program overview




The “Sustainable Mobility Career Awareness & Innovation Challenge” for youth (18-25 years of age) builds on iyai+s core infrastructure career awareness and My Beloved Community” youth voice and active community engagement elements.

The Program includes three (3) distinct components: 

  1. CAREER AWARENESS Professional Networking & Personal Development prioritizing current “essential” hard-to-fill positions and projected growth in local areas.
  2. INNOVATION CHALLENGE TEAMS of 4-7 youth to work on locally-identified mobility/transport challenges addressing the theme of achieving “equity-centered” sustainable mobility. Culminating in the selection of a 1st and 2nd place winning team ($750 USD per-person prize to 1st place team; $250 USD per-person prize to 2nd place team), plus 2 $1000 USD team prizes for social media creativity and communication innovation.
  3.  CRITICAL CONVERSATIONS developed from surveys and documented youth focus groups with transport management and labor to share youth insights re: transport sector workforce challenges, opportunities, and potential solutions. The results of this input will inform plans for a “2024” Future Workplace Summit.

We are also tremendously pleased that it marks a significant program expansion --  in terms of program content – the Innovation Challenge” and Critical Conversations” components - and geographic reach, with 12 geographic locations across the U.S. and 18 public transport agencies – including first-time participation by Canadas largest public transportation operator – the Toronto Transit Commission, (TTC).

The transport sector has been one of the hardest hit by labor shortages – starting with essential frontline workers.  While the Pandemic caused a major disruption – long-term solutions for the workforce crisis need to go much deeper and our program aims to do that. We are thankful to our program sponsors, partners, and advisors for helping to make this possible.

Local Organizers are encouraged to tailor the areas of interest for their Innovation Challenge topic(s) to specific high area(s) of interest in their respective local area.   The more timely, relevant, results-focused, and potentially actionable the Challenge – the better!

local participant areas:

Chicago, Denver, Illinois, Indianapolis, Inland Empire, Jacksonville, Massachusetts, Portland, Rhode Island, the San Francisco/Oakland Bay metropolitan area Regional Consortium (participating public transport agencies), Tampa, and Toronto. Learn more about our local organizers.



Achieving Sustainable Mobility within the context of a NEW Normal that is equity-centered!  The overarching Sustainable Mobility” Innovation Challenge theme is consistent with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and the national transport programs of both the United States and Canada – which could not be more relevant today.  

The challenge underscores major national efforts in both North American countries to create more equitable transportation systems.  Two of the most notable initiatives– the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework in the United States – including Executive Order 13985 Advancing Equity in Infrastructure” and Justice 40 Initiative (Executive Order 14008) -- which aims to deliver 40% of the overall benefits in climate and clean energy, including sustainable transportation to disadvantaged communities.

Additionally, the Mobilizing Justice” collaborative in Canada which is the largest collaboration of its kind to study and address inequities in Canadian transportation systems – with a particular focus on transport poverty” – barriers to getting around for potentially millions of Canadians, combined with social and economic marginalization which limits their full participation in daily life.

Award Highlights

The desired outcome for the Innovation Challenge – is achieving equity-centered” sustainable mobility.   

  • Identification of winning local teams advancing to the Grand Innovation Challenge will be submitted to iyai+ on or before Wednesday, May 17, 2023.
  • Electronic submission of the Local Team National Judge Review Package (described in detail below) is due to iyai+’s National Office by Friday, June 9, 2023.   Attn:  Lewis (Tre”) Grisby, Iyai Program Director ([email protected]), with a copy to [email protected].  This Package will be transmitted to the national Judges.

Innovation Challenge Awards & Recognition

  • The 1st place team will receive $750 USD/team member
  • The 2nd place team will receive $250 USD/team member

Communications Awards.

  • Two (2) $1000 USD Awards for Local Team Communications, Outreach, and Social Media

The Grand Innovation Winning Teams, all Grand Innovation Participants and Local Team Participants will be recognized at the June 28th Program Recognition/Awards Program.

General Innovation Challenge Evaluation Categories: 

General Innovation Challenge Evaluation Categories are broadly stated below All Innovation topics will need to address one or more of the following broad categories.

Provide greater equity in accessibility and affordability to mobility that improves access to opportunities and daily necessities, with particular attention to more vulnerable groups of the population who need it most, marginalized/at-risk high-needs communities and priority populations; and areas/populations with documented historic inequities in access and affordability, i.e., the disability community and universal access.

Result in greener transportation options that reduce overall negative environmental impacts (reduce, reuse, and recycle -- including life cycle considerations and future needs; GHG reduction and air quality improvements), i.e., low and zero-emission, energy efficient, affordable modes of transport and supporting infrastructure – including electric and alternative – fuel vehicles; more robust supply chains and freight movement; greater domestic self-sufficiency; and supportive land use,  housing policies and choices are an example of important interdependencies.

