More than $18 million in grants awarded to help modernize Arizona K-12 transportation system

A for Arizona, an education organization that advocates for policies that increase the ability of Arizona K-12 students to access excellent schools, announced today the awardees of the Arizona Transportation Modernization Grant Program, a first-in-the-nation $20 million initiative to modernize K-12 transportation options and improve access to reliable and safe transportation for students.

The grant program is administered through the A for Arizona Expansion & Innovation Fund and supports locally driven solutions to provide reliable access for more families to the public learning options that best meet each child’s needs.  

“Arizona has a system of public school options envied across the country, but transportation barriers to these quality schools are a reality for far too many Arizona families,” Gov. Doug Ducey. “Arizona kids deserve access to a classroom that meets their needs, and the Arizona Transportation Modernization Grants Program is providing new ways to make this a reality. These solutions will strengthen opportunities for K-12 kids and their families in rural communities and all areas of the state. I thank A for Arizona for their partnership in launching this vital effort.”  

Grant applications were reviewed and assessed by a committee of local and national industry, philanthropic and community leaders. In this first cycle, the committee awarded more than $18 million in awards to fund 24 proposals across Arizona, with 40% of the funds going to proposals representing rural and remote communities.  

Grant awardees will deliver a wide range of school transportation solutions to tackle problems identified at the local level, including providing direct-to-family grants to help assist with transportation needs, high-efficiency vehicles to drive down costs, micro-transit efforts to target key subgroups of students, and more.

Awardees include Arizona Autism Charter Schools, which plans to use its $2 million grant to partner with Kid Commute, an organization dedicated to transporting students with special needs, and launch a transportation system that serves high-needs students traveling from all parts of the Valley.

Bowie Unified School District, a small district in rural Cochise County, aims to use its $550 thousand grant to purchase an electric bus with Wi-Fi and the necessary charging supports to dramatically increase efficiency, reduce gas and maintenance costs, and to safely transport students long distances. BUSD believes it can help increase homework completion rates and put the bus to use in non-school hours to get services to needy families.

“The Arizona Transportation Modernization Grants will accelerate the pace at which the Grand Canyon State can move past an antiquated education transportation system and respond to the student-focused needs of the 21st century,” said Emily Anne Gullickson, founder and CEO of A for Arizona. “It is evident by the competitive cycle and number of high-quality proposals that school leaders, entrepreneurs, and community partners have forward-thinking and innovative solutions ready to address our K-12 transportation needs. This first cycle of awardees will serve as a catalyst to tearing down long-standing access barriers and inform playbooks on how others can deliver multiple transit options to better serve every K-12 student.” 

The Arizona Transportation Modernization Grants Program was established in the state budget passed in June by the Legislature. Supported by a coalition of education reform groups representing the education and business communities, the grant program provides resources to improve access to reliable and safe transportation for students who attend a district school through open enrollment or who attend a public charter school.

Arjun Rondla

Arjun Rondla is an undergraduate studying political science and international trade at Arizona State University and an intern at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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