::UPDATE:: We reached our safety goal. But don't stop now, we still have a ways to go. In order to finish the whole school year we need a total of $97k. So we need your help to keep going!
Keep spreading the word! More bucks = more days and more rides!
Transportation is the biggest problem facing Detroit today. And a lack of it hurts our children most of all.
Detroit is quite the big city. 140 square miles big. Despite that size, our population has shrunk to just under 700,000. Because of budget cuts, public bus service and school bus transportation is at an all-time low. It’s never been harder to get around the city than it is right now. Stories like the one of James Robertson tell this tale in detail. But what you may not have heard is how kids and their parents are affected by Detroit's lack of transportation.
Enter The Youth Transit Alliance:
a little bus making a big difference.
But without funding, the buses stop end of day March 31st. Cold turkey. We can’t let that happen and we need your help.
DOOR TO DOOR: The Youth Transit Alliance is a new kind of ride. Instead of picking up kids in bulk, we go door-to-door so the maximum number of kids can participate in quality programming regardless of the time. While a few kids do get bussing to and from school, nobody gets a bus ride to an afterschool program and the majority of kids don’t get any sort of transportation. If these kids wanted to attend programs, many would have to walk past miles of factories and frequently in the dark. It’s obvious that most kids simply elect to stay home when presented with that obstacle. Just a couple blocks can make all the difference between success and stagnation.
SUCCESS COMES FULL CIRCLE: If kids have a chance to attend programs regularly, it makes all the difference. Kids that do attend programs regularly have a much greater chance for success over kids that don’t have access to quality programs. It’s a proven fact. Kids are: Way more likely to graduate. Way more likely to go to college. Way more likely to bring that success back to their neighborhoods and further improve the city. The sky is literally the limit if we provide our kids with every chance we can. The YTA shows kids there’s a world out there beyond the confines of their immediate vicinity.
ONE PERSON MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE: A conductor might just be one person but to a kid they can be the world. They’re the caring adult on the bus who makes a bus ride into something special. The conductor focuses on the well-being of the kids which is something special. Having a solid adult that’s there for them on time, every day further builds a support network around at-risk youth who deserve every possible advantage.
THEY CAN MAKE IT IF WE BELIEVE IN THEM: There are so many great programs available, but rarely do kids get to choose where they go. Now, a child can pursue their passion rather than accept only what’s available to them. They can do all sorts of things from karate, to t-shirt design, to web design and way more. Plus, these programs teach crucial life skills that equip kids with the knowledge they need to succeed.
COMMUNITY MATTERS: While the YTA is a project of The Detroit Bus Company, we wouldn’t get anywhere without robust support from the community. We’ve worked hard to build trust in the community including teachers, administrators, parents and the kids themselves. Youth voice is a powerful thing. This community involvement has led to a huge growth of users in our pilot neighborhood. The first child on a block using it leads to many more through word of mouth alone. The demand for equitable transit is there! It’s up to us to provide it as a society.
But if we don’t reach our funding goal, the buses stop end of day March 31st. Cold turkey. We can’t let that happen and we need your help.
This service is the kind of thing that will help build our neighborhoods up from the foundation. The kids are the future of any city and their access to opportunity affects us all.
The hours after school are when kids are most vulnerable. Something as simple as a mentor or caring adult can make all the difference. In Southwest Detroit alone, The Skillman Foundation funds 40+ quality youth programs so that kids can be safe and continue learning long after the school bell rings. Parents even benefit because they are more productive at work and feel greater job security when their kids are safe after school. But still, distance is a huge problem and consistent attendance can be a challenge.
We took a look at the problem, smashed our brains together and came up with a solution we called The Youth Transit Alliance. Okay, so maybe it was a little harder than that, but you get the idea. The point is, we set out to empower more youth in Southwest Detroit to ignite their passions with their choice of after-school program, regardless of the distance.
The Youth Transit Alliance gives totally free rides to youth from their schools, to their after-school programs, then directly home to their door.
To start our service, we had to throw everything “known” about transit out the window. The old playbook simply doesn’t work in Detroit. Unlike traditional transportation, the Youth Transit Alliance always goes door to door. With a driver and kid-facing conductor on board, kids are met with care, always accounted for and never left behind.
Once we had this awesome idea, we broadened the conversation so that everyone in the community could help shape this new concept. Southwest Detroit was chosen as our pilot neighborhood because the robust, vibrant community of people, organizations and leaders would help our tiny project grow big and strong. Almost two years on, the riders, parents and program leaders are key to the continued growth of YTA.
