2017 - Research

Examining Practices That Promote Access to Safe Routes to School Programs in Vulnerable Communities

Key Takeaways: While states define vulnerable communities differently, this study provides an overview of a number of common practices that states employ throughout the Safe Routes to School program process to allocate greater funding to low-income and/or disadvantaged communities.  


  • The most frequently employed practice among states that funded low-income schools at a rate higher than expected in one or more funding cycle was the point priority, or special consideration for low-income or disadvantaged communities during the scoring of funding applications. 

  • Awareness and education, provision of funding match, point priority, project administration services, and engineering services were the identified practices most frequently reported by states that were successful in providing Safe Routes to School funding to low-income communities. 

  • The study includes a comprehensive table of practices used by states to provide more equitable Safe Routes to School funding and at what stage of the process such practices occur.


  • In order to determine state practices that facilitate more equitable awards of Safe Routes to School funding in vulnerable communities, researchers: collected SRTS award data from the National Center for Safe Routes to School Project List for 2005-2015, sent online surveys to individual state-level respondents, conducted follow-up interviews with those state coordinators who responded to the survey, and reviewed state Safe Routes to School program and legislative websites and reports. In the end, 28 states responded to the survey and 11 participated in follow-up interviews.

Cradock, A., Barrett, J., Wei, E., Otis, B., and Pipito A. Examining Practices that Promote Access to Safe Routes to School Programs in Vulnerable Communities. Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA; January 2017. Available at https://hsph.me/prc-srts-practices.