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Oishei gives Buffalo CarShare $100,000 challenge grant

The John R. Oishei foundation gave Buffalo CarShare a $100,000 challenge grant to help double CarShare’s fleet of automobiles.

The nonprofit organization launched its “Get There” campaign Monday and hopes to raise $300,000 by 2015 to expand from 15 to 30 vehicles.

The new campaign aims to bring cars to neighborhoods that need the services the most – like the lower West Side, the Fruit Belt and parts of North Buffalo. This summer, CarShare hopes to raise $15,000 to put one car in each location.

“We find that we have a membership base that represents Buffalo as a whole,” said Creighton Randall, the organization’s executive director.

People opt to pay for their CarShare membership to live a “greener” lifestyle or to accomplish day-to-day tasks such as grocery shopping or getting to job interviews, he said. Randall emphasized that the organization focuses on social impact and the struggles faced by those who don’t own vehicles.

The organization serves nearly 600 members, half of whom live in households with annual incomes below or at $25,000. Sixty-six percent of its members don’t own vehicles.

The Oishei grant will be matched by local sponsors, or partners, to the car share program. Currently, Buffalo State College and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus are community partners with Buffalo CarShare. Buffalo State College supports two cars, which are also open to community use, on its campus.

The organization, which was founded in 2009, estimates that it has taken more than 200 cars off the road and thereby prevented the release of close to 350,000 pounds in carbon dioxide emissions. It is also piloting a bike-share program, with 75 bikes available.