Fund for Our Economic Future shares impact, lessons and implications of The Paradox Prize initiative at special event honoring eight pilots
CLEVELAND—June 17, 2022—The Fund for Our Economic Future on Thursday announced Laketran as the Grand Prize winner of The Paradox Prize, a $1 million competition launched in 2019 that supported eight transportation pilots, which collectively helped connect more than 1,300 people to jobs and more than 400 businesses to needed talent.
Laketran, the public transit agency serving Lake County, received the $25,000 Grand Prize award at a special event at the Agora Theatre in Cleveland designed to celebrate the achievements of the eight pilots and build on what they started. The Fund also presented the pilot team at The MetroHealth System with a special President’s Award to acknowledge its success in demonstrating cultural and practical shifts employers can make to provide greater commute options.
“These teams exhibited the initiative, creativity and commitment that can make a real difference,” said Fund President Bethia Burke. “Picking winners was hard! The portfolio was full of outstanding ideas and superb execution, including electric vehicle car-sharing for low-income residents, the first real public transportation option for Wayne County, expanded and sustained routes in Oberlin, and experiments in fare equity, to name a few.”
Laketran used its initial $75,000 award from The Paradox Prize to develop Transit GO, a transit benefit program for Lake County employers to provide free transportation to employees. More than 400 employees at more than 175 employers have taken advantage of the program. Those enrolled are saving around $70 a month in transportation costs, a significant cost savings considering the average wage of those in the program is $12 an hour. Through an Ohio Department of Transportation grant and a local tax levy, Laketran has made Transit GO a permanent offering. Additionally, data gleaned through the program indicated that its local routes do not start early enough to accommodate workers with 6 a.m. start times, so Laketran is discussing a service expansion to start operating earlier.
“The Paradox Prize enabled us to work more closely with employers, to better understand their needs and implement creative solutions to meet those needs,” said Laketran CEO Ben Capelle. “We’ve found a way to support employers and thereby empower them to better support their employees.”
MetroHealth, through its pilot, modeled how employers can work incrementally toward institutional changes that can make commutes more affordable, efficient and environmentally sustainable.
“How can employers be more commuter friendly? Find the transit stops, walking paths, bike racks by your location,” offered Sarah O’Keeffe, director of environmental sustainability for MetroHealth. “Find out what your industry peers are doing and do your own employee commuter survey. Find out how your employees really get to work. Change ‘Parking’ information for employees to ‘Transportation’ information and list how employees can access different types of commuting modes. These are simple steps that can go a long way in improving how individuals access the jobs you’re looking to fill.”
To learn more about what The Paradox Prize pilots achieved, the big takeaways and recommendations for what comes next, download the Impact Report here.
“The pilots made a significant impact on real people and businesses and went a long way in improving mobility in Northeast Ohio—but the long-term objective of The Paradox Prize was always about solving the ‘no car, no job; no job, no car’ paradox for good,” Burke said. “The work ahead of us is to build on these ideas with employers, transit agencies and policymakers. Transportation is everyone’s business. Improving job access for the 4 million-plus residents who call Northeast Ohio home is imperative for anyone working toward a more equitable economy. Already, additional pilots and services are under development across the region. Collectively, these efforts will make our region more competitive and prosperous.”
About The Paradox Prize
The Fund’s Paradox Prize initiative, launched in 2019, supported eight ideas with resources and technical assistance. Over the last few years, the pilots have been helping connect people to jobs across urban, suburban and rural communities in seven counties, enabling more than 1,300 workers to access jobs that were previously inaccessible and reducing the time and cost it takes to commute, and enabling businesses to access reliable talent. Learn more at paradoxprize.com.
About the Fund for Our Economic Future
The Fund for Our Economic Future is a creative space for philanthropic funders and civic leaders to explore what matters and implement what works to achieve equitable economic growth, emphasizing systemic, long-term change. Our vision is a growing Northeast Ohio economy creating good jobs and rising incomes for everyone, regardless of race or place. To achieve this vision, we focus on efforts that improve job creation, job preparation and job access with deliberate attention to reducing race-based inequities. Learn more at thefundneo.org.