June 2014

Safe Routes to School E-News
Issue #100: June 2014 

Safe Routes to School E-News is a monthly email newsletter published by the Safe Routes Partnership (Safe Routes Partnership), which is leading the national movement for Safe Routes to School by coordinating and energizing more than 600 organizations, government agencies, schools and professional groups. Our mission is to advance 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.

The Safe Routes Partnership is on Facebook and Twitter. Join us!

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

In this issue:

  1. The Latest from Capitol Hill
  2. Strengthening School Wellness Policy through Fire Up Your Feet
  3. New FOAs Released by CDC to Advance Prevention, Equity
  4. Walking School Buses in the New York Times
  5. Attend a Tweetchat on Latinos and Active Spaces
  6. Register for our Next Free Webinar
  7. Prioritizing Active Transportation and Physical Activity in Southern States
  8. Strengthening Complete Streets in Prince George’s County, MD
  9. Highlighted Blog Posts

1. The Latest from Capitol Hill

Lawmakers Continue Debate over Funding, Timing on Transportation Bill

This month, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee completed markup of the Map-21 Reauthorization Act. The Senate’s reauthorization of our nation’s surface transportation programs includes some significant wins for Safe Routes to School, including: restoring eligibility for non-profits, returning Safe Routes to School projects to 100 percent federal funding, creating greater local control and transparency for the Transportation Alternatives Program, and the inclusion of a non-motorized performance measure.
Since then, Congress has moved into a period of hurry up and wait on any further action.  The Senate Banking, Commerce, and Finance Committees must each pass their respective portions of the bill before the Senate can take a final vote, and so far we’ve heard only silence from the House. Even former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood chimed in last week, saying there is “nothing happening…when it comes to the highway bill.”  The largest hurdle in the House now is not necessarily policy, but how to pay for a long-term bill.  On that front there’s similar inaction, but House Members are beginning to chime in that lame duck – the period between November elections and the New Year – may be the best time to move a financing bill.  In the meantime, we are working behind the scenes with offices to build support for our priorities so that we’re ready when things do kick into gear. 

2. Strengthening School Wellness Policy through Fire Up Your Feet 

The purpose of encouragement programs like National Bike to School Day and Fire Up Your Feet isn’t just to get families excited about walking and bicycling one day or one month out of the year – it’s to inspire lasting change and lifelong healthy habits. Read the story of one La Mesa, CA parent whose participation in a weekly walking group and Fire Up Your Feet led her to jump in feet first to work with her school and district to improve Northmont Elementary’s school wellness policy.
Register now for the October Fire Up Your Feet challenge and we’ll send you reminders as the school year starts up again! Also, be sure to check out our healthy fundraising option for your next school fundraiser.

3. New FOAs Released by CDC to Advance Prevention, Equity 

New funding opportunities from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer public health departments, school districts, and community based organizations the opportunity to build healthier communities with federal support. Safe Routes to School stakeholders may be interested in the following opportunities:
Programs to Reduce Obesity in High Obesity Areas
Funds up to 6 Land Grant Colleges and Universities located in states with counties with an adult obesity prevalence of over 40 percent. Application deadline July 23, 2014
Partnerships to Improve Community Health
Supports implementation of evidenced- and practice-based strategies that address previously-identified community gaps and needs within a defined jurisdiction to reduce the prevalence of chronic disease and related risk factors. Letter of Intent (required) due June 5, 2014. Application deadline July 22, 2014.

4. Walking School Buses in the New York Times 

“Walking school buses are catching on in school districts nationwide because they are seen as a way to fight childhood obesity, improve attendance rates and ensure that kids get to school safely,” the New York Times reported last week, in a story highlighting the growing support for walking to school across the country.
School staff and parents who are interested in starting a walking school bus in their community can take advantage of free resources offered through Fire Up Your Feet to learn about walking and bicycling programs, walkability checklists, and more.

5. Attend a #GrowingHealthyChange Tweetchat on Latinos and Active Spaces 

Latino kids are less likely to live near safe places for physical activity like parks and recreation centers, which contributes to higher obesity rates.
What can be done?
Learn more about increasing access to active spaces and share your resources, stories, and questions at the #GrowingHealthyChange Tweetchat, “Active Spaces & Latino Kids” at noon central (1 p.m. eastern) Tuesday, June, 10 2014. The chat is co-hosted by Salud America!Change Lab Solutions, and the Safe Routes Partnership.
Follow the Tweetchat on Twitter (via @SaludToday,@ChangeLabWorks, and @SafeRoutesNow to get resources and examples of how to make safe, walkable, bikable, and all-around active spaces in your community, and share what has worked to create active spaces for kids in your area.

6. Register for our Next Free Webinar 

Our monthly technical assistance webinar series features expert speakers, a chat feature for participants, and archived downloadable post-webinar recordings. Join us for our next webinar:
Managing and Retaining Volunteers for Long Term Success!
June 19th at 2pm Eastern – Register here
Part two in a series of two webinars will focus on managing and retaining volunteers to participate in Safe Routes to School Programs. 

7. Prioritizing Active Transportation and Physical Activity in Southern States 

As most people know, the South is a unique region with a rich history, strong cultural identity, and admittedly, some challenges. The Safe Routes Partnership's State Network team is launching a series of focus groups to discuss the unique challenges in southern states when it comes to leveraging federal transportation dollars for Safe Routes to School, implementing Complete Streets policies, and opening up new spaces for community use through shared use agreements. We will be talking with thought leaders from across the South to learn more about the challenges to increasing physical activity and active transportation that are unique to this region. These focus groups will help us tailor our efforts and messaging to tap into the themes that will convince decision makers in this region that prioritizing active transportation and physical activity is a win-win proposition all the way around. If you are interested in participating in or learning the results of our focus group conversations, please reach out to our Southern States Coordinator, Carrie Turner (carrie@saferoutespartnership.org).

8. Strengthening Complete Streets in Prince George’s County, MD 

While Complete Streets policies currently exist in both the State of Maryland and Prince George’s County, the County’s decision makers recently spent a day at a Complete Streets workshop, considering how to align local policies with the county and state policies and to improve connectivity between its jurisdictions in order to make the county safer and more appealing for people bicycling and walking. The Safe Routes Partnership’s Regional Network in Greater Washington DC co-hosted the workshop with the HEAL Cities and Towns Campaign of the Mid-Atlantic. Read more here.

9. Highlighted Blog Posts

Florida Rallies Around Bike to School Day (Heather Murphy)
Ride on Chicago Raises More Than $100,000 for Better Biking (PeopleForBikes)

For more information, contact:

Margaux Mennesson, Communications Manager
Safe Routes Partnership