MnDOT awards $1 million in Safe Routes to School local coordinator grants
Funding will make it safer for students to walk, bike to school
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Six Minnesota public school districts will benefit from more than $1 million in Safe Routes to Schools local coordinator funding grants to help promote safe walking and bicycling education in schools, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said today.
Grant recipients include Saint Paul Public Schools, South Saint Paul Public Schools, Grand Rapids Public Schools, New Ulm Public Schools, Richfield Public Schools and Rochester Public Schools.
The funding will allow the school districts to launch a three-year effort with MnDOT to support Safe Routes to School programming. Districts can use the funds to hire staff, convene a team, prioritize strategies and implement solutions that fit their local need. Local coordinators will develop engagement events, train crossing guards and student patrols, and help increase walking and bicycling education in schools.
“Increasing the safety of children walking and biking not only improves health, but school attendance and academic achievement as well,” said Dave Cowan, MnDOT Safe Routes coordinator. ”Many school districts have a strong desire to support Safe Routes strategies, but limited staff time and resources are challenges. A local coordinator can transform school culture around walking and biking, ensuring more students arrive to school focused and ready to learn.”
Safe Routes to School is an international program to increase physical activity, improve health and reduce traffic congestion around schools by making it safer and easier for students to walk and bicycle to school.
MnDOT has funded more than 450 Safe Routes plans and 140 infrastructure projects across the state since 2006. Funded communities encouraged MnDOT to create funding for local coordinators to help schools implement strategies to make it safer and easier for students to get to school using the Safe Routes program as a framework.
MnDOT awarded $2.3 million in Safe Routes to School planning assistance and infrastructure grants in April 2019. These grants are funded with federal Safe Routes to School dollars.
Since 2005, MnDOT awarded more than $38 million in federal and state funds to communities to support Safe Routes to School. The majority of funding was awarded for infrastructure projects. The remainder was allocated for programs and planning that promote walkable and bikeable communities.
More information on Safe Routes to School is available at mndot.gov/saferoutes.