A group of children have lunch in the school cafeteria.
Image by USDA

Supporting students and finding long-term solutions to transportation challenges

Maggi Szpak at the Newfield School Garden

Engaging in school-related activities and events leads to greater levels of success

Two girls coloring at a table in school
Image by Mike Liu

Helping ensure all students and their families have the rides they need to be successful

Camp School Days 2013
Image by Holly Boname

Creating change within the school culture so that transportation is a school concern

Transportation and School Success

Students who engage in school-related activities and events experience greater levels of success in school. Yet, many students and their families/caregivers lack transportation to after-school events, activities and school meetings. The School Success Transportation Coalition, a collaborative project, is creating a more inclusive school environment by helping ensure all students and their families have the rides they need to be successful.

Partnering with Ithaca City School District

The School Success Transportation Coalition (School Success) started in 2008 by coordinator, Carrie Kerr, a retired teacher who learned firsthand about this obstacle to student success in our school district and took it upon herself to do something about it.

Way2Go joined School Success in 2009 to work with the Ithaca City School District, community members, and transportation service providers to find both individual support for students and long-term solutions to transportation challenges.

Transportation liaisons within the school are the lifeblood of the program. Located in every school in the Ithaca district, liaisons act as point people and problem solvers, helping students find rides, and creating greater awareness of student needs and supportive opportunities such as ridesharing.

The Ithaca School District highlights a range of transportation solutions, including the Red School Ride program. Red School Rides provides rides for families and caregivers to school events and meetings by connecting volunteer drivers to families who need a ride.

Way2Go supports these efforts by recruiting, training, and supporting school transportation liaisons, assisting with problem solving, and making connections to service providers and other community wide transportation initiatives.

What Makes This Unique and Successful?

  • We take advantage of new developments in our transportation infrastructure. For example, when Lime Bikes was launched in 2018, we were able to interface with the service provider to make sure students were included in the planning. We facilitated a training through Bike Walk Tompkins so that teachers and administrators could sign up qualifying students for Lime access-low-income program that provides a deep discount on rides.
  • Our focus on a systems approach has meant that we are developing long-term solutions that are becoming part of the school culture and transportation systems. For example, presentations on ridesharing for sports team participants are now made at the start of each semester. School coaches are ready for us and enthusiastic about the value of making sure all students have the rides they need to participate.
  • The long-term commitment to this program by key players over ten years, including its founder Carrie Kerr, has allowed relationships to build and the culture to shift within our community. Unlike many grant funded programs that often disappear when the funding dries up, this project has a long-term commitment to creating change within the school culture.

Results in 2018, by the numbers:

  • 12 liaisons, 1 in each school in the District, were actively involved in trouble-shooting and advocating for student rides.
  • From April-December 2018 there were 694 Lime Bike rides from surrounding neighborhoods to the High School and 706 rides from the High School to those neighborhoods.
  • In the 2018 Fall semester alone, 79 semester TCAT passes and 26 one day TCAT passes were provided for free to students to assist their participation in after school clubs, sports activities, play rehearsal, tutoring, work study and getting to and from the public library.
  • The Administration approved a “You Helped” card which is given out to rideshare coordinators and other parents/caregivers who go above and beyond helping students meet their transportation needs. The card gives 10 free admissions to any Ithaca district event.

Read more School Success Transportation Coalition results

Last updated October 4, 2019