My City Rides to roll out scooter campaign
Memphis streets will buzz with about 200 more motor scooters next year -- and maybe thousands in years to come -- if a new jobs campaign works.
Philanthropist Jay Martin has committed $3 million for the first three years to help remove one of the barriers preventing Memphians of limited means from landing and keeping a job: A lack of affordable and reliable transportation.
“I go to Europe a lot,” the founder and head of Juice Plus+ said. “I saw so many scooters I said, ‘Dadgummit we’ve got to try this’.”
So Martin recruited Andy Nix away from PeopleCap consulting firm, where Nix was a principal, to lead a new nonprofit organization called My City Rides.
The organization received its first shipment of 25 scooters Sept. 29, with plans to buy another 175 or so the first year.
“It’s going to be providing affordable transportation to people who are trying to get to and from work,” Martin said at his Juice Plus+ headquarters in Collierville. of Greater Memphis at 903 Walker in South Memphis. The center has been effective in preparing young people for jobs that provide sustainable incomes, but one problem has persisted.
“Our ability to place people was very good,” Martin said. “But we found people were having a hard time getting to and from the place we placed them. And so we started looking for ways to see if we could solve that problem and realized it was part of a much wider problem across the city. “So we decided to try to do something about it.” While informed by challenges facing training center graduates, My City Rides will go far beyond the Boys & Girls Clubs to serve workers and employers across the city.
A “spatial mismatch” exists between where so many students and other Memphians live and the jobs that provide living wages, said Tiffanie Grier, career development director at the Boys & Girls Clubs’ technical training center.
“And it is imperative that students get to and from work to get out of poverty. So I would say it’s the No. 1 issue and barrier preventing them from keeping living-wage employment,” Grier said.