In our first year we managed to give 5,711 rides with just one 24-seater bus. We see this as a resounding success considering we were brand new to the scene. In Year Two, we honed a concept we call the “Take Home Area” to further increase efficiency and develop a replicable solution that we could apply to other neighborhoods. We’ve even gotten the attention of Detroit Public Schools and we’re in talks to expand this service to other neighborhoods ASAP. That’s a big deal.
Funding is always the problem. But we can fix it together.
Transit is expensive. Really expensive. Frequently, it costs more to get a child to the program than it does to provide the actual program to them. But we didn’t let that stop us. Our budget for the 2014-2015 school year is $245,672.00. That’s what’s needed to run our program every school day for an entire year. Wowzerz, I know. The Skillman Foundation has kicked in $160,000 of that this year and it’s up to us to raise the rest.
Our goal for this fundraiser is to raise $85,672. After Indiegogo and credit card fees, that becomes exactly $97,328.27 to keep the Youth Transit Alliance on the road until the end of the 2015 school year.
If we don't meet our goal, the buses stop rolling March 31st, 2015. Every dollar we raise keeps the buses moving a little longer and we'll keep you updated up at the top.
Solid funding is at the core of every project like this one. If we can figure that out, we can keep doing amazing things for transit in our city. Here's our breakdown for all of the costs involved in the project to the penny:
We’re so close to success, but we need to finish this year. Our ridership numbers are growing every week and we are just starting to see the impact of our 'every door' outreach. As ridership continues to grow, we are testing the bounds of what one bus can do. If this fundraiser is a success, we can prove our model and work on implementing the Youth Transit Alliance in more communities across the City of Detroit.
Help us finish this year, get some great kids where they need to go and solidify our brand new model for a different kind youth transportation in Detroit. Your pledge could mean a world of difference for someone.
The Detroit Bus Company L3C is a local not-just-for-profit company. It was launched in 2012 to help solve transit issues in the city of Detroit. The Youth Transit Alliance is a partnership between The Detroit Bus Company, The Skillman Foundation, Congress of Communities and Partnership for Youth. Our non-profit fiduciary is NEW.org.
If we're somehow lucky enough to achieve our funding goal, we don't want to stop there. Additional funding will allow us to keep rolling through the summer and provide transportation to a number of amazing summer programs. We've got a massive demand for summer transportation, but we can't make any promises without funding.
Stay tuned to this page and if we get close to our goal we'll build out our plans for the additional funding. Trust us, we can put it to good use.
We've been lucky enough to get some help along the way. It's important to recognize who helped us along our journey, whether it be big or small. Thank you for your tireless support, you're the reason we're still here today:
Watch the Videos
Here are some other great video pieces done on our project over the last couple years to help you get up to speed if you're just tuning in:
Dark Rye by Whole Foods
The TODAY Show (With Bob Dotson!)
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the goal set for $20k instead of the actual $97k you need to raise?
I've got some additional questions. How can I reach y'all?
You can call us anytime at 313-444-2871 and you'll get a real, live human. You can also email us at email@example.com -- we're real good at the email. You can also visit us on Facebook.
What's the goal after this year?
Our big scary goal has always been to provide a safe ride for every child in Detroit. After-school programming is vitally important, but we also recognize that there are a huge number of kids who can't get to regular school every day because of a lack of safe transit. We're dreaming of a Detroit where every kid can get everywhere they want to go without a doubt. That's major, but it's what we need to do as a city to get back on the right track.
Why does transit cost so much? The public bus is like $2/ride.
The federal and state government subsidizes most public transit to the tune of 80-95% of cost, so that $2 bus ride actually cost $15-30 to provide to you. Since this is a brand new service, we've got to fund it entirely without governmental dollars. After a few years of operation, we can make the case to fold this into the public transit funding stream and make it more institutionalized.
Why are you all doing this?
We're Detroiters. We believe in this city and what its citizens are capable of doing if given a fair runway in which to launch from. Most of us were born here and we're going to be damned if we're going to watch it slide even further.
I'd love to donate something to your cause. How can I help?
Well, first and foremost, donating money goes the longest way towards acheiving our goals. We tried paying our biodiesel guy in goodwill but he just wasn't having it. If your company makes something you think our funders would like, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 313-444-2871. We'd love to have you aboard as a sponsor by supplying a great perk.
If you'd like to make a bigger donation or want to talk to someone about the project, feel free to reach out using the information above.