief proposals is February 3, 2009 at 3:00 p.m. EST. All proposals must be submitted electronically through the RWJF Grantmaking Online system.

Go to www.healthykidshealthycommunities.org to download a copy of the CFP, review frequently asked questions (FAQs), register for an applicant conference call, and access the RWJF Grantmaking Online system.



8. Alaska Safe Routes to School Builds Momentum
Expanding to rural Alaska, working with 8 communities and completing 2 grant rounds

Progressing through the 2008 – 2009 school year, the Alaska Safe Routes to School program is gaining momentum: working with eight communities, completing two grant rounds and getting ready for their next grant round applicants in the spring of 2009. They have developed projects and collaborations with other agencies to address winter issues such as low-light conditions and reflectivity, as well as conducting safety training and local planning projects. They are excited to be working with such a variety of different Alaskan communities: from the urban Municipality of Anchorage to the rural towns of Naknek, Dillingham, throughout Southeast Alaska, and many other communities, SRTS is helping schools and communities to resolve their respective connectivity issues.

As the program grows, Alaskan communities continue to foster and promote a healthier environment where children are able to safely travel on links between home and school either by walking or riding a bicycle. The importance of solving existing infrastructure “disconnects” promotes a healthier and safer environment for many people and serves a much larger community need for supportive facilities that enable mode choices.
In the upcoming months Alaska SRTS is committed to trainings in both Sitka and Cordova, along with collaborative planning of a statewide Bike/Ped Safety Summit in spring of 2009 in Anchorage, AK.

For more information on the Alaska SRTS program, please contact the SRTS Coordinator, Steve Soenksen, at (907) 465-4069, or visit the Alaska SRTS program website.



9. Exciting Time for Kansas SRTS Program
Kansas anticipates completion of several infrastructure projects in Summer 2009

The Kansas Safe Routes to School program has made significant progress since the program’s creation in 2005. Since that time, the state has completed two application cycles, is nearing completion of a third cycle and has awarded approximately $4.1 million in funding. A portion of that funding was awarded to 40 communities to create Safe Routes to School Plans, while the other portion was awarded to 13 communities to help them implement their SRTS Plans. There was also funding awarded to two programs to assist with the creation of Walking School Bus Programs.

The third application cycle was opened in February of 2008. The program is currently in the process of selecting the next grantees to receive funding to implement components of their SRTS Plans. A total of approximately $1 million will be awarded to an estimated four communities. As usual, the amount of application requests far outnumbered the level of available funds, which will make the selection process difficult.

It is an exciting time for the KS SRTS program as it is anticipated that the majority of infrastructure projects that were selected in 2007 will be complete during the summer of 2009. With the new infrastructure and the education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation components in place, there will be a new group of Kansas kids that can walk and bicycle to school, in a safe manner!

For more information on the KS SRTS program, please contact Becky Pepper, SRTS Coordinator, by email at rpepper@ksdot.org, or by phone at (785) 296-8593. 



10. SRTS News Throughout the Country
Local and state SRTS program news links

Safe Routes to School news around the country keeps growing! Updated regularly, see our new SRTS in the News media center for the latest in local, state, and national SRTS news.



Help Grow the Partnership!

Joining the Partnership is free. Please encourage other organizations, schools, businesses, and government agencies to join the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

Funding for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership has been generously provided by the Bikes Belong Coalition, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and partner affiliates.

For more information, contact:

Deb Hubsmith, Director
Safe Routes to School National Partnership
deb@saferoutespartnership.org
www.saferoutespartnership.org
(415) 454-7430