United Way, in partnership with Iroquois School District, launch Safer Walking Routes to School

Thursday Jun 8th, 2023

Students cannot learn if they are not in school. That's why United Way is committed to ensuring students arrive to school on time and ready to learn each and every day.

United Way, in partnership with the Iroquois School District, recently announced the launching of Safer Walking Routes to School and the installation of accompanying signage in the community. Signs have been installed in Wesleyville and next steps are being taken to begin installation in the community of Lawrence Park. Safer Walking Routes to School was launched in the City of Erie when United Way partnered with Erie’s Public Schools and five community schools in early 2020.

Nearly 82% of Iroquois Elementary, a United Way community school, students walk to bus stops along busy streets and intersections, with some needing to cross streets to arrive at their assigned stop. It is estimated 12% of the student population walks directly to school or is driven by a family member. Those students who walk navigate busy streets on foot and face intersections that may not have a crossing guard present. United Way’s Safer Walking Routes to School initiative will help ensure the safety of all students in the Iroquois School District but most notably those students in the elementary school, who often walk unsupervised, as they navigate hazards along their walk.

Funded by a $25,000 grant from the National Road Safety Foundation and Governor’s Highway Safety Association, Safer Walking Routes signs installation has begun through Wesleyville, Lawrence Park and Lake Cliff. This project spans boroughs and townships and could only happen because of the strong partnership between Iroquois School District, United Way and local government. Partners are also grateful for the in-kind support of Tungsten Creative Group who assisted with creative development and signage ordering.

Following installation of more than 100 signs, a summer awareness campaign will launch to promote the signage on school social media and Iroquois Elementary is set to distribute educational and awareness materials to students and families. Sign installation should be completed in late August, just in time for the new school year.

Jennifer Foutz, Iroquois Elementary principal shared, “Because Iroquois is such a small school district, providing students with guidance regarding safe walking routes to school is one way we can encourage community partnerships and provide a tangible representation of our commitment to student safety. As we move forward with sign installation, it is my hope collaboration with both Lawrence Park Township and Wesleyville Borough will bring the communities together in support of our students. We look forward to working with our families and students to provide education regarding safe routes and support as we implement future programming to support safe walking routes.”

Michelle Anderson, director of operations The National Road Safety Foundation added, “Through this grant, United Way was able to deliver an innovative program to ensure the safety of the young people in their community and provide a template other localities can adopt. Micromobility is becoming more and more common as we share the road and the National Road Safety Foundation is proud to partner with local organizations like this.” 

“Every child deserves a safe walk to school, but kids face incredible risks sharing the road with dangerous motor vehicle drivers,” said Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Adkins. “I’m incredibly proud that GHSA and the National Road Safety Foundation could support this great community project to provide safe walking routes for Iroquois Elementary School students.”

Corporate and Funding Partners are vital to the work of community schools because they provide financial support. Many corporate partners also support their school's’ specific needs through volunteer engagement efforts, professional development and in-kind resources. The corporate partners in place at Iroquois Elementary are Reed Manufacturing, TechnipFMC and Widget Financial.