Client In the News:
M1 Concourse, Pontiac Community Foundation partner to improve city transportation
By: Nick Mordowanec, Posted September 30, 2021
Transportation is a problem in Pontiac but two local partners are collaborating to fix that.
The nonprofit Checkered Flag Challenge, a philanthropic group of the Pontiac-based M1 Concourse, and the Pontiac Community Foundation recently announced an initiative called M1 Mobility to provide transportation for city residents trying to access community programs and services.
“Lack of access to public transportation is a critical issue throughout Oakland County, and particularly in Pontiac, and I look forward to supporting these two organizations as they combine their resources and expertise to tackle the inequities residents face in navigating the everyday challenges of getting to work, school and appointments,” said David Coulter, Oakland County’s executive, in a statement. “Additionally, I will ensure that Oakland County’s representatives at SMART request that SMART participate and provide resources where applicable.”
The Checkered Flag Challenge’s first event, The Checkered Flag Ball, takes place this Saturday, Oct. 2. Dressed in black-and-white attire, guests will enjoy food, wines and spirits, and dance to the tunes of Ben Sharkey.
Dustin McClellan, founder and CEO of the Pontiac Community Foundation, said talks began in early summer as M1 Concourse wanted to start a philanthropic arm.
“Transportation continued to come up as they met with different nonprofits,” McClellan said.
Terese Zlotoff, chair of the Checkered Flag Challenge board of directors, began talking to different foundations, including Lighthouse, HAVEN and Care House about what the new nonprofit could do.
“There was a common theme that transportation was frequently a roadblock in providing the residents of Pontiac with the services that they need,” Terese Zlotoff said.
When she reached out to McClellan and his organization, it was described as a “perfect fit.”
McClellan, citing U.S. Census results and Oakland County data, said over 19% of Pontiac’s households have no access to a vehicle. For Oakland County households that number is just 5.2% and 7.7% across Michigan.
Higher transportation costs, such as auto insurance, contributes to the lack of access which makes tasks like going to doctor’s appointments or getting healthy foods a challenge.
“If you don’t have access to transportation, your food options, your grocery store options are extremely limited,” McClellan said.
As part of M1 Mobility’s first phase, a shuttle service will begin transporting area youth to after-school and recreational programming in October. The service will expand to others beginning in January.
McClellan said he knew several youth programs had transportation needs as well, including Accent Pontiac, Center for Success Pontiac, and Oakland County Sheriff PAL. The Pontiac Community Foundation is leasing the shuttle vehicles.
Zlotoff said M1 has reached out to over 300 of its garage owners and other sponsors to introduce the partnership and initiative. Guests at Saturday’s ball will hear how M1 Mobility plans to address the transportation gap in Pontiac.
“We really feel we have had a positive response,” she said.
The Checkered Flag Ball starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are limited and cost $500 per person. Purchase tickets at www.checkeredflagchallenge.org.