Mayor Bowser announces $8.5M grant to community organizations for school safety measures to protect children during their commute.

DC children waking to school. Photo courtesy Mary Taylor

In October of 2023 Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice (DMPSJ) announced that four community-based organizations will receive a total of $8.5 million for the Fiscal Year 2024 Safe Passage, Safe Blocks Program. The program supports students living in high-priority areas with commuting to school safely and getting to class daily and on time.

“Our young people deserve to feel safe and supported, and that includes before, during, and after school. Our Safe Passage, Safe Blocks program is part of our commitment to youth safety,” said Mayor Bowser. “This investment supports students in commuting to school safely, getting to school on time, and being set up for success for the future.”

The Safe Passage, Safe Blocks program, now part of the DMPSJ portfolio, provides student monitoring and impactful engagement services to 48 designated schools and one Metro Station within eight priority areas: Anacostia/Good Hope Road, Columbia Heights, Congress Heights, L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station, Eastern High School, Minnesota Avenue, NoMa-Gallaudet U, Petworth/Brightwood, and Tenleytown. 
  
Collectively, approximately $8.5 million is being awarded to four community-based organizations for program components which include:

  • Monitoring student commute routes within the assigned to priority areas. 
  • Working collaboratively with schools, relevant District agency staff, other Safe Passage teams, and the surrounding community to identify, intervene, diffuse, and report community violence. 
  • Supporting attendance by encouraging students to attend class daily and on time. 
  • Positively engaging students, families, businesses, civic associations, institutional facilities, and community members within the priority area to build support for the Safe Passage program. 
  • Ensuring staff suitability and participation in all training and technical assistance. 
  • Collecting and analyzing program data to identify trends and ensure proper program implementation.

The Safe Passage, Safe Blocks program grantees for FY24 include: 

OrganizationSafe Passage Priority Area
Center for Nonprofit AdvancementL’Enfant Plaza (Ward 6)Eastern High School (Ward 7)
Collaborative Solutions for Communities (CSC)Columbia Heights (Wards 1 and 4)Tenleytown (Ward 3)Petworth-Brightwood (Ward 4)NoMa-Gallaudet U (Wards 5 and 6)Congress Heights (Ward 8)
InnerCity Collaborative Community Development Corporation (InnerCity)Minnesota Avenue (Ward 7)
National Association for the Advancement of Returning Citizens (NAARC)Anacostia (Ward 8)
Good Hope Road SE (Ward 8)

“Ensuring students can get to and from school safely is the number one priority for the Safe Passage program,” said the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Lindsey Appiah. “This program is critical to fortifying the safety network for our students, ensuring a secure path to education and development.”

Residents can spot Safe Passage Ambassadors throughout the community stationed in priority areas wearing their recognizable green vests.

For more information, visit safepassage.dc.gov.
 

ABout Safe Passage

Safe Passage, Safe Blocks is a District-wide youth safety program that targets eight priority areas with higher rates of crime during student commute hours. Within each priority area, Safe Passage serves select DC Public Schools (DCPS) and public charter schools. Safe Passage employees walk students through the neighborhood to and from school.  They build relationships with students and schools to support conflict resolution, restorative justice, de-escalating conflict, and contacting other city safety personnel when appropriate. 

How does it help? 

Safe Passage employees serve as an additional set of eyes and ears during students’ commutes. They are specially trained to build positive, trusting relationships with students and help connect school leaders with potential conflicts.  The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education hosts coordination calls for each of the initial safe passage priority areas between the school leaders, police officers, and transportation specialists who work in those areas to create solutions for any student safety issue that is present in that area.

How much is invested?

The program is funded through American Rescue Plan Act funds, for a total of $15.2 million across the fiscal year 2022 to the fiscal year 2025.

Who uses this program?

In the 2022-23 school year, the program is serving 52 school sites across eight identified priority areas: 

  • Anacostia Metro Station 
  • Minnesota Avenue Metro Station 
  • L’Enfant Plaza/Waterfront Metro Station 
  • NoMa-Gallaudet Metro Station 
  • Good Hope Road SE Corridor 
  • Congress Heights 
  • Columbia Heights 
  • Petworth/Brightwood
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