Through their Community Grant Program initiated on Jan. 24, rideshare company Lyft is supplying $1000 in ride credit to nonprofits and student organizations in the Ann Arbor and Detroit area. Beginning in February, the ride-share company will choose one organization to bestow this grant upon each month. With this grant, Lyft aims to support the work of these organizations by helping with transportation difficulties.
In a press statement shared with The Daily, Lyft stated its goal of building relationships with groups with important missions in the Ann Arbor community.
“As an active member of the greater Ann Arbor business community, Lyft is excited to continue strengthening partnerships with local organizations that are doing important work in the community,” it states.
Any nonprofit or student group from the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Concordia University-Ann Arbor or Washtenaw Community College is eligible to apply for the grant. The application process is competitive, and will prompt organizations to discuss their qualifications, including their mission, how they would utilize the grant and how they use transportation.
This is not the first time Lyft has supported student groups at the University. During November of 2017, Lyft teamed up with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center to promote Better Bystander Month. Lyft supplied coupons for $10 off any ride between midnight and 6 a.m. and SAPAC hosted voluntary bystander intervention workshops for Lyft drivers.
LSA senior Julia Berg, a volunteer co-coordinator for SAPAC’s Bystander Intervention and Community Engagement program, said the Lyft partnership was a success in terms of helping students and other members of the community becoming more aware of how to be better bystanders.
“It was a cool partnership we had with them, and we’re hoping to keep using those Lyft passes to demonstrate that Lyft is still partnering with us and that we can still be better bystanders,” Berg said.
Berg was unsure of how often SAPAC uses transportation on an organizational level, but thought they could perhaps use the grant to collaborate with other student organizations.
“Within BICE, we’ve done a lot with the bystander intervention part of our name, and we’re working more on the community engagement part,” Berg said. “So hopefully we can find ways to work with other groups on campus that could potentially use this as a resource. Or maybe there’s some sort of collaborative event that could use this type of funding.”
Berg also said she’d be interested in using the grant to continue providing students with late-night Lyft passes.
“We didn’t actually give out all of the passes we got from Lyft, but we’re hoping to give more out at workshops,” Berg said. “If the funding could be used in that capacity, I think that would be a cool opportunity.”
For organizations like The Detroit Partnership, a University student group that aims to get students involved in the Detroit area, Lyft’s grant could be especially helpful. Business senior Arjun Kaushal, finance director of The Detroit Partnership, discussed the group’s reliance on transportation to achieve their mission. He said the group mainly uses Zipcar to transport students for their weekly programs and buses for their major events.
Kaushal said Lyft’s program is something the organization would probably look into, but noted how quickly they would run through the $1,000 due to how often they need transportation.
“It’s obviously of interest to us; it’s in our target space as it’s targeting communities in Ann Arbor and Detroit,” Kaushal said. “In terms of the $1,000, if I was going to use Lyft to go to Detroit, one way is around 50 bucks. For us, as an organization, we’d use it up pretty quickly.”
Kaushal also said he recognized the benefits of this grant and a continuing partnership with Lyft.
“From what I hear, Lyft is generally good about factoring in social change and positive change in their mission and their company’s fabric,” Kaushal said. “Functionally, there’s definitely value to be had there for us in getting our members down to the city.”
In an email interview, Elliot Darvick, the general Lyft manager of Detroit, said the positive drive demonstrated by students at the University motivated Lyft to extend the Community Grant Program to Ann Arbor. He also expressed his excitement in seeing what these organizations will achieve with the help of the grant.
“Knowing that U-M students and the community surrounding them are equally driven to create a better world inspired us to bring the grant program to Ann Arbor,” Darvick wrote. “I’m eager to see the great work that organizations in our community are able to do with access to Lyft’s safe, reliable, and convenient rides.”