DC funnels millions into ensuring kids’ safety to and from school

D.C. is putting millions of dollars into funding a program that ensures kids get to and from school safely.

Mayor Muriel Bowser is investing $4.3 million into the Safe Passage program, focusing on seven priority areas experiencing increased violence this year, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Chris Geldart announced. The money will allow six affiliated community-based organizations in the Safe Passage, Safe Blocks program to hire 215 people, Geldart said.

“These are caring and trusted adults that students know and interact with, and will respond to. This work is important. And this work is real,” Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn said during a news conference Friday.

The Safe Passage, Safe Blocks organizations will receive $4.3 million from the Office of Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes for fiscal year 2022, the mayor’s office said.

“We have identified target hotspots in the community where a lot of the kids seem to congregate and get into disputes. So we strategically place our workers there to help motivate the kids to go home safely,” said Victor Battle, with Cure the Streets.

The program also involves an in-school component including conflict resolution, mediation services and community relationship-building, to keep students safe and improve student attendance.

“The adults would be lining up along the streets — a pathway from their community directly to the schools. If they have questions, if any incidents were to happen, we would have trained adults there to work with our kids, making sure they would get to school in a safe manner,” said Irwin Royster, with East River Family Strengthening Collaborative who says since August it’s had volunteers ensuring kids safely make it to school.

The city’s seven Safe Passage Priority Areas are Anacostia Metro Station, Minnesota Avenue Metro Station, L’Enfant Plaza, Waterfront Metro Station, NoMa-Gallaudet Metro Station, Good Hope Road SE corridor and Columbia Heights Metro Station.

The money will be finalized for different organizations in the coming weeks, and programs will start on a rolling basis, the mayor said in a release.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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