Nonprofit agency Spark has been working for the past year to find a vehicle to transport more than 100 youths to and from internships, but has been unsuccessful so far.
A vehicle may become available to the agency if SamTrans is able to implement a program that would enable nonprofits to borrow unused vehicles from government agencies or private entities.
“That would be amazing,” said Katie Krummeck, program manager of Spark — an after-school mentoring program in Redwood City and San Francisco. “We’ve been dreaming about something like this for more than a year.”
Krummeck said the nonprofit spends up to $5,200 annually by renting cars to shuttle 117 Redwood City teens throughout the year to internships up and down the Peninsula to give them real-life experience in their dream jobs.
An estimated 13 cars are rented weekly to get the kids from school to their internships and back. Krummeck said cars are a large investment for the nonprofit’s $1.2 million operating budget.
An ad was posted on San Mateo County’s community wish list more than a year ago, Krummeck said, but the request has yet to be answered.
“We struggle as an organization to figure out how to get kids where they are going,” she said. “And in Redwood City, it is completely car-based.”
With money from the federal New Freedom Program grant, SamTrans spokeswoman Christine Dunn said, a vehicle-share program is a new service the transportation authority would like to achieve.
“There are cities and public agencies in the county that have vehicles they are no longer using very much for one reason or another,” Dunn said. “It could be something other agencies need.”
The idea is still in preliminary stages, Dunn said, but with the grant, SamTrans would be creating a master list of available vehicles and putting nonprofits in contact with agencies for use.
Dunn said SamTrans hopes to create a network this year as part of the $200,000 New Freedom Program grant.
San Mateo County officials said they are not aware of the program but would be willing to discuss the possibility.
“We are always looking at ways to share services where possible with other public agencies,” said Peggy Jensen, deputy county manager for community services, “as we seek to stretch every dollar we can.”
Here to there
The nonprofit Spark spends thousands each year just on cars for transportation.
13 Rental cars needed throughout the year
117 Children who benefit from the shuttles
$5,200 Amount spent annually on rental cars
$1.2 million Budget for the nonprofit