The Minnesota Department of Transportation recently made some significant investments in school districts across the state as part of their Safe Routes to School program.  Nineteen schools and communities will benefit from nearly $350,000 in grant money - including a Northland school.

In general, the Safe Routes to School program aims to improve walking and bicycling programs with schools and communities.  It's an international program that the Minnesota Department of Transportation has participated in for the past few years.  Part of the work involves reducing traffic congestion around school campuses and buildings, improving safety, increasing physical activity and improving health - all with the mission of "making it easier for students to walk and bicycle to school and in daily life" - according to details released by MNDOT.

The funding comes in three distinct levels:  Planning Assistance Grants - which provides the resources for communities to convene a team, come to a consensus on key issues, prioritization, and finding solutions; "Boost" Grants - which support existing Safe Routes to School work - like providing bicycles to schools to improve physical education curriculum or address a community-specific need to help kids walk and bicycle to school sagely; and - new this year - Demonstration Project Technical Assistance Awards - which allow schools and local roadway authorities to test-engineer designs before making final installations.

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The Minnesota Department of Transportation has been involved with the program since 2005.  In that time,  they've awarded more than $50 million in federal and state funds to communities to support Safe Routes to School. The majority of those dollars have been spent in infrastructure.

A variety of out-state and metro schools received funding this time around.  Chisholm was included in the grant money - receiving funds as part of a Safe Routes to School 2021 Planning Assistance Grant. Click here to get more details.

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