Urban Land Conservancy celebrates the achievements of our partnerships that create and preserve nonprofit facilities and affordable housing for communities.
ULC’s Monthly Partner Spotlight shines a light on partners who demonstrate the value of collaboration, furthering our mission to improve the lives of Metro Denver residents and beyond through our real estate investments and community assets.
Congratulations to our March 2021 Partner Spotlight of the Month:
What started, in 1997, with a few neighborhood friends in Boulder who wanted to reduce their environmental impact by sharing ownership of a car has grown into one of the country’s first nonprofit Electric Vehicle (EV) carshare programs. Colorado CarShare’s mission is to empower communities to live a car-free lifestyle and positively impact their health, wealth, and shared environment. They aim to make Colorado a “cooler,” healthier, and more socially equitable place to live.
The organization received 501(c)3 status in 2006 and has continued growing and expanding throughout Colorado ever since. In 2020, they changed their name from eGo CarShare to Colorado CarShare to better reflect their roots and Colorado-focus.
Guided by core values of transportation equity, sustainability, community, and reduction of carbon emissions and traffic, Colorado CarShare makes it easier for individuals to live without owning a personal vehicle. Members have 24/7 access to their fleet of neighborhood-based vehicles while CarShare takes care of gas (or electricity!), insurance, parking, and maintenance. Members can book a car within 15 minutes of needing one with the lowest hourly rates for car-sharing anywhere in the country. Colorado CarShare is excellent for those who wish to reduce their carbon footprint, who commute using public transit, walking, bicycling, or other alternative modes, or who want to reduce their transportation costs.
Driven by a community-focused approach, Colorado CarShare centers on making a positive environmental impact while promoting access for individuals from a diverse socio-economic background.
“We noticed that the larger, for-profit car-sharing companies were not serving the communities that need them most,” said Peter Krahenbuhl, Colorado CarShare’s Executive Director and CEO. “We’ve extended our reach and partnerships with low- to mixed-income neighborhoods to provide car-sharing services as well as mobility-related education and outreach.”
Colorado CarShare’s emphasis on social equity, combined with its commitment to environmental stewardship, means that the organization can mitigate climate change in a way that improves people’s financial health and quality of life.
The carsharing business has not been without challenges, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the introduction of ride-hail companies, like Lyft and Uber, Colorado CarShare has focused on highlighting what sets them apart.
“In 2017, we sat down and took a constructive look at our nonprofit,” said Krahenbuhl. “We figured out where we excelled and refined our mission to focus on two things: social equity and electrification.”
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Colorado CarShare lost a majority of its revenue overnight. Upon receiving some recovery grants to keep them going, the nonprofit immediately gave back to the community, including car share credits and subsidies for low-income individuals, essential workers, seniors, and others most affected by the pandemic. And rather than remain stagnant during a downtime period, Colorado CarShare upgraded the entire fleets’ hardware, restructured, rebranded, and prioritized community partnerships.
In August, Denver allocated $300,000 of federal CARES Act funding to support the deployment of seven electric carshare vehicles and the necessary charging infrastructure in under-resourced communities to improve local mobility options for residents. In partnership with Denver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency (CASR). The City and Colorado Carshare worked closely with Denver Housing Authority and Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) in late 2020 to identify potential sites located in under-resourced communities that would benefit many surrounding residents, and where shared EVs would complement other mobility options.
In February of 2021, CASR announced the addition of seven electric car-share vehicles in six-under-resourced communities in Denver and subsidized memberships for at least 450 residents in those areas. Colorado CarShare manages the program. ULC and Colorado CarShare installed a charging station and car share at ULC’s Mountain View Nonprofit Tower in early 2021, a building full of nonprofits tenants and clients who will significantly benefit from subsidized carsharing.
“We were thrilled to solidify our first electric charging station and carshare partnership with Colorado CarShare,” said Aaron Martinez, ULC’s Sustainability and Facilities Manager. “We hope this will be a catalyst for more shared electric vehicle charging stations at more of ULC’s properties and communities around Denver.”
Car sharing not only gives more freedom to individuals, but it also encourages social distancing not always possible on public transit. Colorado CarShare’s vehicles are only used by a few other individuals each day, so the risk of spreading COVID-19 decreases compared to public transportation. In addition, Colorado CarShare has increased cleaning measures.
As Colorado CarShare looks to the future, Krahenbuhl hopes to continue growing partnerships while serving as an example of a thriving local nonprofit carshare. The organization will continue to expand in Colorado, emphasizing commuter hubs like Lousiville and Longmont and electrified certification in rural communities.
To read more about Colorado CarShare or become a member, visit their website here. If you are a tenant at ULC’s Mountain View Nonprofit Center, you qualify for a discounted rate. To learn more, click here.