Safe Routes to School E-News
Issue #57: September 2010
Safe Routes to School E-News is a monthly email newsletter published by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership (National Partnership), which is leading the national movement for Safe Routes to School by coordinating and energizing more than 500 organizations, government agencies, schools and professional groups. Our mission is to advocate for safe walking and bicycling to and from schools, and in daily life, to improve the health and well-being of America’s children and to foster the creation of livable, sustainable communities.
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In this issue:
1. The Partnership Reaches More Than 500 Partners
Join the Safe Routes to School National Partnership today! It’s free.
2. Comments on Our Draft Five Year Strategic Plan
Draft will be released September 10, comments accepted until October 11
3. The Partnership Hires Three New Staff Members
Help us welcome Dave Cowan, Beth Richards and Stephanie Smith as our newest staff
4. Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s Federal Update
Congress set to return in mid-September
5. Safe Routes to School State Network Project Update
Personal safety resource
6. New RWJF Transportation Webinar Series: Keep Kids Moving
Partnership staff, Margo Pedroso and Robert Ping, are presenting
7. International Walk to School Day is October 6
State networks are inviting their Congressional members– you should too!
8. Arizona’s SRTS Program Awarded $2.2 Million in 4th Grant Cycle
Also, learn more about Arizona’s grant writing assistance program
9. Spotlight on Minnesota
SRTS making big strides through collaboration across the state
10. SRTS News Throughout the Country
Local and state SRTS program news links
1. The Partnership Reaches More Than 500 Partners
Join the Safe Routes to School National Partnership today! It’s free.
The Partnership is excited to announce that we now have more than 500 partners. We look forward to working with all these non-profit organizations, cities, schools, other government agencies and businesses to advance Safe Routes to School nationwide and thank all of them for their support both of the Partnership and of SRTS.
The Partnership is working to ensure that the $800 million in Safe Routes to School federal dollars are spent, and on good projects. We are also leveraging additional resources for Safe Routes to School, developing state networks to foster policy changes, educating policymakers and leading the charge to create a culture that encourages safe bicycling and walking to and from schools throughout the nation. We greatly appreciate our partners’ help in changing the habits of an entire generation.
Organizations joining the partnership commit to abide by the Memorandum of Understanding and support SRTS efforts. More than 500 groups have pledged their support for the Partnership by signing the MOU. Join our growing list of supporting organizations and become a partner affiliate today! It’s free.
Throughout 2010, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership has been working to develop a five-year strategic plan for the years 2011-2015. In April and May, we received input from more than 700 people through surveys, focus groups and interviews. We heard a lot of opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of the Safe Routes to School movement and what the Safe Routes to School National Partnership should focus on throughout the coming years.
Using all of that input as a foundation, we have created a draft 2011-2015 Strategic Plan which will be released on the home page of our website on Friday, September 10. We would like your feedback to see if we’ve honed in on the most important focus areas to ensure a strong and sustainable Safe Routes to School movement and a world in which children can safely walk and bicycle to school.
A short survey on our Strategic Plan will be open until Monday, October 11 at 6 PM EDT, and available through a link on our home page. Thereafter, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership will evaluate the comments, and make revisions to the plan. It will be adopted by our Steering Committee in November. Thank you in advance for your time.
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership hired three new staff members over the summer to expand our growing team. We welcome Dave Cowan as our new Program Manager, Beth Richards as our new Development Director and Stephanie Smith as our new State Network Manager.
As our new Program Manager, Dave will be managing the Technical Service Providers (TSPs) of the five Local School Projects, administering the Safe Routes to School evaluation project, and producing reports and resources while providing technical assistance and training for local SRTS initiatives.
Beth, our new Development Director, will be managing fundraising activities of the Partnership including corporate sponsorships, cause marketing partnerships, foundation support, events and individual giving campaigns. In addition, Beth serves as the liaison to our 500+ partner affiliates to enhance communication and expand opportunities for collaboration.
Our new State Network Manager, Stephanie, will be overseeing eight states in our State Network Project - California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Montana, Tennessee and Virginia - and three regions - Atlanta, GA, District of Columbia and Los Angeles, CA.
For each of our new staff member’s full bios and contact information, click here.
Congress has been in recess for most of the past month, but will be returning to Washington, DC the week of September 13, 2010. There is likely to be a flurry of activity in the subsequent few weeks as Members of Congress try to move several pending bills before adjourning in early October.
Given the very limited time remaining on the legislative calendar, we are now hearing that it is unlikely that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) will release a draft transportation bill in September. Instead, Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is expected to release a series of principles or white papers describing her intended approach towards a transportation bill.
Should Congress return after the elections for a “lame duck” legislative session later this year, we have heard that Chairman Boxer hopes to be able to move forward some form of transportation policy. That could entail a full transportation bill, a shorter-term two or three year transportation bill or another extension. The current long-term extension expires December 31, 2010, so Congress will at least need to extend the transportation bill to keep funding flowing. We continue to work with members of the EPW Committee to position Safe Routes to School for success in whichever option Congress selects.
On the federal agency side, Maury Elementary in Washington, DC hosted a great walk and bicycle to school event on August 24, 2010. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez participated in an extremely large walking school bus, with dozens and dozens of children and parents turning out in a local park to start the walk and bicycle to school. Both Secretary Duncan and Administrator Mendez spoke about the importance of the federal Safe Routes to School program and the Let’s Move campaign in getting more kids physically active. Local DC leaders Mayor Adrian Fenty, Chancellor Michelle Rhee and Councilman Tommy Wells (who serves as co-chair of the DC Safe Routes to School Network) also attended and spoke about how important it is that neighborhood schools are safe and attractive options for families.
One of the state-level policy issues that the State Network Project is taking on in 2010 and 2011 is personal safety. Although Safe Routes to School policies and programs cannot independently solve complex crime and related issues in neighborhoods, a lot can be done to improve personal safety. State networks are building relationships at the state and local levels with law enforcement agencies and community organizations that specialize in personal safety, which will contribute to policy change and help to supplement Safe Routes to School program safety efforts. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership created a fact sheet that introduces the subject of personal safety and offers specific examples of techniques that advocates can utilize at the state and local level, including building partnerships with law enforcement agencies, decision makers, advocacy groups and programs, implementing state laws and taking on specific safety-related issues such as graffiti, stray dogs, abandoned houses, traffic safety, calming and infrastructure and even environmental design. The personal safety fact sheet can be downloaded at: http://www.saferoutespartnership.org/state/bestpractices/personalsafety
You are invited to attend The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity’s new webinar series "Keeping Kids Moving: How Equitable Transportation Policy Can Reverse Childhood Obesity." Webinars will be held every other week on Thursdays at 2 pm eastern time.
You can register for the following webinar sessions:
Thursday, September 9
"Ready Set Go: Transportation Reauthorization"
This webinar will introduce the federal transportation authorization and its various funding streams. Margo Pedroso, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s Deputy Director, is a presenter. The webinar will include recommendations on how to ensure that investments in transportation are made equitably, so that all children and families have access to safe, reliable, affordable transportation options that encourage healthy, active lifestyles.
Thursday, September 23
"Hide and Seek: Where is Your School and How Do You Get There?"
Safe Routes to School and school siting guidelines within the framework of broader sustainable community development will be discussed during this webinar. Experts, including the Partnerships State Network Director, Robert Ping, will offer effective tactics for community leaders, schools and parents to help more children safely walk and bicycle to school.
Thursday, October 7
"On the Go: Complete Streets and Public Transportation"
This session will highlight strategies for effective advocacy and implementation of complete streets policies and offer advice for ensuring that access to public transportation and active living opportunities are equitably provided to all communities.
Thursday, October 21
"Feet to the Streets: Alternatives to Motorized Transportation"
This webinar will discuss strategies for creating opportunities that encourage non-motorized transportation including: developing systems of trails and bike paths, implementing incentives for reducing dependence on motorized transportation and promoting innovative land use strategies that support a variety of modes of active transportation.
International Walk to School Day is taking place next month on Wednesday, October 6, 2010. More than 1,000 schools are currently registered! You can register your school today at www.walktoschool.org/register. For more resources, such as promotional tools, event ideas and more, visit www.walktoschool.org.
As you are planning your event, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership encourages you to think about the bigger picture of who to invite. Inviting your Congressional member, and local elected officials to your event is a great way to show them Safe Routes to School in action and to generate support for future funding. Several of our SRTS State Network Project states are doing just this – inviting their Congressional members to educational walk to school day events. Check out the Partnership’s step-by-step toolkit, which was created to assist you specifically with invitations to elected officials and gaining media attention.
