Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay announced Monday that it will partner with Uber to offer free rides to mentors for children in the program who live in Boston neighborhoods that are underserved by public transportation.
The six-month pilot program will ferry volunteer big brothers and big sisters to 50 children, or “littles,” who live in the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale and Roxbury.
Children in those neighborhoods make up the bulk of the more than 600 young people still waiting to be matched to a mentor, most of whom are young professionals or college students who don’t own a car, said Wendy Foster, chief executive of the nonprofit. The goal is to remove 50 children from the wait list by promoting the free rides.
“The further you get away from those public transportation routes, you will find more and more children waiting,” said Foster, who reached out to Uber’s Boston office for help several months ago. “A volunteer would have to be in transit for a long time, and much of that on foot, before they can get to their little’s residence.”
The new mentors will have access to unlimited free rides with the ridesharing company’s carpool program, UberPOOL, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, when most volunteers schedule activities and outings with the kids.
Chris Taylor, general manager for Uber Boston, said connecting with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay furthers company’s goal of increasing the number of riders and drivers in Dorchester, Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale and Roxbury. The partnership will not affect the pay of UberPOOL drivers, he said.
“Our ability to help and be part of the solution is great,” Taylor said. “We’re about to get 50 littles off the waiting list.”
City Councilor Tito Jackson, who is set to speak at a press conference on the program, said in an interview that the pilot program could entice more people to volunteer to be big brothers or big sisters.
“Many of the neighborhoods that this program serves have some of the greatest disparities in terms of high-speed access to the core of the City of Boston,” Jackson said. “So it is critical that we innovate when it comes not only to technology, but also how we can use technology to heal and deal with social issues.”Katheleen Conti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKConti.