Press Release | March 30, 2023
RELEASE: World Resources Institute’s Electric School Bus Initiative Announces Two New Research Partnerships in the Areas of Tribal Nations and Indigenous Communities and Disability Rights and Justice

Washington, D.C. (March 30, 2023) — World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Electric School Bus (ESB) Initiative and Equitable Cities are announcing two new research partnerships to explore how the Electric School Bus Initiative and key actors in the electric school bus transition can ensure that the needs of Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities and disabled communities are met, that their rights are guaranteed and that their voices are heard. Both partnerships will produce a co-authored research paper. 

The first research partnership will focus on tribal rights and justice in the electric school bus transition. On this subject, the Electric School Bus Initiative is collaborating with Lepwe, an organization dedicated to building connections between Native and non-native communities through education, engagement and equity. The paper will create a framework for future Electric School Bus Initiative engagement and partnership with Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities by reviewing the unique legal principles, cultural components, and data regarding student transportation in Indian Country and within Native communities. 

Lepwe, which works with clients such as Tribal nations, utilities, project developers, energy companies, investors, fund managers, foundations, non-profits, universities, and federal and state agencies, was founded by Maranda Compton, a nationally-recognized expert in Native American law and policy and a citizen of the Delaware Tribe of Indians. 

For the second research partnership – on disability rights and justice in the electric school bus transition – the Electric School Bus Initiative is partnering with Justice Shorter, an expert on issues at the intersection of race, disability, gender climate and crises, as the lead collaborator and co-author; and Valerie Novack, a disability rights advocate and disability policy researcher, for support on the paper. The research paper will identify the effects the electric school bus transition may have on students with disabilities and the broader disability community, along with recommendations on how to get youth stakeholders and key actors to work together on this issue. 

Shorter is the former National Disaster Protection Advisor for America’s Protection & Advocacy System and has served as a Disability Integration Advisor with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, deploying frequently to disaster areas across America and its territories. She has co-created a celebrated framework for applying Disability Justice approaches to disaster/humanitarian assistance, a Crisis Management method that acknowledges histories of harm, centers intersectionality and prioritizes leadership by Black, Indigenous & People of Color with disabilities. Justice’s work, which now spans across multiple organizations/communities, is multi-versed and lovingly rooted in a long lineage of BIPOC dreamers, artists, facilitators, teachers and advocates. 

Novack is a researcher focusing on negative and discriminatory outcomes of policies and procedures in housing, transportation, public access and emergency management. Novack has partnered with nonprofits, academic institutions and governmental agencies to create common practices and legislative goals that increase safety, access and equity for people with disabilities in the United States. 

Likely to be published toward the end of 2023, the two research papers will help WRI address existing knowledge gaps within the Electric School Bus Initiative and support existing efforts to center equity and inclusion overall. The papers will also provide background on the status of student transportation within communities that the Electric School Bus Initiative hopes to partner with and provide recommendations for the Initiative’s work with school districts, school bus manufacturers, utilities and policymakers. The papers will inform the continued work of the WRI Electric School Bus Initiative to equitably electrify the school bus fleet and be shared publicly for others working in this space to inform their work. 

 About World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Electric School Bus (ESB) Initiative  

World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research organization that turns big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. In partnership with the Bezos Earth Fund, WRI established the Electric School Bus Initiative in late 2020 with the goal of building unstoppable momentum toward electrifying the full U.S. school bus fleet by 2030. This project builds upon and leverages WRI’s experience partnering with cities around the world to advance sustainable transportation systems, including extensive engagements focused on transit electrification and working to advance clean power options.