Youth engagement, partnership, empowerment

Youth support for policy change, program development and community planning is powerful and can be the catalyst to success: When kids speak up, adults listen.


Youth-led campaigns, such as the #YouthPass4All campaign in Portland have a big impact and show how the voice of youth helps to change policies that affect them. OPAL Environmental Justice’s Youth Environmental Justice Alliance (YEJA) develops low-income youth and youth of color leaders through political education, campaign organizing, and skill-building to address issues of Environmental Justice. The leadership program creates a space for marginalized youth to take action on the issues that directly impact them and their communities.

Youth Pass provides a free transit pass to high school students in lieu of yellow bus service, but of course an all-access transit pass does so much more for high schoolers — from extracurricular activities to life-supporting jobs. Currently, Youth Pass only serves Portland Public Schools high school students; YEJA’s report on the need for Youth Pass programs in all of Portland features new data on student transportation needs and transit barriers in East Portland, and startling statistics including:

  • 41% of the students at David Douglas High School have missed class due to missing the school bus and not having other transportation.
  • 70% of students at Parkrose said having a free transit pass would make it easier for them to attend school.

Over the summer, OPAL ran a youth training program, Serve the People, with robust curriculum on environmental justice, transit justice and a variety of other topics relevant to training emerging youth leaders to lead their peers when they head back to school.

As we all head back into the school year, it will serve us well to consider ways to incorporate youth perspectives, voices, and leadership into our work. Below are more opportunities coming up — learn more and get plugged in.

August 17 – Participate in the #MoveEquity tweetchat to discuss youth organizing and leadership in low-income communities and communities of color, and engaging youth in getting to school safely.
Wednesday, August 17, 2016 – 10:00-11:00am PT

August 24 – Join the National Partnership’s webinar and learn about youth engagement at the local, regional and state level, how kids of all ages are influencing their community in positive ways, and how your community can engage youth, participate in meaningful dialog, and share ideas with decision makers and community members to make a difference for safety in their community.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016 – 10:00-11:00am PT
More information and registration

SW Washington: Safe Routes to School Webinar & Workshop

Many children lack safe places to bike or walk. We believe that every child deserves to safely walk and bike to school. Let us help you create more Safe Routes to School for children in your community. When you do, you’ll help everyone in your community become safer, healthier, and more productive!

Webinar: Safe Routes to School and Bikeability
December 15, 2015 @ 10:00am-11:30am

This webinar will focus on infrastructure improvements that address bicycle safety needs of children traveling to school and how those improvements can be a part of a Safe Routes to School project. It will start with a brief summary of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Safe Routes to School Program, and plans for the next “call for projects” in early 2016. National and local best practice examples will be shared, including the details of a recently completed Safe Routes to School project in Walla Walla County. Free. Register here.

Register Now: SW Washington Safe Routes to School Workshop
January 6, 2016 @ 1:30pm-4:30pm

Request for Proposals for WSDOT Safe Routes to School grants will be released in early 2016. Proposals must be received from a public agency in WA such as a school district, school, city, county, or public health agency.

Join us on Wednesday, January 6, 2016, to talk about the basics and the benefits of Safe Routes to School, and learn the details of WSDOT grants for bike, pedestrian, and Safe Routes to School engineering projects, including amount of funding available and project application requirements.There will also be an opportunity to work in groups with your local partners to help support your successful project.

Event Details
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Time: 1:30pm-4:30pm
Location: Kaiser Permanente Salmon Creek Medical Office
Registration: The event is free but registration is required. Register here.

You will benefit greatly during the workshop if you identify in advance what the engineering “problem” is that you seek to solve, and bring the appropriate partners to the table. Efforts to provide safe walking and biking facilities work best when coordinated partnerships are used to support them. What does that mean? If you’re a school representative, talk to your city’s public works or planning director; if you’re a public health or law enforcement official, find out who at your school or city is involved, and bring your expertise to the table. If you’re a community member or parent, talk with your school’s principal or a health or physical education teacher. Safe Routes to School partnerships usually include teachers, school administrators, transportation professionals, law enforcement, and public health professionals, but may include a wider variety of representatives.

Who should attend this free workshop? Teams of representatives from across Southwest Washington, including city and county transportation, health, and safety staff; school district administration; parents and community members.

Space is limited, please register today.

Webinar June 11: Health & Transportation Partners Working to Improve Pedestrian Safety in OR

Safe States Pedestrian Injury Prevention Training and Mini-Grant Opportunity 

kids crossing street


Free IBPI Webinar
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Part 1: 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM PST
Part 2: 1:00 PM –  2:30 PM PST

Join health and transportation partners working in Oregon and learn a variety of ways to improve pedestrian safety in your neighborhood, town or city. Explore the links between health and transportation, the best practices being used to increase the numbers of individuals using active transportation, and how to keep all road users safer. These methods need not necessarily be expensive engineering solutions, but can encompass education, enforcement and some simple fixes.

Read more and register here.

Hey Washington! Need money for Safe Routes to School?


Join the WA Safe Routes to School Action Network on Friday, April 4, for a conference call about funding school walk and bike route improvements in your community!

Would more children walk or bike to schools in your district if only you could find funding to fix a sidewalk, intersection, or bike path? Could your school district save money on short-distance busing if only there were resources to improve a hazardous crossing near school?

Join this SRTS conference call and learn about two grant funding sources for infrastructure improvements in Washington.

DATE:   Friday, April 4, 2014
TIME:    11:00 am – 12:00 pm


RSVP to join the call, and the School Action Network will send you call access information and a timely reminder.

Upcoming webinars

Join the conversation!

3/13: PBIC hosts Free Webinar on Pedestrian Safety and the Highway Safety Improvement Program. Register here.

3/20: Safe Routes to School National Partnership hosts Build Your Own School District Policy to Advance Safe Routes to School. Register here.

3/20: America Walks hosts Keeping Pedestrians Safe in Urban and Suburban Settings. Register here.

Hosting a webinar? Email Kari and let her help spread the word.

Washington schools: Call for Projects – Safe Routes to School Funding

WSDOT Ped & Bike and Safe Routes to School grant program is open.

The purpose of the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program is to increase the number of children walking and biking to school safely. All projects must be within two-miles of primary, middle or high school (K-12).

There will be a webinar on March 3. Applications are due in May.

Find out more.

Webinar on 12/12: Tacoma’s Path to STAR Certification


Interested in hearing more about STAR communities from a peer community that has now successfully completed the process?

STAR Communities: Sustainability Tools for Assessing & Rating Communities

Thursday, December 12th from 11am-noon PST Kristin Lynett of the City of Tacoma, WA, will discuss the steps she took to get the city prepared to become the first community certified in the STAR Community Rating System. To register for the webinar, click here. This program will be recorded and shared on STAR Communities’ website for those unable to attend in person.