PHOENIX—Now that school is back in session and many Arizona kids are walking or bicycling to get to class every morning, the Arizona Department of Transportation wants to encourage even more children to do the same.
ADOT is currently accepting applications for its latest cycle of federal grants to implement Safe Routes to School programs in schools and communities around Arizona. Safe Routes to School is a federally funded program that encourages elementary and middle school students to walk or bike to school regularly, in order to foster healthy habits and lower the risk of childhood obesity and diabetes.
There is currently $5 million available in grant funding that will be awarded to applicants for both infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects. Infrastructure grants up to $400,000 each can go towards improvements such as sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, signage and striping. Non-infrastructure grants up to $45,000 each can go towards programs and activities, such as providing bike helmets to students, implementing safety education and for law enforcement.
“Now that the weather is getting nicer, this is the perfect time for schools and communities to encourage their children to get outside and walk or bike to school as a way to get in their daily exercise,” said Brian Fellows, ADOT’s Safe Routes to School program coordinator. “You don’t need a lot of money or time to start a successful initiative. It can be something as simple as a Walking School Bus, where kids meet at a designated location every morning and walk to school together with parent volunteers to ensure that everyone gets there safely. It’s easy and it’s fun.”
Grant applications are available at www.azdot.gov/srts under “Applications, Forms and Guidance” and must be submitted by Dec. 30. Eligible applicants include schools, school districts, tribal communities, cities, counties and nonprofit organizations. Applicants can also learn more about applying for Safe Routes to School grants through ADOT’s Planning Assistance Program and Tribal Planning Assistance Program. These programs provide selected communities with free consultant support to assess their sites, meet with their teams and then help them write their Safe Routes to School grants.
In addition to the $5 million in federal grants that are available through ADOT’s Safe Routes to School program, the National Center for Safe Routes to School is now accepting applications for 25 mini-grants of $1,000 each. Mini-grants fund activities that range from the nuts and bolts that help start or sustain a Safe Routes to School program to new ideas that enable and encourage children to safely walk and bike to school. Applications for the mini-grants are due on Oct. 19. The link for the application can be found at www.azdot.gov/srts.
ADOT’s Safe Routes to School program first began in 2007. Since then, ADOT has provided approximately $10.5 million in federal funds to more than 150 schools and communities statewide.