Courtesy of Uber.

Uber wants to bring 1,000 jobs to Pittsburgh within the next year.

On May 11, the ride-sharing company launched UberUP, or Uber’s Urban Partnership, an initiative to connect neighborhoods lacking in transportation with entrepreneurial opportunities.

The goals of the program are twofold, says Jennifer Krusius, general manager for Uber Pittsburgh. “On the rider side, we’ve heard feedback that the transportation infrastructure is lacking. Cabs don’t go to every neighborhood, and public transportation is adequate but limited,” she says. “And we have the current need for drivers, and there are people looking for jobs,” Krusius says.

Uber drivers in the Pittsburgh area earn between $20 and $30 per hour after training and a background check.

The first step? To map out neighborhoods’ transportation needs based on economic data and current access.

Uber’s collaboration with local organizations – including The Heinz Endowments, Design Center Pittsburgh, Global Pittsburgh, The Center for Women and The Kingsley Association – will help identify target areas, says Chris Koch, CEO of Design Center Pittsburgh.

“For example, in the Hill District, there is bus service on Centre Avenue, but then you get toward Bedford Avenue and there is no longer service,” she says. And even though Port Authority is hoping to restore service to certain neighborhoods, Pittsburgh’s geography also makes it difficult for buses to navigate some city streets, she adds.

Uber’s local partners will also assist the company with finding the best places to hold several upcoming workshops for residents to learn more about becoming Uber drivers, using the Uber app and even getting a driver’s license if necessary, says Koch.

“We’re encouraging Uber to hold regional events in different parts of the city so people in these neighborhoods would be more likely to come out,” she says.

At a launch event on May 11, two current local drivers told an audience of about 30 that they liked Uber’s flexible schedule and would recommend the job – one that currently attracts students, single parents, retirees and veterans – to their friends and family.

On the national level, Uber is collaborating with inner-city economic authority and strategy nonprofit The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC). Together they hope to reach thousands of urban residents through similar events with plans of recruiting 50,000 drivers in urban communities across the east coast.

“Many of our communities struggle with issues of connectivity, disconnection from job centers and transportation options for that ‘last mile.’ Our partnership with Uber expands a transportation solution that creates jobs for residents in our region,” says Koch.

Laurie Bailey is a freelance writer who has reported for many local publications. When she isn't writing she serves as a media consultant for nonprofits and other local companies.