{ICYMI} Collab +: Sarah Freed of Uber and Linda Mitchell of Mary’s Place

by Victor B. De Los Santos

The world’s largest ride-share company has joined forces with one of Seattle’s most dynamic nonprofits. Uber has united aligned with Mary’s Place, using their premier ride share service to help make a difference by providing access and opportunity to low-income women and families in the Greater Seattle area. Mary’s Place “provides safe, inclusive shelter and services that support women, children, and families on their journey out of homelessness.”

The Uber/Mary’s Place partnership takes place through Uber Northwest’s Community Impact Initiative (CII) program, through which the company awards free rides to local nonprofits in order to remove transportation barriers for underserved communities. The rides are used to get people to and from important appointments, like job interviews, trainings, and doctor visits.

In the nonprofit community, —and I imagine in the ride ride-share community also, —this news is gigantic! Five years ago, I would’ve been standing around a water cooler at work complaining about my bus commute and chatting with my nonprofit colleagues about the latest news. Today, my “water cooler talk” is now taking place simultaneously in the back seat of a Prius (i seems) every other Uber in Seattle and on social media. Riders like myself, who have had to reduce our latte budget in tort to increase our Uber budget, can feel a sense of pride and contribution that the money we were spending on each Uber ride is going doing to do some good, helping remove a significant barrier for the women at Mary’s Place. And drivers can feel that the same, pride and contribution knowing that that their efforts are paying dividends beyond just the fare. They didn’t aren’t just transporting a person from Point point A to Point point B; they are helped helping to make a woman/daughter/mother’s life a little bit more manageable— and in some cases changeings the world for a client of Mary’s Place and her family. – here is what this dynamic due has to say about the biggest Seattle non-profit/Business Collab+ of 2018.

After spending 13 years in marketing at Microsoft, Linda Mitchell entered the world of politics and began a decade of consulting with campaigns of all sizes on leading strategy, fundraising, training, events, communication, and social media efforts. She is a past Mary’s Place board member and served as the first volunteer chair of the Mary’s Place Communications Committee before joining the team.

Here is what this dynamic duo has to say about the biggest Seattle nonprofit/business collaboration of 2018.

The Uber / Mary’s Place partnership takes place through Uber Northwest’s Community Impact Initiative program. Through the program, we award free rides to local nonprofits that are used to remove transportation barriers for underserved communities. The rides are used to get people to and from important appointments like job interviews and trainings and doctor visits.

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Victor de los Santos: Who initiated the conversation around this collaboration, and what was your thought process behind this unique service partnership?

Sarah Freed: Mary’s Place applied for free rides through the Community Impact Initiative program. Considering all the wonderful and really impactful work that they do and all of the lives that they changeas a result, it was a really easy decision to bring Mary’s Place on as a CII partner. And it’s really an honor to play such a small part in helping them carry out their work.

Linda Mitchell: When we learned about Uber’s Community Impact Initiative and their its focus on eliminating transportation barriers, —making sure that lack of transportation is not a roadblock to anyone getting the help they need, —we knew there was a fit, and we reached out to make that connection.

VDS: What organizational values drew you to to Uber/Mary's Place each other? Why did it HAVE to be Uber/Mary’s Place?

SF: Mary’s Place is one of a number of organizations that we partner with through the Community Impact Initiative in Seattle. In 2018, we actually had 45 CII partners. The one thing that I would say that stands out about Mary’s Place is how innovative the organization is! That’s something that we really appreciate here at Uber. The CII was created because we realized we had a unique opportunity to use our technology to solve a critical challenge facing people in our community. Mary’s Place is certainly one of most innovative nonprofits that are working on this challenge.

LM: Uber and Mary’s Place share a focus on homelessness and a commitment to making sure that people have access to the services and resources they need to be successful on their journey back into permanent housing.

VDS: What does this partnership mean to Uber, and what does it mean to the women and families served by Mary’s Place? (What is the win-win that motivated you to join forces?)

SF: We’ve heard so many powerful stories from Mary’s Place about the difference a simple ride can make for women and their families. Transportation is unfortunately a barrier to opportunity for many people, and the Uber rides Mary’s Place gives women and their families help reduce that barrier.

LM: A lack of reliable transportation can create barriers to getting work, getting children to school, making it to doctor’s appointment, or even moving into a new home. Being able to use Uber ride credits to get to an appointment or a job interview on time can be life life-changing. We have families who are struggling to overcome so many barriers in their daily lives, and Uber has ride credits to ease that burden and help people be successful.

VDS: What is are your ideal outcomes? If more than one, please tell us about all of them!

SF: I’d say that the ideal outcome is that we are able to continue working with Mary’s Place for years to come and that the rides provided have a positive impact on the trajectory of people’s lives.

LM: We are so grateful to Uber for providing these ride credits! We hope to be able to continue this partnership into the future!!

VDS: What larger life-change do you hope this very specific service collaboration will affect change in the lives of these clients?

SF: We, along with other partners in the program, know what a barrier transportation often is to accessing opportunity. In many cases, a simple convenient ride to an important meeting or an appointment can make a big difference in someone’s life or in the life of their family.

LM: Something as small as a ride to a job interview for one mom or dad can create economic self-sufficiency, a path to permanent housing, and a stable and happy family! When our community is stable and thriving, we all thrive!

VDS: Is there another collaboration that you see a need for that you hope this partnership will inspire or be a template for?

SF: I think it already has been. We recently reviewed the most recent round of CII partner applications and we had more than 100 a hundred of them, which is the most we’ve ever had.

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There you have it, my friends. Being As I am legally blind and do not possessing the ability to drive, Uber has definitely made my ventures throughout Seattle a whole lot easier, just as it is doing now for clients of Mary’s Place. And So the next time you’re pondering whether or not to take an Uber to your future destination, open up the app and order an Uber — consider that you’re you’ll also be supporting a program and collaboration that is helping the women and children of Mary’s Place in need.

I hope everyone has a safe and festive holiday season and Whatever cause ignites the fire within you, all you have to do is … show up, engage, remain teachable, and remember that “to UNITE is a good thing!”

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