CLEVELAND--August 9, 2019--What if church vans were used during the week to transport nearby residents to work in job hubs that are difficult or impossible to get to by public transit? What if a public transit agency offered an on-demand shuttle service for workers to get to jobs in areas where traditional transit service doesn't meet the need? What if a mobility company teamed up with a staffing agency to provide a service for its applicants to connect to work in another county?
As winners of The Paradox Prize, these ideas will soon be tested in Northeast Ohio.
The Fund for Our Economic Future, along with its partners the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, The Lozick Family Foundation, and DriveOhio, have granted total awards of $191,000 to the first three winners of The Paradox Prize, an open call for ideas to improve connections of people to jobs.
First round awardees are:
- Manufacturing Works ($100,000), in conjunction with the Cleveland Clergy Coalition and the American Association of Clergy and Employers, will connect church-based neighborhood hubs in Lee-Harvard and Glenville in Cleveland to job hubs in Strongsville and Solon, using church vans that typically sit idle throughout the week;
- Akron METRO ($75,000), in conjunction with ConxusNEO, will test its FlexRide program, a door-to-door, on-demand service connecting workers to job hubs in northern Summit County that promises to save employers thousands of dollars in reduced turnover and lost down-time, while opening up new job possibilities; and
- SHARE ($16,000), will work with Express Employment Professionals to provide ride-sharing service for job seekers from East Cleveland, Euclid and Glenville to the Mentor/Painesville job hub.
"These three awards are a great start for our mobility solutions portfolio and have significant potential to connect people to actual jobs," said Fund Vice President Bethia Burke. "Together, these experiments promise to forge connections between at least five different neighborhoods and four different job hubs, represent different kinds of solution providers, and test both pre-planned and on-demand routes."
Through The Paradox Prize, the funders will award up to $1 million over the next three years to support up to 15 pilots that test practical solutions to address The Transportation Paradox of "no car, no job; no job, no car." The Fund announced Friday that Cuyahoga County has pledged an investment in The Paradox Prize, pending Board of Control approval.
Theodore Carter, Cuyahoga County's chief economic development and business officer and leader of job access initiatives for the Fund, said it is important for the County to join this effort because of the role transit and mobility play in economic development. "As a region that has seen some of the sharpest declines in job access in the country, we need to be thinking about an array of mobility solutions that can serve our residents and improve the bottom line for our businesses," he said.
The inaugural round of The Paradox Prize exceeded the funders' expectations, with more than 50 proposals submitted from six different counties, representing nearly a dozen different types of solutions, including ride-sharing, bike sharing, technology-based solutions, ride-hailing, multi-modal, and more.
"We are thrilled to be working with the winning organizations to bring their ideas to life and improve the mobility of Northeast Ohio residents," said Dominic Mathew, urban and regional planner for mobility innovations at the Fund. "At the same time, we are seeing a strong portfolio of ideas develop for us to consider in future rounds."
There will be two more rounds of winners announced in 2019. Applications for the second round will close at 11:59 p.m. on September 9. Please go to paradoxprize.com for more details and to submit your idea today!