Wauwatosa's McKinley Elementary School has received a national grant to help expand its Safe Routes to School program.
The National Center for Safe Routes to School (NCSRS) awarded McKinley one of just 26 mini-grants of $1,000 to support projects that encourage students and their families to walk or bicycle safely to school. The grant becomes available during this semester.
McKinley intends to expand its Walking School Bus (WSB) program by reaching out to community members, businesses and three nearby universities. WSB encourages encourages parents who have been driving their children to school to form groups that walk together with volunteer adults accompanying them.
The program reduces traffic congestion around schools and increases safety and a sense of well-being for parents reluctant to send their children out alone.
The grant will pay for recruitment efforts including posters, advertising and digital marketing strategies to connect with college students who would assist in leading McKinley WSBs. Training sessions and background checks will be required of all volunteers.
As a core group of volunteers is trained, additional WSB routes will be added. In addition, McKinley staff will develop a “Wauwatosa Walking School Bus Handbook” which will be available to other elementary schools in the Wauwatosa School District.
“This grant award reflects the dedication of McKinley staff and families," said Superintendent Phil Ertl. "Sarah Lerand, McKinley parent, along with other parents; Mark Carter, McKinley principal; and Jeff Rozonowski, McKinley district alderman, have all been instrumental in promoting safe routes to school.
"This partnership between the City of Wauwatosa and the Wauwatosa School District is essential in providing safe travel for our students.”
Established in May 2006, the NCSRS assists states and communities in enabling and encouraging children to walk or bicycle safely to school. The NCSRS also provides technical support and resources for the national Walk to School Day and encourages and supports worldwide promotion and participation.
"This is our fifth round of mini-grants, and we continue to be impressed with how communities can leverage a little bit of funding and a lot of commitment to develop new programs and to build upon strategies that may already be working well,” said Lauren Marchetti, director of the NCSRS. "The community and student leadership recognized here exemplify the forward-thinking mindset that can lead to communities that offer a variety of transportation options."