Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Idle-free School Zones: Reducing School Bus Emissions

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

November 16, 2006





In some parts of New York City, 25% of school-age children have asthma, more than twice the national rate.

When students have difficulty breathing, they cannot focus on their schoolwork and often miss class time for visits to the school nurse. Vehicle exhaust is a major trigger of asthma problems. The Asthma Free School Zone program raises awareness of the importance of clean air around schools to reduce students’ exposure to asthma triggers.

This grant to the New York City-based Real World Foundation’s Asthma Free School Zone program supported Idle-Free School Zones, an initiative that targeted environmental factors linked to asthma by focusing on vehicle exhaust.

The project used a common-sense idea of empowering school crossing guards to remind school bus, diesel delivery truck, and automobile drivers to turn off their engines when idling near schools. This small but important effort could significantly reduce emissions that contribute to high rates of asthma in urban settings.

Major project activities included: (1) creation and delivery of a training program to raise the awareness of school crossing guards about engine idling and relevant New York laws; and (2) collaboration of school crossing guards with teams of parents, teachers, and community members who work together to stop unnecessary idling in their neighborhoods. The targeted schools serve an estimated 32,000 elementary school children and 800 staff members. A conservative estimate of 50,000 community members will benefit from improved air quality in neighborhoods where they live and/or work.

Since 2002, the Real World Foundation’s Asthma Free School Zone program has been dedicated to improving the health of New York City communities by making school neighborhoods safer and healthier.