Actionable, innovative people-readiness” and workforce development” strategies, programs and plans specifically focused on addressing current workforce shortages in essential” high needs positions and projected career growth areas -- with emphasis on attracting, recruiting, hiring, and retaining a diverse, quality workforce.

Innovative use of data and identification of important data gaps”, improving ready access to useful information that enhances data analytics and critical thinking, use of new technologies that improve the transport/mobility network for all users; projects that advance proficiency in digitalization, computing, and cybersecurity hygiene practices – major 21stcentury workplace and workforce game changers – that are also critical to eliminating the digital divide”.

Collaborative, cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary approaches, and recommendations that reduce disparities, promote fairness, and foster expanded opportunities for all people and communities (improve safety, enhance efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of overall public service delivery).

Provide greater transparency, ready and affordable access to public information re:  transport/sustainable mobility career, educational, and training opportunities – “jobs” and business” opportunities – with the overarching objective to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion” and expand career opportunities.

Meaningfully engage and expand citizen/community participation – including meaningful youth voice” -- in all phases of project planning, design, implementation, and evaluation that is focused on reducing/eliminating disparities.


Each Local Team Challenge Entry must include:

Write this section in third person, meaning you should not use the words I’ or We’ or Me. Instead, talk about yourself objectively using 'he' or 'she'.

  • Team/Project Name and Logo
  • Team Members’ Contact Data, i.e., names, e-mails, age, city of residence
  • A high resolution shot and brief Profile of Team Members  
  • Electronic submission of a 3-minute maximum smartphone video; and accompanying Abstract (maximum 3 pages) which clearly identifies the proposed equity-centered sustainable mobility Innovation” – including the overarching Purpose (need, value and benefits); major risk/mitigation considerations; Next Steps - implementation (operationalization) plans; proposed performance measures/metrics; and replicability and scale; speed of implementation potential.

The virtual Innovation Challenge event live” Team Presentations will be a total of 30 minutes, include Team Member introductions; a 6-10 minute maximum pitch”; and allow time for a 10-minute Question & Answer period by the national Judges.  

additional information

All Innovation Teams should plan to prepare and present in such a way that they address the following key elements.

  • Articulate how the innovation/proposal aligns with the Innovation Challenge – considering the Innovation Evaluation Categories broadly stated above.
  • Describe what the innovation is and how it is filling a need/gap in the “local” area -- particularly for underserved groups and vulnerable communities. 
  • Describe the impact (“value”) of the proposed initiative/innovation(s) on sustainable mobility considering the UN Sustainability Goals, and the Local Organizer’s respective national/local area sustainability and equity objectives; meaningful performance measures and metrics.
  • Explain how the innovation is utilizing best available transport/mobility data (critical thinking and analysis), incorporates proficiency in digitalization, computing, information, and new technologies – including important cybersecurity/hygiene considerations (as applicable).
  • Risk (“SWOC”) Assessment:  Identify major areas of risk and associated mitigation strategies.
  • NEXT STEPS:  Share your thinking and planning to date re: the scalability, speed, cost estimates to pilot proof of concept; and proposed Next Steps.  From your perspective – how can your Local Sponsor/others in your area -- best assist Next Steps.

Communications, Outreach, Social Media Local “TEAM” Awards.  There are two (2) separate Award categories for best effort.

Both are TEAM AWARDS – and will have a monetary value of at least $1,000 each.

  • Category 1:  The Local Team that most “actively utilized Social media, and creatively shared their Program Experiences/Stories – working in coordination with Iyai’s National Office.   
  • Category 2:  The Local Team submitting the best Plan of Action for interacting, sharing knowledge, building, and maintaining their professional/personal relationships and networks “beyond the Program”.
  •  Electronic submission of Team Award Applications for the Communications, Outreach, Social Media Categories are also due to Iyai’s national Office by Friday, June 9th.   Attn: Naomi Tepper, [email protected]; with a copy to [email protected].

Communications, Outreach, Social Media TEAM Award Winners will be announced at the Program Awards Recognition on June 28th.

Category 1:  The Local Team that most “actively utilized Social media, and creatively shared their Program Experiences/Stories – working in coordination with Iyai’s National Office.  

Category 2:  The Local Team submitting the best Plan of Action that lays out how they will continue interacting, sharing knowledge, building, and maintaining their professional/personal relationships and networks … “Beyond the Program”

Iyai/Transportation-Research Board Sponsored Webinar Series

In November 2022, iyai+ applied to TRB (National Academies of Sciences) for sponsorship of a 3-part Webinar Career Series (iyai+ selected the topics and speakers) that would be available to our program participants and to a national audience, at NO COST.  We were successful – and are extremely appreciative of TRBs support.

