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Bowser Administration Strengthens Safe Passage Efforts to Increase Student Safety in the New School Year

Friday, August 23, 2019

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Bowser Administration, led by DC Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME), the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE), the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), the East of the River Services Office (ERS), the Office of the Chief Student Advocate, and the Anacostia Business Improvement District, launched the “Safe Spots for Students” initiative to engage businesses, government, and faith-based organizations to serve as places of safety and support along corridors frequently used by students to get to and from school. Safe Spots is one of several new initiatives that were announced as part of the Mayor’s broader Safe Passage efforts.

“The best part about these new initiatives is that they were created based on the ideas and feedback we heard from our students,” said Mayor Bowser. “We know that when our young people feel safe getting to and from school, they’re more likely to be in school every day, on time. With the help of these businesses, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations, we can better support our young people so that they can do their job – get to school every day and make every day count.”

Organizations participating in the Safe Spots for Students initiative committed to support student safety by opening their doors to students who are feeling unsafe and offering an opportunity to call a friend, familySafe Spots can be identified by a Safe Spot sign visible in the organization’s window or public area. The initiative is launching with 23 locations in the Ward 8 neighborhoods of Congress Heights and Anacostia, with the intent of expanding to other interested communities across the District.

“Safety in our communities and for our students is of the utmost priority for the District government, and we are so proud of our students for the ingenuity and consideration they used in coming up with the ideas for the safety initiatives rolling out today,” said Chancellor Lewis Ferebee.

The Safe Spots for Students initiative and other new initiatives and investments were built out of ideas that came directly from students. Earlier this year, the DME, in partnership with KIPP DC, brought together more than 200 youth from across the District to hear student concerns and ideas about how to improve safety. Additional new investments and partnerships launched by the Mayor and led by the DME this school year, include:

  • $20,000 to partner with Go Together to launch CarpooltoSchool to offer schools, parents, and students an easy way to organize carpools, walk pools and bike pools. CarpooltoSchool will launch in ten DCPS and public charter schools this school year.
  • $26,400 to partner with LiveSafe to support students’ request to more easily send emergency alerts, share their walking or riding status with others, make reports to law enforcement, and flag concerns for other students using a shared map. LiveSafe will be piloted by students in twenty schools this year, with a focus on high school students.
  • $50,000 to partner with Richard Wright Public Charter School to engage community leaders and support community-led safe passage planning and implementation efforts.
  • $65,000 for the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to expand the Transit Demand Management study, which will gather data from parents and students to better understand travel to and from school. The expanded study will help to identify routes that are currently complex or difficult to traverse using public transit and connect that information with data about student attendance.

The School Safety and Safe Passage Working Group was established to better understand and enhance safety-related policies that affect both DC Public Schools and public charter schools. In School Year 2019-20, the District will sustain a focus on six existing safe passage priority areas and add the Columbia Heights Metro as a seventh. The DME is working with public agencies and community leaders to increase the consistent presence and visibility of caring adults in these areas, growing a model piloted last school year in the Minnesota Avenue Metro area in partnership with the East River Family Strengthening Collaborative.

Collaborating agencies in School Year 2019-20 include ONSE, ERS, MPD, the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD), and the Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services (DYRS). Staff from public agencies will work in tandem with volunteer efforts organized by school and community partners.

For more information on Safe Spots, including a map of participating locations, School Year 2019-20 Safe Passage priority areas, contacts and resources for safe passage volunteer programs, visit SafePassage.dc.gov.