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Colleges, transit agencies partner to advance transportation solutions for students in cities


CSU Los Angeles Campus Transit Hub
Students at California State University, Los Angeles access public transit options. Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice will research the impact of transportation support programs in three cities, including Los Angeles.

The Kresge Foundation announced today a new set of grants aimed at addressing a non-education barrier that often impedes student success: transportation. The five grants awarded by the Kresge Education Program will enable colleges and transit agencies to identify, address and evaluate transportation solutions for students.

The College Board estimates transportation costs account for 18% of student living expenses. These costs can be especially challenging for students from low-income households, many of whom are more likely to attend college near home and commute to school.

“Transportation costs, as well as inadequate transit lines and schedules, limit access to campus and can impede student progress to graduation,” said Bethany Miller, program officer with the Education Program.

Kresge’s Education Program is committed to aligning and strengthening urban higher education ecosystems, which consist of interconnected sectors that together impact student outcomes. These include colleges, government agencies, nonprofit social service providers and transit agencies.

“These new partnerships show incredible promise in their place-based approaches to supporting student success while also increasing ridership on more sustainable and equitable transit options,” Miller said.  “We are eager to learn more about how collaborations between transit agencies and colleges can help more city residents access, persist and succeed in college.”

The five partnerships span ten cities and will explore solutions that reflect the local agencies, transit infrastructure, and student needs.

  • Dillard University will receive a planning grant to lead a partnership of transit agencies and fellow New Orleans-based colleges, Delgado Community College and the University of New Orleans. Partners will identify and provide low-cost interventions for immediate action (such as adjusting bus schedules to better align with student class schedules), as well as long-term transit infrastructure recommendations.
  • Florida Atlantic University (FAU) will receive an implementation and research grant to lead a collaboration with two community colleges and three transit agencies to plan, launch, and evaluate transportation solutions for 6,000 students in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach. With its partners, FAU will begin by engaging a transit firm to customize a mobile app that helps users overcome the fragmented public transit system.
  • Rio Hondo College will receive a planning grant to launch Facilitating Alternative Solutions for Student Transportation (FASST), a consortium of local municipal and transit leaders in Whittier, Calif. who will identify transit gaps, expand and improve transit solutions, and work to connect the college’s growing number of part-time and working students to alternative transit options.
  • St. Petersburg College will receive a planning grant to partner with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and other Florida municipal groups to identify and address the transportation challenges affecting residents’ access and success in college. The partners will develop actionable recommendations to respond to prospective and current student needs in St. Petersburg.
  • Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice will receive an implementation and research grant to evaluate the impact of transportation support programs on community college student outcomes in three cities: Amarillo, Texas, Los Angeles and New York City. The project will involve more than 125,000 students and inform discussions among policymakers, education leaders, and residents about the potential benefits of scaling support programs.

Kresge will convene representatives from each grantee organizations in Detroit in mid-December to launch the cohort. For more on how the five institutions were selected, read this commentary by Bethany Miller: “How Five Institutions Secured Funding to Advance Transportation Solutions for Students.”