Topic Resources

Tools Used
Partners
  •  Local schools
Results
  • Annual reductions of 500 miles travelled per family and half a million miles travelled overall, at a public cost of $0.05/mile of reduced travel/person

Denver’s Schoolpool

Schoolpool is a dynamic program that gets students to and from school in a safer, more social and environmentally sustainable fashion,using carpools, transit and finding buddies for walking and cycling. Parents and guardians can locate nearby families or search for them along their child’s route to school. The program serves 150 campuses in the Denver region, and more than 19,000 families. 

Background

Note: To minimize site maintenance costs, all case studies on this site are written in the past tense, even if they are ongoing as is the case with this particular program.

Schoolpool operates under the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) Way to Go program.

Getting Informed

Motivators  

  • While Schoolpool worked with all types of campuses the Way to Go team found that schools without bus service had the most to gain. That said, school administrators were always eager to reduce the number of cars in pick-up and drop-off lines, which made mornings and afternoons move a bit more seamlessly.
  • When families used Schoolpool, they could share the responsibilities and costs of transporting students among their school community.When parents were ill, or running late from work, they could rely on a network of support. Parents could also pass along  to their children the values of energy conservation, clean air and community-mindedness.

Barriers

  • Privacy was the primary concern among both parents and school administrators. 

Delivering the Program

Schoolpool targeted school administrators and parents or guardians. In 2017, the program had one Outreach Specialist that met with schools, explained the benefits and provided them with access to other campus families via the secure, online platform MyWaytoGo.org. Word of mouth  brought a number of schools on board as well. 

The program equipped participating schools with collateral, sales training and great selling points such as help for families and peace of mind with a secure online platform. However, once schools were signed up, Schoolpool actually had very little interaction with students and families. Because of the inherent value of carpooling to and from school, families were attracted to it. 

Schoolpool made it easy for participating families to find other nearby participating families. Once schools elected to participate, they had access to a map of other families on the same campus. Schoolpool continued to explore strategies that made carpooling an easy option, including ways for families with students in the same after-school activities (sports, theater, band, etc.) to coordinate evening or seasonal carpool options. 

The program set yearly targets for new schools and families enrolled.

Overcoming Barriers

Privacy was the primary concern among both parents and school administrators. To eliminate this barrier, Schoolpool gave campuses the opportunity to be 'opt-in', so that parents had to approve their children's participation in the program before their addresses and contact information were available to other families. (Overcoming Specific Barriers)

Measuring Achievements

The number of schools and families in carpools was tracked on an ongoing basis. Each year, the program cleared its database and started fresh with “active families.” Lists of these families were provided by the campuses.

These numbers were triangulated periodically using a survey of participating families.

Results

 Individual Participants

The yearly cumulative VMT saved through Schoolpool has grown each year to 9,511,381 per year. That’s an average reduction of 500 VMT per family per year, at a public cost of $0.05/mile of reduced travel.

On average, four out of five families that used Schoolpool participated in a carpool five mornings a week.

Schoolpool also helped introduce alternative commute options to families that usually drove to school. This helped alleviate the stress on parents who may be suddenly unable to drive – and help maintain reliable access to before- or after-school programs. One parent was especially grateful for access to Schoolpool’s maps and database when she found herself unable to drive after a car accident: “I used the map provided by Schoolpool to find another family nearby. It turned out my son was in the same class as their daughter. It was a relief for me to know my son could get to and from school every day, and they both enjoyed a bit more social time before class began.”

Overall  Impacts

Population size of the program’s audience: 19,000 families across 150 campuses

Between 2011 and 2017, cumulative VMT saved through Schoolpool grew from 6,596,321 to 9,511,381, an average saving of around half a million miles travelled a year at a public cost of $0.05/mile of reduced travel/person.

Contacts

Winna MacLaren
Public Relations Coordinator | Communications and Marketing
Denver Regional Council of Governments
Direct: 303-480-6743 | Fax: 303-480-6790 | Email: wmaclaren@drcog.org

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