Equiticity Mobility Opportunities Fund will help North Lawndale residents buy green vehicles
On Thursday the mobility justice nonprofit Equiticity kicked off its Mobility Opportunities Fund program at the Collins Academy High School in Douglass Park. The fund, bankrolled by a $450,000 grant from ComEd’s Climate-Friendly Grant Assistance initiative, will provide stipends to North Lawndale residents to help them buy a conventional bicycle (a $350 stipend), electric bicycle ($750), electric cargo bicycle ($1,500), or electric car ($3,500). The Equiticity program will also train stipend recipients on how to safety use their new vehicles, provide low-cost or free maintenance, done by youth who participate in the group’s training programs; and hold events to promote the fund and the advantages of low-emissions transportation.
At the event, Remel Terry, the nonprofit’s director of programming, noted that Equiticity CEO Oboi Reed has been promoting sustainable transportation and helping build community in North Lawndale and other underserved Chicago communities of color for several years, so that gave credibility to the nonprofit’s pitch for funding. She added that in North Lawndale, “many people don’t have access to different modes of transportation, and not even traditional modes of transportation like automobiles.”
“A lot of the work for Equiticity is around operationalizing racial equity at a local level to create a city where everyone is able to actualize and harness the power,” Terry added. “We really want to be able to show people how they can be capable and address issues in their community in a very active way.”
According to Oboi Reed, the program represents Equiticity’s “vision for operationalizing the three intersecting frameworks of racial equity, mobility justice, and environmental justice.” The initiative also represents a step forward for North Lawndale, a neighborhood which faces a wide array of “racialized injustices.”
Reed noted that residents of this predominantly Black, low-to-moderate income community have to contend with sub-par transportation access, unemployment, poverty, violence, and poor air quality. The latter is a common problem for Black and Brown neighborhoods due to emissions from nearby “highways, arterials, and industrial corridors/areas.”
He added that better transportation options for residents of neighborhoods like North Lawndale also means better job opportunities. “Lengthy commutes make it more difficult for low-income people and racially marginalized people to access available employment, decreasing overall productivity and quality of life.” He hopes that the Mobility Opportunity Fund will “deliver climate-friendly modes of transportation to residents who might otherwise be left behind by the transportation revolution.”
Applications for stipends are being accepted through May 15, 2023, or until the money runs out. The program is open to North Lawndale residents 18 or older who meet income requirements based on household size.
Once an application is approved, the stipend recipient would purchase the vehicle, with Equiticity providing the stipend money directly to the vendor. The purchase must be made by May 31, 2023.
Remel Terry said Equiticity is currently trying to find funding that would allow it to expand the program to other underserved communities. Learn more about the Mobility Opportunities Fund here.
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