This year we’re excited to be awarding $188,868 of mini grant funds to 52 schools across Michigan for active school bus, corner captain, or other initiatives which facilitate the institutionalization and sustainability of active transportation programs.
The Safe Routes to School mini-grant program started in 2011 with 15 schools selected through a competitive Request for Proposals process for Walking School Bus- only projects. The mini-grant program has expanded from its initial year when it awarded $64,050 to stimulate entry point for planning and interest in walking and biking. This program has adapted to be flexible for a mix of single-school, multi-school, and district-wide communities to offer expanded non-infrastructure initiatives that support long-term increases in students using active transportation rather than being driven in a car.
The benefits of the mini grant program are many; most importantly it has dramatically increased the number and safety of children walking and biking to school in the recipient communities. It often serves as a first step for schools and communities new to SRTS, building momentum to carry them through the planning and application process for infrastructure improvements which helps communities identify infrastructure needs. The first district-wide active transportation mini-grant initiative in Michigan was launched in the Holt Public Schools, which was targeted to build on the success they had developed in their first years with the mini grant Walking School Bus focused program at one school by expanding to all elementary and middle schools in the district.
Alternatively, we have seen the use of mini-grant funds to continue the support and culture of walking and biking to school thorough non-infrastructure programming after major grant funding has been awarded. We’re proud to say that over the eight years of the SRTS mini-grant program 147 schools have been awarded with a combined total of $795,564 when accounting for this year’s round of awards. We’re remarkably proud of the work past communities have accomplished with these funds and we can’t wait for the great achievements this year’s recipients will make as they continue to instill an interest and lifestyle of walking and biking for the students of their area.