Case Study: James Elementary

Pilot project to implement an intensive intervention focused on one school and its surrounding neighborhood. The scope of work ranged from direct student programming all the way up to district-wide policy review. 

James Elementary is part of the Kansas City Public Schools and is located in the Indian Mound Neighborhood of the city’s Historic Old Northeast area. This neighborhood school serves a diverse population, including many immigrant communities.

This project was funded by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Lessons learned from the James pilot project were used to obtain a federal grant to expand the program at least ten more sites over the next two years.

Project Components

Community stakeholder committee: Parents, teachers, neighbors, and other nonprofits met regularly to plan, oversee, and support the project.

District policy review: Identify and suggest improvements to district policies that hinder or discourage walking or biking to school.

Student travel plans: Evaluation and mapping of appropriate routes for students to walk or bike to school.

BLAST (Bicycle Lesson and Safety Training): Leveraged a separate federal SRTS grant to bring BikeWalkKC’s mobile bike fleet to James Elementary for classroom bike safety lessons and real-world bike handling skill instruction and practice.

Earn-A-Bike: Hands-on instruction in bicycle maintenance and repair skills. Students who completed the program received their own refurbished bike to take home.

Drop-off/Pick-up analysis: Evaluated and planned improvements to traffic patterns during student drop-off and pick-up periods.

National Bike to School Day: Students applied their new knowledge and skills during James Elementary’s first-ever participation in National Bike to School Day.

James Elementary student profile

  • 404 students, Preschool through 6th Grade
  • 97% free/reduced lunch
  • 66% Hispanic
  • 18% White
  • 8% Black
  • 8% Asian



  • Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City
  • Kansas City Public Schools
  • Mattie Rhoades Center
  • Indian Mound Neighborhood Association
  • Kansas City Police Department



  • 10 students completed Earn a Bike program
  • 60 students participated in James’ first Bike to School Day
  • Policy recommendations for the school, district, and community
  • Increased engagement of surrounding neighborhood with the school and its students
  • James Elementary is now seeking funds for new bike racks to accommodate the increase in kids biking to school.


Pilot project yields federal grant to expand program

The success of the James pilot project allowed to helped BIkeWalkKC win a federal Safe Routes to School grant to expand the program to 10-12 additional schools in the Kansas City Public Schools system. These schools will receive a similar comprehensive program over the next two years.