The Paradox Prize Seeks Solutions to Improve Worker Mobility in Northeast Ohio

by | Jun 3, 2019

CLEVELAND–June 3, 2019–The Fund for Our Economic Future, in conjunction with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, The Lozick Family Foundation, and DriveOhio, announce the launch of The Paradox Prize.

The Paradox Prize seeks to invest in big ideas that help Northeast Ohioans who are stranded economically by their geography. The ideas will help connect these individuals to tens of thousands of open positions with paths to family-sustaining wages.

Over the next three years, the funders will award up to $1 million to support 15 pilots that test practical solutions that ultimately eradicate The Transportation Paradox.

Proposals are now being accepted at

The Transportation Paradox: No Car, No Job; No Job, No Car

For decades, industrial, commercial and residential development has migrated outward, but there has been no net increase in jobs or population to substantiate the regional spread. The result: Jobs are farther and farther away from where people live.

Northeast Ohio residents, in turn, face untenable choices: a commute by public transit that can be as long as three hours a day, an expensive commute by car that can consume more than an hour’s worth of wages, or a significantly smaller set of employment options.

“Too many residents find themselves stuck in an intractable scenario: no car, no job; no job, no car,” said Fund for Our Economic Future Vice President Bethia Burke.

Meanwhile, the increased distance between people and jobs reduces employers’ access to workforce and creates hiring and retention challenges, said Marty McGann, senior vice president of advocacy and strategic initiatives at Greater Cleveland Partnership.

“Long commutes increase turnover and, as a result, the cost of doing business,” he said. “Ultimately, our regional economy loses its competitive edge.”

“The Transportation Paradox can be solved if Northeast Ohio embraces seamless mobility solutions,” Burke said. “We are no longer living in a world where transportation options need to be limited by the choice between individualized car ownership or a traditional bus.”

Dominic Mathew, director of mobility innovation at the Fund for Our Economic Future, points to potential alternatives like ride-sharing, neighborhood-based designs, van-pooling services, or on-demand services.

“Provided in partnership with transit agencies and private employers, these solutions have the potential to dramatically increase prospects for economic advancement for residents and improve the ability for area businesses to fill thousands of open positions across the region,” Mathew said.

Fred Dedrick, president and CEO of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, emphasizes the important impact these ideas can have.

“This effort is ultimately about testing solutions that can lead to real system and policy changes,” Dedrick said. “These pilots have significant implications for the future of transportation and improved innovation in Ohio and in regions across the National Fund network.”

Please go to for more details and to submit your idea today!

About The Paradox Prize

The mission of The Paradox Prize is to incentivize and inspire breakthroughs that transform lives and Northeast Ohio’s economy. Anyone with a good idea can apply. Applications will be reviewed through a series of deadlines, the first of which is July 15. Funding will be awarded in rounds until exhausted, with three rounds planned in 2019. Awards are expected to range from $20,000 to $100,000, depending on the needs and potential impact of each project. Technical assistance also will be awarded to help further develop early-stage concepts.

Applicants are asked to submit a 300-word summary of the transportation challenge they’re trying to address, a proposed solution, and potential partners. Finalists will be asked to present a business plan before a regional Mobility Advisory Committee, comprising of leading experts in transportation, workforce development, business, philanthropy, and community building in Northeast Ohio.

For those experiencing a transportation challenge or those with an idea not yet ready for implementation, Fund for Our Economic Future staff will host regular office hours around the region to connect individuals with potential partners and solutions and to discuss and shape proposals. A full schedule is listed at

The Paradox Prize seeks solutions that are:

  • Connected to jobs. The overall goal is to help more people access or keep high-quality jobs.
  • Connected to the local place. The Transportation Paradox affects urban, suburban and rural communities; solutions that work in urban environments may be different from ones that work in suburban or rural environments, and vice-versa.
  • Simple, practical and easy to use.
  • Affordable for users and financially sustainable beyond the pilot process.
  • Measurable and demonstrate impact for low-income communities and people of color.
  • Considerate and respectful.
  • Additionally, the funders will prioritize proposals that complement existing infrastructure and transit, and have the ability to be spread, scaled or replicated.

About the Fund for Our Economic Future

The Fund for Our Economic Future is an alliance of more than 40 funders from across Northeast Ohio working toward a more extraordinary economy with good jobs and rising incomes for everyone through improved job creation, job preparation and job access. Learn more about our work or how to join us in our quest at

Media Contact

Sara McCarthy

Director of Communications

Fund for Our Economic Future