The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has provided a three-year renewal grant of $2,999,725 to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, a diverse, nationwide coalition of more than 550 organizations. The grant will support the National Partnership’s efforts to advance Safe Routes to School, a federal program that creates safe, convenient and fun opportunities for U.S. children to walk and bicycle to and from school.
“This program will help a generation of children to become more active and healthy through the construction of lasting street-scale improvements that will result in more walking and bicycling,” said Deb Hubsmith, director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. “We are grateful for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s generous support, and look forward to working with many partners to help reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in the next three years.”
The grant will build on policy wins from recent years, and advance built environment improvements in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This project will result in thousands of more miles of sidewalks and bike paths, traffic-calming projects and safer street crossings, and will enable many more students to benefit from Safe Routes to School. The project will focus on supporting communities with high rates of childhood obesity.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is leading national efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015. This grant contributes toward that goal, and has four main elements:
1) Helping all states to increase the award and obligation of federal Safe Routes to School and Transportation Enhancements funds, resulting in the construction of bicycle and pedestrian facilities nationwide, particularly in lower-income communities;
2) Developing a national learning network to share best practices among advocates for advancing street-scale improvements, such as sidewalks and pathways and joint-use agreements that develop opportunities for cities and schools to collaborate on creating safe places for kids to play and engage in healthy physical activity;
3) Advancing state-level policy reform in seven states (Calif., Fla., Miss., N.C., N.J., Ohio, and Tenn.) which will result in the award and obligation of federal transportation funds, street-scale improvements and joint-use agreements. The seven states were selected based on need and their capacity to succeed with the program goals; and
4) Publication of two policy reports highlighting the importance of the built environment in relation to improving health.
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership was founded in 2005 and is leading a national movement designed to make it safe, fun and convenient to walk and bicycle to and from school and in daily life. In 1969, approximately half of all school-age children walked or bicycled to school. Today, only about 13 percent of children in America walk or bicycle to school. Since 2005, Congress has dedicated funding for state departments of transportation to provide grants to schools and communities to build pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and run educational programs to support more walking and bicycling. A growing body of evidence confirms that community and street-scale improvements to the built environment play an important role in increasing physical activity for children and adults.