By Yokota Fritz
Thirteen states with active Safe Routes to School (SR2S) programs currently are accepting applications to fund local "Safe Routes" programs. If you're actively involved in bicycling advocacy in California, Utah, New Mexico, Nebraska, Missouri, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, West Viriginia or Delaware, contact your state Safe Routes to School coordinator and find out how your local cycling advocacy efforts can receive federal funds.
The purpose of the federally funded Safe Routes to School program is to improve walking and bicycling access for children to schools. For those lobbying local governments for improved facilities only to be rebuffed by claims that funding is not available, SR2S may be a source of funding.
Federal law mandates that between 10% and 30% of Safe Routes spending must be for 'non-infrastructure' projects. Possible uses for this funding includes cycling safety education for students and teachers, and "Bike To School" type promotion efforts. I've seen SR2S funds used to pay for teacher in-service training, to purchase incentives for children to ride their bikes to school, and to pay LCIs for their time in teaching school staff and children.
In some states, cycling advocacy groups and private organizations can apply and have received funding. If you have a relationship with a local government, it can be helpful to have them submit your proposal on your behalf.
Even if your state is not actively accepting grant applications, get your thinking caps on to think of innovative and effective programs to get children to walk and bike to school. Let me know if you've been involved in the Safe Routes grant process; I may want to highlight what you've done.