The Paradox Prize to Connect Nonprofits with COVID-related Transportation Needs to Area Transit Agencies with Available Resources

by | Apr 10, 2020

CLEVELAND–April 10, 2020–Life as we know it may have come to a halt, but the mobility of people, goods and services is more critical now than ever before in the midst of the unfolding global pandemic and economic crisis. People affected by COVID-19 must be able to access care; essential workers must be able to report to work; vital health care supplies must get delivered as quickly as possible; and crucial services like food delivery must go on. Meanwhile, public transportation agencies and other mobility providers have been adjusting or reducing fixed-route and other services as rider demand drops amid the statewide stay-at-home order.

The Paradox Prize is working to connect several transit agencies around the region (and soon to be state), including the WRTA, SARTA, Laketran, and Akron METRO, to area nonprofits with COVID-related needs. Nonprofits and public transit agencies equipped to assist can go to to fill out a short form and immediately access information related to their service area.

“Over the last few weeks, we have been connecting with transportation partners across the region and country to better understand how this pandemic is affecting service and how mobility needs are shifting,” said Bethia Burke, president of the Fund for Our Economic Future. “We’ve learned service providers have a critical unmet need, while transit agencies are seeing unprecedented decline in ridership.”

The Ohio Emergency Management Agency is enabling transit agencies to shift use of assets to support vital services in our community. Transit agencies and nonprofits with COVID-related needs are encouraged to fill out the simple forms on the website as soon as possible. Fund staff is available to assist in the “matchmaking” process.

The COVID-19 pandemic also has underscored the need for innovative mobility solutions to continue to address the ‘no car, no job; no job, no car’ paradox as laid-off workers look for new opportunities at businesses seeing a surge in demand. These available positions are often far from where the unemployed live, making access more difficult. At the same time, essential workers must be able to access safe, secure and affordable transportation options.

The Paradox Prize recently awarded three grants to support mobility solutions in the region. The following are the winners of its 3rd round of open competition:

  • Strengthening Stark, a county-wide economic growth and sustainability movement, will receive $100,000 to connect workers with workforce mobility solutions, wraparound services and job training. To address the various barriers, half a dozen local agencies, including SARTA, will work collectively to deliver innovative mass transit and on-demand point-to-point solutions.
  • Nearly a dozen Lorain County agencies, led by the city of Oberlin, have partnered on a one-year, $100,000 collaborative effort to provide 24/7 work transportation solutions in portions of Lorain, Elyria and Oberlin through expanded public transit service and access to electric car sharing, with the potential to serve several hundreds of under-served residents.
  • The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA), in partnership with The Centers, will receive $100,000 to pilot a Career Navigation Program for participants in entry-level job training to explore the use of public transportation service and its cost as part of GCRTA’s ongoing research regarding fare equity.

“GCRTA’s primary mission is to take people where they need to go in a safe and efficient manner,” said GCRTA General Manager and CEO India Birdsong. “I am confident the data gathered through this program will assist GCRTA in resolving the spatial disparity between people and jobs and in developing mobility solutions that are equitable for all members of society.”

Be sure to check The Paradox Prize website frequently for updates and additional opportunities.


About The Paradox Prize

The mission of The Paradox Prize is to incentivize and inspire breakthroughs that transform lives and Northeast Ohio’s economy. Supported by the Fund for Our Economic Future, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, Greater Cleveland Partnership, The Lozick Family Foundation, Cuyahoga County, the Cleveland Foundation, and DriveOhio, The Paradox Prize is awarding up to $1 million over three years to support mobility pilots that can improve connections of people to jobs.


Media Contact

Sara McCarthy