School transportation can be a fairly costly part of school budgets, especially when it comes to improvements or upgrades. The federal government and private foundations provide funding to help offset the costs of this essential service for school districts. Money is available to improve and replace bus fleets, to assist with field trip costs and to provide local transportation infrastructure that helps kids get to class in the morning.
Safe Routes to School Grant
The Safe Routes to School program is a project of the Federal government intended to enhance school transportation by providing funding for infrastructure and education. Specifically, the program funds improvements to sidewalks and crosswalks and provides money for other pedestrian initiatives that make it easier for students to walk and bike to school. These grants are administered through state departments of transportation, each equipped with a Safe Routes to School Coordinator who targets funding to state priorities. Last year, the program apportioned $180 million in funding to state departments, which awarded them to local governments and state agencies.
EPA Clean School Bus Grant
The Environmental Protection Agency has developed a program to help reduce the carbon emissions created by school transportation by providing funding for equipment upgrades. The program offers grant opportunities to help pay for efficiency improvements to existing bus fleets, cleaner fuel choices and vehicle replacement. In 2008, the funding provided through the clean diesel program nationwide totaled $49.2 million. In 2006, many of these funds went to state departments of transportation and local school districts.
Big Yellow School Bus Grants
Several states, including Iowa, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, provide grant funding to offset the transportation costs associated with field trips. These programs, known as Big Yellow School Bus Grants, are specifically targeted to finance field trips to cultural and artistic locations like museums and galleries. In 2008, this program funded field trips for more than 57,000 Massachusetts students. These grants were often provided in awards of $200 and were primarily directed to districts with over 50 precent low-income students.