The Arizona SRTS program concluded its fourth grant cycle this past May, awarding $2.2 million -- eleven infrastructure projects and thirteen non-infrastructure projects. They also continued their SRTS National Course workshops, holding workshops in five communities, including Nogales, Arizona, which is within one mile of the international border with Mexico.
Arizona’s Planning Assistance Program (PAP) continues into its third cycle, providing consultant-led workshops to six new recipients in urban, suburban, rural and tribal communities. The two-person PAP consultant team (an SRTS facilitator and an engineer) spend two days in each community, identifying barriers to walking and bicycling and meeting with school staff and community members. After completion of the on-site portion of the program, they create a custom travel plan, and assist the communities in writing their next SRTS grant.
Earlier in Arizona’s SRTS program, they realized that many communities were not applying for SRTS funding because they simply didn’t know how to write a grant. In order to address this need, and bring more communities to the table, they created the Grant Writing Assistance Program (GWAP). GWAP workshops focus solely on strategies for potential SRTS applicants on how to write a competitive grant application. Their consultant, who’s both a professional grant writer and a nationally trained SRTS instructor, explains the grant application in detail, defining terms and providing tips for attendees. They also receive three extra points on their next SRTS application. They will hold GWAP workshops in six communities, including the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Colorado River Indian Tribes – two of Arizona’s twenty-two federally recognized Indian tribes.
Finally, after a two-year development process, Arizona is preparing to launch a pilot of the Active School Neighborhood Checklist (ASNC). The ASNC is a self-scored, quantitative assessment tool for selecting walkable, bikeable school sites. ASNC accomplishes this by awarding or subtracting points for the presence or lack of certain progressive city, school or school district policies and built environment features. In the Arizona pilot, communities are eligible to receive technical assistance or special recognition based on their ASNC scores. They hope to launch the ASNC nationally in 2012.
Minnesota is working hard to increase the number of kids safely walking or bicycling to school. Minnesota has three significant efforts to support their vision.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) has completed four rounds of SRTS funding. So far, Mn/DOT has 85% ($7.5 million) of their SRTS funds obligated. Overall, 92 projects in 74 communities have received funding to improve intersections, provide updated signals and incorporate other traffic calming techniques. Mark Fiers, Mn/DOT’s SRTS Coordinator, estimates its next solicitation will open in the first quarter of 2011.
Simultaneously, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is entering the second year of the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) which is providing $47 million across all of its 86 counties and seven tribal communities to implement strategies focusing on policy, systems and environmental changes to make a sustainable, lasting impact on the state’s obesity and tobacco crisis. Nearly one third of communities are implementing “active transportation to/ from schools” and half are supporting development of “active communities.” In one example, Dakota County has supported 10 schools in developing comprehensive travel plans that incorporate SRTS. At least 181 schools across the state are actively engaged in implementing SRTS or walking school bus policies that will increase opportunities for children to walk or bicycle to school. These schools serve at least 79,000 students, or almost 10% of Minnesota’s student population.
The recently formed MN SRTS State Network is helping to connect local initiatives with opportunities to advance state level policies. Additionally, the state network and Mn/DOT are working to provide comprehensive training to increase local capacity to implement SRTS and successfully compete in the next solicitation. The MN state network is also working to see successful implementation of the recently enacted state level complete streets policy.
For more information on Minnesota’s SRTS program, visit their website or contact the MN SRTS Coordinator, Mark Fiers, at (651) 366-3833 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the Minnesota SRTS State Network, please contact Jill Chamberlain, MN SRTS Network Organizer, at Minnesota@saferoutespartnership.org or (651) 662-2192.
Safe Routes to School news around the country keeps growing! Updated regularly, see our new Safe Routes to School in the News media center for the latest in local, state, and national SRTS news.
Help Grow the National Partnership!
Joining the National Partnership is free. Please encourage other organizations, schools, businesses, and government agencies to join the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, a network of more than 500 organizations and agencies.
Funding for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership has been generously provided by the Bikes Belong Coalition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kaiser Permanente, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, SRAM Cycling Fund, individuals and partner affiliates.
For more information, contact: