• What is The Paradox Prize?

    The Paradox Prize is a public call for big ideas to improve the mobility of Northeast Ohio’s workforce. Over the next three years, the Fund for Our Economic Future, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, The Lozick Family Foundation, and DriveOhio, a subsidiary of the Ohio Department of Transportation, will provide up to $1 million of funding and technical assistance to support up to 15 pilots to test transportation solutions that can help Northeast Ohioans who are stranded economically by geography connect to jobs.

  • How will it work?

    Funding and technical assistance awards will be distributed through multiple rounds, until the funding is exhausted. Up to three rounds of awards will be considered in 2019. See the timeline here for deadlines and other information. Applicants are encouraged to apply early.

    We realize some prospective applicants may recognize or experience a transportation challenge and not have a solution; others may have an idea or a solution but not an employer partner to work with. The Fund for Our Economic Future is ready to help! Throughout the challenge, we invite you to take advantage of opportunities around the region to meet with the Fund staff to discuss ideas, connect to partners and shape proposals to get them ready for consideration. We also will hold meet-ups for those interested in connecting with others to discuss this challenge and work toward solutions. More information on these opportunities can be found here.

  • What are you trying to solve?

    We are trying to solve The Transportation Paradox of “no car, no job; no job; no car.” For decades, industrial, commercial and residential development have migrated outward, with no net increase in jobs or population to substantiate this regional spread. The result: Jobs are farther and farther away from where people live, which creates a disconnect between people and the economy. The disconnect exacerbates racial inequities, limits economic mobility, harms the region’s businesses, and diminishes the overall health of our economy.

    For residents, it leads to untenable choices: a commute by public transit that can be as long as three hours a day, an expensive commute by car that can consume more than an hour’s worth of wages, or a significantly smaller set of employment options.

    Those most affected are people of color. National and local policies have driven segregated development patterns and community disinvestment, resulting in regional areas of economic distress that are disproportionately populated by black residents while the fastest growing job hubs are located in communities that are disproportionately white. This amounts to distance discrimination.

    Meanwhile, for the region’s employers, the increased distance between people and jobs reduces access to workforce and creates hiring and retention challenges. Long commutes increase turnover and, as a result, the cost of doing business.

  • How do you define Northeast Ohio?

    Northeast Ohio includes the 18 counties of Erie, Huron, Richland, Ashland, Lorain, Medina, Wayne, Cuyahoga, Summit, Stark, Tuscarawas, Lake, Geauga, Portage, Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, and Columbiana.

  • How do you define a “good job?”

    “Good jobs” are those that pay a family-sustaining wage (we use the University of Washington Center for Women’s Welfare county-based self-sufficiency standard as a benchmark), but also address other factors of job quality. These include things like shift time; part-time or temporary job vs. full-time or permanent employment; opportunities for career advancement; safety; access to quality child care; access to health care; access to transportation; and other non-wage-based improvements.

  • How do you define workforce?

    Individuals 16 years or older who are currently connected or who would like to be connected to a job.

  • Why not fund public transportation if you want to improve mobility in Northeast Ohio?

    We recognize funding for public transportation in Ohio is not at the level needed to ensure effective, efficient and innovative systems across the region. The Paradox Prize aims to build on existing infrastructure and encourage the proliferation of other mobility modes that complement public transportation. Ultimately, this would free up our region’s public transportation systems to focus on core competencies and improve service, reduce commute time and cost for individuals, and help businesses access needed talent. Public transportation systems are important partners in this work.

  • How should a pilot measure success?

    While proposed success measures should be specific to the design, users, partners, and outcomes of the particular pilot, pilots are expected to share some common elements:

    • All pilots that include service delivery should seek to understand, report on and improve user experience.
    • All pilots should define success measures relevant to sustainable funding. For example, if an employer is expected to subsidize a mobility solution in the long-term, the success measure(s) relevant to that employer should be identified.
  • Does my solution have to scale across Northeast Ohio?

    No. Urban, suburban and rural places all face transportation challenges, but the solutions may be different. Sustainability is also more important than scalability. While we would love to see solutions that can ultimately benefit a lot of people, a strong, neighborhood-based solution that improves mobility for a disconnected community and is sustained for those residents but does not scale beyond the initial community is still a successful pilot.

  • How many people does my pilot have to serve?

    As many as makes sense for your pilot. Funding awards may scale in response to the number of people served, but what’s most important is that you have the right scale to test your idea and that the solution has the potential for sustainability.

  • Who will evaluate my proposal?

    Click here for a list of those on the Advisory Committee.

  • Who can I contact for more information?

    Please email us at paradoxprize@thefundneo.org.

  • What does it mean if I’m awarded technical assistance?

    The Fund and its partners will assist proposals that put forth a promising idea or solution but need further development or partnership to be feasible. Technical assistance can be in the form of sector experts or access to tools that will help participants shore up their proposal for a future round of funding. An award of technical assistance may improve the potential for future funding but does not guarantee a future financial award nor does it obligate the Fund and its partners to consider a future proposal.

  • What are some tools/resources I can use while developing my proposal?

    Throughout the challenge, we encourage you to take advantage of opportunities around the region to meet with the Fund staff, during which you can get connected to additional tools, resources and partners. You can also check out the latest news on worker mobility and transportation innovation here.

  • I understand or experience the challenge. How do I connect with a solution or find a partner?

    Throughout the challenge, we encourage you to take advantage of opportunities around the region to meet with the Fund staff to discuss ideas, connect to partners and shape proposals to get them ready for consideration. We also will hold meet-ups for those interested in connecting with others to discuss this challenge and work toward solutions. More information on these opportunities can be found here.

  • How do I demonstrate commitment to my idea?

    No idea is a bad idea and we welcome all kinds of innovative solutions. Winning solutions will be bolstered by deep understanding of the context, challenge and proposed solution. Established partnerships, supportive funding from applicant and/or its partners, strong links to the community, or an idea set in motion indicate commitment toward the end goal of The Paradox Prize.

  • Who will make the final funding decisions?

    Click here for a list of those on the Selection Committee.

  • How do I apply?

    Click here to access the application form.

  • Who can apply?

    Anyone with a good idea! Experiencing a transportation challenge, but not sure of a solution? Contact us to set up a time to discuss or attend one of our office hours around the region. In addition to funding, we also are awarding technical assistance to help shape ideas and get them ready for potential funding.

  • How long will pilots be supported?

    The proposed time period for a pilot should align with the expected time to measure and demonstrate impact for the users and the expected long-term, sustainable funding source. This takes time; the Paradox Prize expects to support pilots over a 60- to 180-day time period.

  • On what can the award be spent?

    The award can be spent on setting up infrastructure for and implementing pilots, subsidizing costs for the user or developing systems that aid or ease worker mobility. It cannot be used to cover operating deficits of organizations, fundraising events or activities not related to the submitted proposal.

  • What do possible solutions look like?

    Possible solutions can be anything that improves connections between people and jobs. We are no longer living in a world where transportation options need to be limited by the choice between individualized car ownership or a traditional bus. Potential alternative options include ride-sharing, neighborhood-based designs, van-pooling services, and on-demand services, provided in partnership with transit agencies and private employers. In addition, data platforms and predictive analytics make responsive route planning possible. Outcomes of possible solutions could include decreasing commute time or cost for existing workers, opening up employment opportunities for individuals seeking work, making existing services more transparent or easier to use, making it easier for companies to offer transportation benefits, establishing or making more available back-up emergency transportation options, to name a few.

    Strong solutions will demonstrate an understanding of the users, have a clear connection to jobs and build on existing assets (e.g., public transportation).

    Strong solutions are expected to address one or more of the following:

    • Workforce issue. For example, increases retention or reliability, or expands potential talent pool.
    • Disconnected population. For example, improves transportation access or increases affordability of transportation options for un- or underemployed individuals to job interviews and/or training opportunities, or students to internships or work experience, or those living in economically distressed communities to jobs.
    • Transportation services. For example, covers public transit service gap, i.e., overnight, first mile/last mile of trip, or integrates or makes more transparent mobility options, or improves efficiency of existing services.
  • How much money will be awarded?

    Funding and/or technical assistance awarded to implement solutions will depend on the scale of the pilot and proposed impact as well as the type of solution proposed. Awards are expected to range from $20,000 to $100,000 per pilot and may differ from the amount requested in the proposal, as determined by the funders.

  • What are the criteria?

    See a list of selection criteria here.

  • What is the timeline?

    Find a timeline of the challenge here.

  • How many times can I apply?

    There are no restrictions on the number of times you apply, and multiple funding awards could be granted to an organization to support more than one pilot.