El Monte Union High School District (EMUHSD) celebrated a milestone in its commitment to clean mobility awareness with a dynamic ribbon-cutting ceremony on Feb. 23, which marked the completion of an eye-catching 80-foot-long mural, visible to tens of thousands of commuters on the 60 freeway, and electric vehicle (EV) car wraps that aim to encourage the use of clean transportation. The projects marked the culmination of the District’s Clean Mobility in Schools Pilot Project.

Students, administrators, project partners, parents, and representatives of local elected officials were also treated to a screening of the District’s new “Clean Energy Careers” animation created by renowned artist Lalo Alcaraz. The new animation aims to inspire the next generation of students to explore career opportunities that can positively impact air quality.

“At the beginning of this project, we met with students to get a better understanding of what is important to them and how we can educate the community about clean mobility and wow did they really blow our minds with the type of answers they were providing,” Alcaraz said during the ceremony. “From that meeting on, we took what we learned from them to create two animations, which feature the voices of El Monte Union students and administrators, as well as this beautiful mural, and the car wrap designs.”

The District also partnered with Alcaraz and his team at Pocho Villa Productions to create the animated short, “Taking a Healthy Ride on the Green Side,” which focuses on how choosing green transportation options to get to school can improve community health.

“This project to electrify El Monte Union’s vehicle fleet and promote clean energy has been a true team effort,” EMUHSD Facility and Energy Manager Lena Luna said. “I am extremely proud of our transportation department, our bus drivers, and our students who have fully embraced this transition. Sustainability has been something our District has always advocated for, and we thank the California Air Resources Board for backing us every step of the way.”

In 2020, El Monte Union was awarded a $9.8 million grant by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to fund a cluster of Clean Mobility measures that promote the use of zero-emission vehicles and clean transportation options for students, parents, and staff, while also developing innovative career technical education modules on clean energy careers for students.

The Clean Mobility in Schools Pilot Project transformed mobility for EMUHSD by adding 11 electric school buses to the fleet, 11 all electric utility maintenance carts, six electric ride share vehicles, and charging infrastructure, enabling the District to serve more students and enhance safety through the development of School Mobility and Active Transportation Plans.

“Through the generous support from CARB and California Climate Investments, El Monte Union is helping to lower the harmful emissions that affect our community and our climate,” EMUHSD Board President Ricardo Padilla said during the ribbon-cutting event. “There is no question that educating the next generation of students on clean initiatives, encouraging active transportation options, and preparing them to work in a green economy is a critical part of fostering a legacy of environmental stewardship.”
The Clean Mobility in Schools Pilot Project is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities. For more information, visit emuhsdmobility.com.

“As we celebrate the completion of our wonderful Clean Mobility in Schools Pilot Project, I cannot overstate how incredible the impact of this initiative has been for our students and community,” EMUHSD Superintendent Dr. Edward Zuniga said. “I want to thank CARB, our project partners in the private sector, Mr. Alcaraz, and our outstanding staff for working together to allow our District to be a part of this important project. By reducing emissions from transportation, we are contributing to cleaner air and a healthier environment for all the residents of our amazing community.” (Story and Photo by VMA Communications)