AAA announces $200,000+ donation as Detroit Public Schools, Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative unveil coordinated Safe Routes to School strategy

From the door of the home to school, in school, and back home, focus is on prevention, intervention, enforcement and re-entry

AAA of Michigan on Thursday presented a check for more than $200,000 to Detroit Public Schools to keep students safe while traveling to and from school, as DPS and a host of agencies unveiled a comprehensive Safe Routes to School strategy focused on keeping all students safe through coordinated Safe Zones, volunteer vehicle patrols, prioritized street light replacement, blight removal around student walking routes, signage, Eyes & Ears Patrols, Student Code of Conduct/Dress Code enforcement and positive behavior intervention.

AAA/The Auto Club Group President and CEO Chuck Podowski announced the donation, which further expands a strong partnership between AAA and DPS, alongside DPS Emergency Manager Jack Martin, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, DPS Police Chief Stacy Brackens, President of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation Glenda Price, representatives from the Skillman and Kellogg foundations, and other local and state dignitaries who have all taken ownership in expanding the Safe Routes to School program city-wide.

The Safe Routes to School effort targets prevention, intervention, enforcement and re-entry. It directly supports the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. As a city-wide effort, Safe Routes has garnered support from several independent patrol groups, parent ambassadors, community leaders, faith-based organizations, the Detroit Police Department and Michigan State Police, and other city departments including the Detroit Public Lighting Department, D-DOT Transit, Animal Control, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, Wayne State Safety Authority and others.

District officials accepted the donation at the Brightmoor Community Center – located directly across from Gompers Elementary-Middle School – following a breakfast event and public presentation on extended efforts to ensure the safety and security of children and their families as they walk to and from schools and bus stops. Student safety patrollers from Gompers also attended the breakfast and press conference. Gompers is one of many DPS Safety Patrol programs supported by AAA.

In 2013, AAA donated $56,000 in support of Safe Routes to assist with patrols in 14 key school zones and an additional 14 school zones during the first quarter of 2014. With the expanded model of the Safe Routes program, the City of Detroit is defined by 34 zones. Detroit Public Schools’ 97 school campuses, Charter Schools and Independent Schools are included in the expanded model to ensure student safety city-wide.

With this year’s donation, AAA has agreed to fund expanded Safe Routes and Safe Zones for the next three years with a $70,450 annual contribution to Detroit Public Schools. The grant total is $211,350, with the first contribution made on October 16. Subsequent contributions will be made in the fiscal years 2015 and 2016.

The new grant will fund the following:

  • More than 10 new volunteer vehicle patrols;
  • Identification badges and reflective vests to make volunteers easily identifiable;
  • Two-way radios and other technology equipment;
  • Vehicle patrol gas expenses;
  • Background checks for citizen patrol volunteers;
  • Funding for staff members to manage the program and more.

This multi-year contribution reinforces the Auto Club Group’s commitment to traffic safety, education and community outreach; and supports the mission of the AAA School Safety Patrol program.

“Student safety, both in and out of school, is fundamental to educational achievement,” said Martin. “Our goal is to effectively engage all DPS stakeholders, including civic, faith, grassroots, labor, businesses and foundations in creating safe environments for our students. We can’t say thank you enough to our community partners, such as AAA, Kellogg, Skillman and others who continue to support strategic initiatives to help improve our students’ safety. I would also encourage others to support this extremely critical effort.”

The expanded Safe Routes Program offers:

  • More Safe Routes and Safe Zones
  • Volunteer Vehicle Patrols scouting key zones
  • Street light replacement (LED) and enhancements
  • Blight removal around student walking routes
  • Bus, Community and Faculty Eyes & Ears
  • Visible Safe Routes Signage
  • Neighborhood Engagement and Mobilization
  • School Enforcement Code of Conduct and Dress Code
  • Positive Behavior Intervention & Support (PBIS) and Michigan’s Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative (MiBLSi)

AAA’s commitment to DPS dates back to 1919 when the first AAA School Safety Patrol was established at Detroit’s Alger Elementary School. Today, AAA sponsors nearly 33,000 safety patrollers in 1,076 schools statewide, including Gompers Elementary-Middle School.

“AAA is proud to expand its ongoing support of the Safe Routes to School program and join forces with the organizations and individuals who are committed to this program’s success,” said Podowski. “Providing students a safe route to and from school is an important and basic part of giving each child the opportunity to achieve a good education.”

AAA’s 2013 donation was the first corporate donation received in response to the District’s “call to action” for support of the expansion of its citizen volunteer patrol programs to increase Safe Routes for Detroit children and their families going to and from school.

DPS is seeking more volunteers to assist with patrols district-wide. The volunteer patrol groups, with support from local law enforcement officers on a per school basis, are on duty before and after class, providing students greater safety and security, and allowing them to focus more on academics. Volunteers who are interested in becoming the Eyes and Ears for a safer DPS should call 313-240-4377.

About AAA Michigan
AAA Michigan has been active in traffic safety since its founding nearly a century ago, with activities including teen driving safety and road safety improvement programs. It is part of The Auto Club Group (ACG), the second largest AAA club in North America.  ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 8.9 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories, including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana.  ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 53 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.

About Detroit Public Schools
Detroit Public Schools is creating Neighborhood-Centered, Quality Schools at 97 campuses with a mission to provide a comprehensive educational experience that is high-quality, challenging and inspires all students to make a positive contribution to society. DPS offers a wide variety of educational advantages to students and parents including Individualized Learning Maps for all students. New this year, arts/music and sports leagues for boys and girls are being offered at every elementary/middle school. Prekindergarten offerings have been expanded to 70 schools across the district for all qualified 4-year-olds. Twenty-one schools are now open as Community Schools, offering extended hours and services. Students in grades 8-12 enjoy take-home Netbooks and students in grades 6 and up have access to Netbooks in school. An outstanding Fine Arts program with instrumental music, vocal music and dance is also offered. Ongoing advantages include eight parent resource centers, Parent University and additional parenting programs, enhanced safety initiatives, a district-wide Customer Service focus, nine Detroit Rising College Preparatory Schools and DPS-authorized charter schools led by educators with proven track records of raising achievement. In 2014, DPS graduates earned $138 million in grants and scholarships. To learn more about Detroit Public Schools, visit www.detroitk12.org or call 313-240-4DPS.

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