Examples from the Field

In 2012-2013, seven communities built local partnerships and applied the design thinking approach to exploring the job access transportation needs of their communities and develop new ideas for solving those needs. The challenges tackled were as unique as the communities themselves and included meeting the job access needs of low-wage residents in a suburban setting, supporting high school graduates in extremely rural communities in reaching higher education, linking low-wage urban residents with employers in an industrial park, and improving mobility options for people with disabilities and older adults.

Solving Back-to-Work Challenges

The following three profiles share how the seven teams identified specific solutions in response back-to-work access challenges.  Each community represents a distinct geographic area, specific target population, and different levels of partnership involvement.  For more information about the process and resources, visit the Back-to-Work Toolkit.

Coastal Bend, Texas

Members of the Coastal Bend team used the design thinking process to improve access to education and training opportunities within their communities. With outstanding community support, the team implemented a shuttle service so that high school students from an extremely rural area could attend a week-long career academy that introduced them to potential careers in the emergency response field. Media days provided an opportunity to educate community leaders about the experience. Read more.

Marin County, California

The Marin County team used the design thinking process to address the late night commuter needs of low-income workers traveling. The team’s work created job opportunities for individuals living in homeless shelters, expanded late night transit services, encouraged a local community college to enhance ridesharing opportunities for students, and garnered agency support for continued partnering among team members. Read more.

Northeast Iowa

Team members from this rural region used the design thinking process to design affordable transportation options to better serve low-wage workers traveling long distances to jobs. Their efforts resulted in an image make-over for the local transit agency, a website providing information on all available transportation options within the community, a proposed flex route serving two major highway corridors, and shuttle service to a low-income housing complex. Read more.