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Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Pat Quinn joined Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials to welcome hundreds of newly-hired workers to the Safe Passage program at a rally today. The latest expansion to Safe Passage, a student safety program that has grown significantly under Mayor Emanuel, was made possible by a $10 million investment from Governor Quinn and the State of Illinois. This investment, on top of an additional investment made by Mayor Emanuel, will add nearly 700 workers at 133 schools to protect student safety on the walk to and from school.
"The 700 new Safe Passage workers are joining a tremendous team of residents who help ensure our children can come school each day ready to learn, and focused on their studies, not their safety," said Mayor Emanuel. "I want to thank the Governor for helping expand this important program for our children and families because Safe Passage is about more than a route to school, it is about a route to college, a career and the world-class education they deserve."
"Nothing is more important than ensuring our students get to school safely each and every day," Governor Quinn said. "Our new Safe Passage workers will join the many others helping protect our children and give them the opportunity for a bright, positive future so that they can succeed and go onto college, career and beyond."
Combined with other investments the City is making, there will be 40 new Safe Passage routes this school year, up from 93 routes last year, and tripling the number of routes since the Mayor took office in 2011. More than 69,000 students will be served under the overall expansion.
The Safe Haven program, a partnership between CPS and the Faith Community, is also expanding to an additional 40 after-school sites as part of Governor Quinn and the State of Illinois' commitment. The Safe Haven program, housed in the Office of Faith Based Initiatives of CPS, provides a "safe haven" for students during out of school time. The program is both a reliable and no-cost alternative place for students and parents.
"Ensuring that every child has access to a safe and nurturing learning environment is our top priority, which is why we continue to invest in our successful Safe Passage program," said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. "It is with the dedication of our Safe Passage workers that we are able to deepen engagement in communities across the city and remove safety barriers that could keep students from the classroom where they belong."
Safe passage workers support students by not only being an extra set of eyes and ears to proactively identify and report safety risks, but also by building relationships with students and if necessary, de-escalating situations to prevent serious incidents from happening in the first place.
The District collaborates with 23 various community organizations, known as "Safe Passage vendors," to hire residents from the community to staff routes that ensure students get to and from school safely. The success of the program is credited to the positive engagement of Safe Passage workers with the students they serve.
Safe Passage has been successfully keeping Chicago school children safe as they travel to and from specific schools since its inception in 2009. Last year, the Safe Passage program doubled to provide 53 new routes to accommodate nearly 12,000 students transitioning to welcoming schools. Following this transition, there had been no major incidents involving students on Safe Passage routes near schools during the program's operational hours.
Chicago Public Schools serves 400,000 students in 664 schools. It is the nation's third-largest school district.