Feonix-Mobility Rising Drives Equity in Transportation to Our Impact

This March, we recognize women leaders and women-led organizations with the annual celebration of Women's History Month. The once week-long event became a month-long celebration in 1987, honoring the often-overlooked contributions of women to U.S. history. At Ford Fund, we are amplifying the work of our partner organizations who advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion in our communities. Hear from Valerie Lefler, Executive Director of Feonix – Mobility Rising, who is leading a nationwide effort to bridge the transportation gap, one ride at a time.

Female with shoulder-length, straight blonde hair, who is smiling and wearing a black blouse with red poppies to the left of text: Our team is passionate about overcoming the fact that your zip code often determines your outcome in life. Valerie Lefler Executive Director of Feonix - Mobility Rising

Q: What drives your mission at Feonix - Mobility Rising?
A: If families or individuals can't access transportation to get the healthcare, jobs, or education they need, the range of opportunities available to them are limited. Mobility is at the core of achieving equitable communities. At Feonix, we're dedicated to creating mobility solutions for the health and wellbeing of every person in every community. Our team is passionate about overcoming the fact that your zip code often determines your outcome in life.


Q: Describe the communities you reach and how you reach them.
A: Our services reach rich, diverse communities. We serve both rural and urban communities including Detroit, Jackson, Ann Arbor, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, Dallas and Corpus Christi, Texas, Stanton, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Columbia, South Carolina.

The most impactful thing you can do is work alongside leaders who are already passionate and know the work, local community, and local politics. At Foenix, we're experts in transportation, regulations, and policy. And local leaders are experts in their community. We reach them by listening, asking questions, and partnering, not by claiming to have all the answers; but by asking, "What are your priorities, and how can we collaborate to address them?"


Q: How will Feonix - Mobility Rising continue to support the inclusion of women and girls?
A: The majority of Foenix's participants are women, not only as riders, but also as caregivers. Whether it's supporting transportation to improve healthy birth outcomes and reduce infant mortality, or aiding women who are caregivers supporting their own mothers, we find ways to help.

For us, it's about creating programs that are responsive to the women who are accessing resources, and for those who need support helping their families. As an organization, almost 70% of our team is women. With this, we're committed to factoring in women's perspectives in all aspects of the transportation space.


Q: What inspires you about your partnership with Ford Fund?
A: Our work together is about local impact. We're so grateful for the support of a global brand where you can feel their heart when they talk about their work. We also appreciate the synergy in our approach. What has been so impactful for us is how thoughtful, intentional, and supportive everybody from the Ford Fund has been on our journey.


Q: What is a recent success that makes you proud of your work?
A: We were awarded a $12 million grant by the National Institutes of Health's Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society Compass. We asked ourselves, if we provide transportation resources for individuals who are experiencing chronic illness, will those patients and families have better health outcomes? Can we break down some of those barriers in accessing the doctors that not only are the closest, but the doctors that are the best for them? With this approach, the communities are in the driver's seat. Our hope is for these families to never have to decide between buying groceries and paying for an Uber to chemo.


Q: How can Ford employees and the community support your work?
A: Ford employees can sign up through the Ford Volunteer Corps to be volunteer drivers. They can also donate so we can sustain our programs and continue to grow. And lastly, we encourage everyone to follow our journey and share our work and the impact we're having with your friends and family.

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