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Operation Lifesaver, Inc. Awards $220,000 for Rail Safety Public Awareness Campaigns in 11 States

WASHINGTON, DC, March 28, 2024 – Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh today announced $220,000 in competitive rail safety awareness grants to Operation Lifesaver programs in 11 states. The FRA provided $175,000 of the total funding.

The FRA-funded grants will be awarded to Operation Lifesaver organizations in CaliforniaConnecticut, IllinoisIndianaMontanaNew YorkOhioTennessee and Washington. Funding from the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh will fund Operation Lifesaver grant projects in Missouri and South Carolina and supplement the Connecticut grant project. The grants will fund a variety of crossing safety and trespass prevention public education projects, which also will be conducted in conjunction with the nonprofit safety group’s observance of See Tracks? Think Train!® Week, September 23-29, 2024.

“FRA wholeheartedly supports the lifesaving work of Operation Lifesaver, Inc. as grade crossing and trespass incidents still occur with alarming frequency,” said James Payne, Staff Director of the FRA Grade Crossing and Trespasser Outreach Division. “These competitive grants provide critical funding to OLI state organizations whose efforts effectively combat the problem of preventable railway deaths and injuries.”

Henry Posner III, Chairman of the Posner Foundation and the Iowa Interstate Railroad, added, “While railroads are a safe industry with a deep safety culture, raising public awareness of the importance of grade crossing safety and trespass prevention remains a critical challenge. OLI’s mission of rail safety education across the nation directly addresses these. We are proud to be for the sixth year in a row not just a funder but an enthusiastic supporter of OLI.”

OLI Executive Director Rachel Maleh said, “We are delighted to announce the recipients of this year’s grants, which showcase innovative strategies in promoting rail safety education. Congratulations to the winning states for their dedication and creativity in spreading this crucial message. We are deeply appreciative of our enduring collaborations with the Federal Railroad Administration and the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh, whose support makes these outreach initiatives possible nationwide.”

Maleh continued, “Everyone can do something to make their communities safer. We urge you to engage with OLI on social media, schedule a complimentary rail safety presentation, and explore oli.org for additional resources. Together, we can #STOPTrackTragedies and save lives.”

Projects funded by the FRA grants include:

  • California Operation Lifesaver will run a Geofencing and digital trespass awareness ad campaign during September, CA Rail Safety Month and See Tracks? Think Train!® Week to reach at-risk populations in the state’s top 15 counties for trespass and near-miss incidents.
  • Connecticut Operation Lifesaver’s project involves rail safety education messaging using streaming video, website display ads, social media and podcasts targeting high rail traffic areas starting in August and ending at the end of September to include See Tracks? Think Train!® Week.
  • Illinois Operation Lifesaver’s grade crossing safety and trespass prevention education campaign from July through September will encompass TV commercials, streaming videos, and digital display ads as well as community events and in-person training sessions targeting law enforcement, emergency dispatchers, schools and professional drivers in the Chicagoland, Springfield, and East St. Louis areas.
  • Indiana Operation Lifesaver’s project targets pedestrians and motorists in the Hammond, Indiana area through digital audio, video, social and Geofencing ads as well as distributing rail safety education messaging materials on college campuses and community events in August and September, including See Tracks? Think Train!® Week. Artificial intelligence will be used to maximize campaign performance and attract social media influencers, expanding reach for the project’s rail safety education message.
  • Montana Operation Lifesaver will create a compelling trespassing safety Public Service Announcement (PSA) featuring Native American individuals with culturally relevant elements, representation and storytelling to enhance awareness and discourage trespassing on railroad property. PSAs will be sent to broadcast outlets throughout the state and used in display, print and YouTube ad campaigns.
  • New York Operation Lifesaver will target audiences in Long Island, combining a rail safety education banner towed by an airplane over the beaches during the summer with a Geofence online campaign during September. The campaign will include a series of crossing safety education events during See Tracks? Think Train!® Week.
  • Ohio Operation Lifesaver will conduct a high-impact rail safety education campaign from July through September targeting the Cleveland metro area across radio, connected TV and on high-traffic local TV websites, featuring endorsements from local sports celebrity Jensen Lewis.
  • Tennessee Operation Lifesaver will run a rail safety education ad campaign targeting males 18-40 with audio, video, social media and Geofencing ads in major metro areas during August and September.
  • Washington Operation Lifesaver’s project involves a four-month campaign encompassing digital advertising geo-targeting areas of the state with the highest trespassing incidents, a Spanish Public Service Announcement (PSA) television campaign targeting bilingual residents in key counties, along with a social media PSA campaign for the period to include See Tracks? Think Train!® Week.

The Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh grant will supplement funding for the Connecticut campaign and fully fund campaigns in the following states:

  • Missouri Operation Lifesaver will run a radio and digital ad campaign targeting drivers and agricultural road users statewide from May through September with an additional campaign in seven counties that account for 70% of railroad crossing incidents across the state.
  • South Carolina Operation Lifesaver’s project focuses on partnering with community area transportation in the city of Charleston to target transit riders, pedestrians and motorists with an ad campaign that will run for a quarter of the year in conjunction with in-person events and safety materials distribution communicating rail education.

The approved grants were awarded through a competitive process, with selection based on criteria such as the defined safety need, the number of highway-rail collisions and trespass incidents in the state and how the proposal leverages federal funds with private partnerships.

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