By Debbie Gregory.
Uber has reached its goal of signing up 50,000 U.S. veterans as drivers. And to celebrate, the company is making a very generous donation to a number of veterans groups.
Uber is giving $1 million to a select few military organizations, including our friends at Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) and Homes for our Troops. Also receiving funds will be the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. The funding comes directly from Uber, based on recommendations from the company’s UberMilitary Advisory Board, which includes former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
September, 2014 saw the launch of UberMilitary, giving former service members an opportunity to earn a flexible income. One of the goals of the campaign was to work with veterans and “empower them as entrepreneurs and small business owners.” Nearly half of the veterans who have signed up have started driving with the company, and Uber said it’s now focused on “getting more folks on the road.”
Emil Michael, senior vice president, spent stints in public service as a White House fellow and as an aide to Gates. After seeing how difficult it was for some veterans to find jobs upon leaving the armed forces, Michael said, he saw how Uber could fill a need.
“The thing that was missing was an income-earning opportunity that was extremely flexible,” Michael said. “When you come back, maybe you’re studying for your next degree, maybe you have medical issues.”
In addition to getting more veterans driving, the company is building a special savings program that will offer expanded and unique rewards to members of the UberMilitary community.
Uber also hopes to broaden its service to military passengers, and is possibly going to launch a program that will pay more to drivers will when they start or end a trip at a military base.