My City Rides to roll out scooter cam­paign

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page -

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.

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