In partnership with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), the Minnesota Association of Development Organizations (MADO) has been responsible for actively encouraging Minnesota school districts and local communities to participate in the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program. In addition to educating local leaders and engaging new participants, the regional development commissions (RDCs) provide planning assistance to schools and communities in their respective regions through planning contracts with MnDOT.
This model is contrary to the funding structure used in some states, which often distribute funds directly to communities and school districts in order to hire their own private planning consultants. The advantage of the MADO model is that the new partnerships provide not only one-time planning assistance to these communities and schools, but also offer a permanent resource for the schools to reach out to for future resources and implementation assistance. Unlike consulting firms, RDCs are available within each region to help schools and communities long after the initial SRTS plan is complete.
Through this innovative partnership model, the SRTS program has reached all corners of the state. To date, seventy-six communities in greater Minnesota have received SRTS planning and/or implementation funding with the help of their RDO.
The initiative Safe Routes to School Planning in Rural Districts – Local, Regional and State Partnership for Success was awarded a 2014 Excellence in Regional Transportation Award. View descriptions of other award winning projects here.