Across Juma sites, one of the most persistent and complex challenges youth face is transportation. Getting to and from work can be the biggest barrier to a youth succeeding at the Juma job. In Sacramento, thanks to the support of longtime partner SMUD—Sacramento Municipal Utility District—Juma is piloting an innovative program to help fill in gaps in youth transportation plans with an original but simple solution: bikes.
“It came up because we have one youth who doesn’t have a car or reliable transit who takes different public transit to get to work. We found out their home is a mile from the bus stop so they had to walk the rest of the way after dark in an unsafe part of town,” explains Claire Wheeler, Juma’s Director of Impact. After the team found out that this young person had been robbed multiple times on their way to and from the bus stop, they knew they needed a sustainable solution to keep this young person safe while continuing to offer access to opportunity.
Serendipitously, as the team decided to seek funds to get the young person a bike, they were approached by SMUD about their annual employee-led initiative to fund a project for a local nonprofit. Together, the team at SMUD and Juma Sacramento devised the JobCycle Connect Program. Through this new initiative, SMUD is raising funds for Juma Sacramento to buy bikes which can then be loaned out to individual Juma youth for their tenure in the program.
Reflecting on how the program proposal went from nonexistent to fully fleshed out in two days, Stephen Norris, Juma’s California Director of Government Contracts, is grateful for the long term support and synchronicity between Juma and SMUD.
“We’re grateful that we found so many different ways to partner with SMUD. They have really compelling but distinct community priorities— and we’re really glad our mission and values have intersected with theirs,” says Stephen. “Even if one young person was able to make more shifts and have a bigger impact on their career journey, that would already be a win, and we expect to be able to impact many more youth stories than just one with this sustainable program.”
On SMUD’s side, their employees and leadership are also excited to be able to give back to their community in a way that aligns with their sustainability values. “Juma’s JobCycle Connect project addresses an identified workforce development barrier and improves the wellbeing, environment and financial security of local youth while also promoting carbon free transportation.”
The JobCycle Connect program is currently in the funding stage and aiming to purchase bikes and equipment in 2024. As the program takes off, we look forward to seeing the ways safe and reliable transportation can impact Juma youth and perhaps expand to other sites. We’re also grateful for the aid of our community partners in upholding our first and most important value: Youth First.