TRB REGISTRATION is REQUIRED to participate in the live” stream webinar series and receive a link to the recorded session.

Please personally register and attend these webinars – and ensure that your youth participants register/view each of these sessions!  It is a Program expectation that ALL youth participating in the Program view these webinars.  

The first webinar is on Wednesday, February 8, 2023, from 1:00 – 2:30 pm EST.

Please feel free to begin sharing this URL to promote it:

Webinar Series Schedule:

  • February 8, 2023 (1:00 pm – 2:30 pm EST)
    “The Future Transportation Workforce is Happening NOW!”
  • February 22, 2023 (1:00 pm – 2:30 pm)
    “Sustainable Mobility:  New and Expanding Opportunities”
  • March 22, 2023 (1:00 pm – 2:30 pm)
    “Transportation Equity:  Community-Building in Action”

Critical Conversations on Transportation Workplace (Local Focus Groups – youth; transport management and labor)

Proactively building on the Career Awareness element of the Program, each local Sponsor will identify a focus group of participating youth (est. 10-15 locally)  to collaborate with industry professionals (management and labor),  to share their insights and perceptions re:  the challenges, barriers, and potential opportunities they see in successfully attracting, selecting, promoting, and retaining a diverse transport/mobility workforce (all” positions) – with priority on essential” hard to fill positions and future areas of projected career growth.

Data from these important sessions will be collected and synthesized to identify major themes re:  barriers, challenges, and opportunities for youth to join the transport sector/mobility careers.  iyai+ will publish open-access results from these sessions – and other input received during the Program.

Results of this quantitative and qualitative data analyses will inform a 2024 iyai+ “Future Workplace and Workforce Summit and Youth Challenge”. 

Planning for these local sessions is an important element of the overall Program.  The Critical Conversations” local sessions are planned to commence during National Transportation Week (May 19, 2023) – and conclude in June.

Program Assessment

iyai+ will prepare a Program Evaluation Report – which includes input from the youth Program participants and Local Organizer Advisory Committee members. In addition to qualitative results, iyai+ administers and incorporates the results of anonymous Surveys of youth participants during the first month and at the conclusion of its Programming.

Impact During and Beyond the Program.    Tracking participants over time and assessing both immediate and longer-term Program Impact(s) is always challenging.  And particularly so – for programming that is not part of a traditional educational/employer job-readiness program.  What we know from our work and that of others is that going deeper” with youth – beyond a one time event” makes a big difference!  Other key differentiators --    making the connection between work” and meaningful community outcomes”; exposing youth to directly relevant job-readiness” preparation – including real workers”; professional and personal relationship and network building -- with “Buddies/Guides” (mentors) – including exposure to career and life skills, “SMEs” (knowledgeable content” and informational resources), Professional Associations/Community Networks/VIPs; and helping to seed”  important “peer-peer” professional/personal development networks – ALL help to maintain contact and access to better information regarding Program impacts beyond the immediate” program period. 

Program Goals and Outcomes

  • Increase Participant Knowledge of Transport/Sustainable Mobility Careers
  • Increase Participant Interest in a Transport Sector/Sustainable Mobility Career
  • Make the “Community-Building” Connection between Transport/Sustainable Mobility Careers and the Opportunity to Positively Impact Outcomes for People/Households, Society
  • Actively Engage Participants in Addressing Important Local Transport/Sustainable Mobility Challenges 
  • Build/Strengthen Professional and Personal Relationships and Networks 
  • Strengthen Participant Life Success Skills – including building professional and personal relationships and networks that provide exposure and access to career information, resources, and future opportunities.

Iyai “Community-Builder” virtual Internships

Local youth participants who successfully complete the Program will be eligible to apply for two paid” virtual iyai+ “Community Builder” internships that will be competitively selected for the period September 2023 – March 2024; stipend range of $22.00 - $25.00 USD/hour; est. 10 hours max./weekly.

In 2020, with the support of HDR, iyai+ established this paid” internship opportunity in recognition of the extraordinary lifetime of civic activism and public service of the late Dr. Juanita Jones-Abernathy (Founding iyai+ Board member), a historic civil rights leader together with her spouse, the late Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, Dr. Martin Luther Kings mentor and partner in the U.S. civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.  

iyai+My Beloved Community” program element elevates the criticality of active youth engagement and voice” in addressing solutions that advance equity-centered solutions for ALL people and communities – with emphasis on our most vulnerable, historically-under-represented, and marginalized.

The application period for these virtual” Internships will be July/August 2023.