March 10, 2016 

By Nolan V. Rollins 

President of the Los Angeles Urban League 

Los Angeles has long been a city where great wealth lives next door to chronic poverty.  While our economy is gradually recovering from the Great Recession, many of us don’t see it when we look out our window in Crenshaw. Here, hard-working Angelenos find it difficult to make ends meet. While city-wide the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.8%, unemployment among black men is still at crisis levels: about 30% of 20- to 24-year-old black men were out of work and out of school in 2014.


For nearly 100 years, the Los Angeles Urban League has been on the frontlines of combating inequality and unemployment in our city.  As the nation’s oldest and one of its largest civil rights organizations, we take pride in our innovative job training, job placement, youth achievement, and business development programs.


That’s why we’re excited to launch a new initiative with Uber called Work on Demand -- a partnership to onboard 12,000 new drivers in 12 months in communities ranging from South and East Los Angeles to Crenshaw and Pacoima. 


We have tremendous support with the Work on Demand initiative.  On March 10, we stood shoulder to shoulder with partners Councilwoman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office, PV JOBS, NAACP, CRDC, the Goodwill, the Youth Policy Institute, MCS, Chrysalis, and many other local organizations dedicated to serving the community.


Companies like Uber are game-changers for underserved communities in Los Angeles. Even before we launched Work on Demand, our community felt the positive impact of rides on demand for everyone, no matter who you are or where you’re going. Before Uber, “destination discrimination” was rampant - it could be nearly impossible to hail a cab in certain neighborhoods. With Uber, transportation comes straight to our houses, schools, and businesses to pick us up. 


Now Uber is demonstrating that it also wants to be an integral community partner. Their commitment means that 12,000 people will have the opportunity to earn extra money to help pay bills and support their families. Twelve thousand people will have the freedom and flexibility to set schedules and work whenever they need additional income. That’s the beauty of work of demand - work fits your life, not the other way around.


And as a part of their effort to bring on 12,000 new drivers partners, Uber will also be providing skill-building courses and information sessions to pave the way for greater economic opportunity.


The Urban League is proud to be a part of the Work On Demand initiative. It’s creating badly-needed work opportunities here in Crenshaw and beyond. We encourage policymakers to see the potential of this new economic model that is making a difference in communities that need it most.  Imagine a world where finding work is as easy as pressing a button. We’re excited to see where this ride takes us. 

Category: Opinion