Detroit Regional Chamber > Mackinac Policy Conference > Mobile Solutions Bring Access and Equity to Communities

Mobile Solutions Bring Access and Equity to Communities

June 1, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Mobility is an amplifier. It helps existing problem-solvers be nimbler and more effective.
  • Mobility is best when it’s in collaboration, not in isolation.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic forced rapid mobilization, but service providers are finding real value in expanding mobile access to communities.

As nonprofits scrambled to serve at-risk communities during the height of the pandemic, many turned to mobile solutions. A few years on, mobile services have remained valuable outreach tools for things like children’s play, medical and dental clinics, and pet care. That was the conclusion of the “Increasing Equity and Quality of Living Through Mobile Solutions” panel held on Thursday, June 1, at the 2023 Mackinac Policy Conference.

Moderator Margaret Trimer, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Delta Dental, began the session by discussing her organization’s work by offering dentists in low-income neighborhoods access to Ford Transit vans equipped with everything they need for a mobile dental clinic. “Mobile solutions is not a new concept,” she said. “But innovation around mobility is. We have big missions, big innovations, and big challenges we’re bringing to the table.”

Joe Provenzano, the Director of Mobility and Volunteerism at the Ford Fund, noted that nearly 6 million people per year miss medical appointments because they don’t have access to reliable transportation. He and the other panelists have spent the last few years streamlining their mobile solutions. They all found that their mobile services were most effective when community input and cross-organizational cooperation were implemented.

“It’s not just the vehicle or the service,” said Provenzano. “It’s building relationships and understanding community. Mobility is an amplifier. You could have a lot of initiatives and programs, but when you add that layer of mobility solution and access and equity, you’re amplifying the outcomes.”

Matt Pepper, Chief Executive Officer of Michigan Humane, also noted that by working with organizations like Gleaners, which distributes food in Detroit, his mobile pet clinics could impact the whole health of a family. “Mobility is best when it’s in collaboration, not in isolation,” he said.

Maggie Lancaster, Chief Executive Officer of the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, agreed. The museum’s Kids Can Van shows up at block parties and festivals and partners with food distributors to add toys to area families’ food boxes. After all, she said, “Any type of partnership that can bring exposure for your organization— why not partner? Let’s go to them and share information in any way and any language we can.”


This Mackinac Policy Conference session was hosted by Delta Dental.