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Operation Lifesaver Inc., (OLI) in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), announced this week the award of $200,525 in grants to 15 state Operation Lifesaver programs to be used for grade crossing and trespass prevention public education programs.
OLI also announced the award of the first Innovative Rail Safety Grant to New York Operation Lifesaver, which will receive $60,000 to fund a targeted, data-driven and multifaceted trespass prevention campaign in the state.
Individual state grant awards range from $4,500 to $20,000. The FRA funds for public education campaigns will be awarded to Operation Lifesaver programs in California, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee. North Carolina will receive partial funding for its grant project from the FRA.
To supplement the FRA awards, $45,000 in funding from the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh will go toward Operation Lifesaver state grant projects in three additional states — Arizona, Texas and Washington, OLI officials said in a press release.
OLI Executive Director Rachel Maleh said the organization's partnership with the FRA and Posner Foundation will help state programs reach more people with safety messages in states where the highest number of grade crossing and trespassing incidents occur.
"These grant awards will support strategic rail safety education efforts in 18 states, with a goal to further support Operation Lifesaver's mission of eliminating collisions, injuries and deaths at crossings and along rail property," Maleh said.
The state grants were awarded through a competitive process.
Meanwhile, the Innovative Rail Safety Grant award is a new partnership between OLI and the FRA, Maleh said.
The grant will fund a short animated educational video in English and Spanish; geo-fencing advertising targeting individuals involved in trespassing at high-incident locations; social media campaigns; print ads at train stations, rest areas and Department of Motor Vehicle locations; and safety presentations to schools and community groups in targeted areas.
The goal of the grant, which was awarded through a competitive process, "is to encourage new ways to address these preventable rail-related crossing and trespass incidents," said James Payne, staff director of the FRA Grade Crossing Safety and Trespass Prevention Program Division.