With $1.4 million in funds, Beyond the Sanctuary has put Project Ride in motion. The project will help low-income county residents overcome transportation barriers to get to jobs.
Through a collaboration with Monroe County’s Department of Human Services, Project Ride offers various services including financial assistance for vehicle repairs, maintenance purchases like tires, and assistance with obtaining a driver’s license and insurance coverage.
The project was selected as part of Bring Monroe Back, Monroe County’s recovery plan that allocates federal funds received through the American Rescue Plan Act. The county has received more than $144 million in federal dollars.
“If you can’t make it to work regularly, or on time, you may be able to get a job, but you won’t keep that job for very long. Workforce development sometimes means more than connecting people to good-paying jobs, we need to consider how people get to those jobs,” says Adam Bello, Monroe County executive.
Thalia Wright, commissioner of the Department of Human Services, says transportation can be a hurdle to self-sufficiency. Scores of reports have shown that solutions to transportation can play a significant role in economic mobility.
“Lacking adequate means of transportation, as well as the ability to afford a car, impedes individuals’ abilities to both find and retain employment,” Wright says. “Transportation for the community has become an increasingly high priority as more jobs become available in suburban and rural areas. Jobs in these outlying areas are not viable options for community members living in the city of Rochester, unless we address transportation needs.”
Through compassion and collaboration, Beyond the Sanctuary addresses the physical and emotional challenges of poverty and hunger. The nonprofit hopes to help residents become self-sustaining.
Project Ride expands on Beyond the Sanctuary’s Drive to Success program, which works with residents to study for a learner’s permit and other steps toward a driver’s license. Candidates receive mentoring and coaching from BTS.
“Beyond the Sanctuary recognized the important ways a driver’s license impacts our lives. It’s a standard document that we often take for granted,” notes Carmen Allen, president and executive director. “It’s a critical form of ID verification for employers, doctor’s offices, schools, voter registration offices, and more. Its impact extends beyond convenience and mobility.”
In many cases, Allen says, it positively changes lives and is a step toward job opportunities.
“Our dream of expanding our Drive to Success program beyond helping members of our community obtain their driver’s license has come true,” she says. “We are now helping people become self-sufficient through employment and providing a pathway to car ownership. We are fortunate that our leaders in Monroe County share Beyond the Sanctuary’s vision, are willing to support our mission of transforming lives through this program, and ultimately believe in the people we both have the privilege to serve.”
Project Ride will also partner with community organizations such as RochesterWorks and Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Rochester to offer financial literacy education, access to banking services, credit repair guidance, savings strategies, and a six-week job readiness program for participating individuals, officials say.
Eligible residents can sign up for the program here.
Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected].