April 10, 2019 was an exciting, rewarding night in New York City for Amend and our School Area Road Safety Assessments and Improvements (SARSAI) program. On a crisp spring evening, SARSAI received the inaugural World Resources Institute (WRI) Ross Prize for Cities, a $250,000 award focusing on urban transformation.
SARSAI was chosen from among 200 applicants by a world-class jury of experts. On the heels of the program’s December receipt of the Prince Michael of Kent International Road Safety Awards, this was thrilling news and confirmation that the world is recognizing SARSAI’s impact on saving lives.
WRI is a global research organization that spans more than 60 countries. Its mission is to “turn big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity, and human well-being.” The WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities focuses that mission on urban resilience and fostering safe, equitable, healthy cities. The WRI Ross Prize for Cities was created “to elevate examples of urban transformation around the world and inspire others to learn from these changes.” It is sponsored by business leader and philanthropist Stephen M. Ross, chairman and founder of Related Companies and a WRI Board Director.
The award was given at WRI’s Courage to Lead dinner, hosted by CNN’s Sanjay Gupta at the Shed, a vaunted culture space that just opened in the Hudson Yards complex on Manhattan’s West Side.
Accepting the award onstage, Amend Program Director Ayikai Poswayo said: “We accept this award on behalf of the children of the world, and their families, who have sustained road traffic injury or faced road traffic fatalities. To have our program, SARSAI, receive such recognition is really an honor, but, more importantly, an opportunity for us to spotlight the often neglected issue of safe journeys for children and the requirement for us to design our cities with the needs of the most vulnerable at the core.
“We would like to sincerely thank Mr. Stephen Ross for his vision and generosity, the WRI Ross Center for all the hard work putting this together, and our SARSAI donors and partners who have all contributed and continue to contribute on the journey of the development and refinement of the program. We would like to give particular thanks to the FIA Foundation who have supported us right from the start and without whom SARSAI would not be where it is today.”
Ani Dasgupta, Global Director of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities said that “SARSAI’s evidence-driven, incisive approach impressed the jury – they are leveraging limited resources for maximum impact, and the benefits extend beyond school areas. This is about creating livable cities where everyone has a chance to thrive.”
“Cities need to change, and they need to change fast,” said Ross, who, along with sponsoring the prize, also chaired the jury. “What SARSAI shows is that big changes can start small. They are responding to a problem in an innovative way, and it is clearly resonating.”
Indeed, the award has gained SARSAI new coverage around the globe — including recent pieces from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Curbed, Fast Company, CityLab, Metropolis, and others — much of it highlighting the exponential power of our economic, seemingly simple strategic interventions.
With this award and the attention of our peers and the wider world, SARSAI will continue to innovate and improve, as we expand the program to reach and save more lives.