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Developing compelling products and solutions means using information on both individuals and corporate partners’ interest and data on the nature of community issues to create an effective impact agenda and meaningful products and solutions. These three components; individual needs, corporate donor interest and data driven research, all help shape product development so it is truly integrated with your 211. 211s have the ability to use the transformational data that is collected and ultimately drive the innovations that result in a better provision of service. 

One example of this is the Ride United program. Across the United States, a lack of reliable, safe, convenient transportation hinders hundreds of thousands of peoples’ abilities to get to good jobs, access healthcare, seek healthy food, apply for public benefits, and more. Due to a lack of public transportation, the high cost of car ownership, and other barriers, 211 navigators are often unable to meet transportation needs for callers. Through Ride United, United Ways and 211s are working to close these transportation gaps.

Since its launch, Ride United has expanded into many iterations to address the growing needs of the community. We want to highlight these impactful products and their use cases across communities. Some examples include: 

Ride United: Transportation Access (RUTA) - In June of 2018, United Way, in partnership with Lyft, launched RUTA to address transportation gaps by providing rides that help people access essential medical services, obtain healthy food, get to job interviews, apply for assistance, and more. Since inception, the program has served clients in over 930 towns and cities and has provided over 67,000 free and discounted rides.

  •  In April 2021, rides to/from COVID-19 vaccine inoculation were added as a use case in response to COVID-19, leading to the creation of RUTA’s Vaccine Access Campaign (RUVAC), which has attracted a wide range of national and local donors.

Ride United: Last Mile Delivery (RULMD) - In 2020, when COVID-19 began to impact millions of households, limiting physical access to healthy food services, United Way and DoorDash partnered to launch RULMD, which provides deliveries that help people access essential items like food pantry boxes and meals. Since inception, the program served over 350 towns and cities and has provided more than 447,000 free deliveries.

211 remains at the forefront of response as it pertains to needs within the community both met and unmet. Through our client interactions we have a front row seat in identifying needs and we are instrumental in the development of products and services that will meet needs within our community. Our strength is that we collect all the relevant information and have the insight that drives us to find solutions. Possibilities for innovation exist everywhere as evident in the evolution of the Ride United programs. To realize them, be willing keep an open mind and develop the capacity to look at things with fresh eyes.