Atlas Corps Emerging Leaders Fellowship Program Gets a Lyft

With a little creative thinking, any nonprofit should be able to find a corporate sponsor aligned with its mission. Here’s how Atlas Corps did it.

The other day a Lyft rolled up in front of my job, wrapped in the colors of Peru’s flag and other cultural icons, helmed by a driver of Peruvian descent, draped in the same colors as the car. My assignment was to ride along to the Embassy of Peru while people stared – and more importantly while a corporate executive explained how this very distinctive car was helping Atlas Corps, a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening organizations, expanding cultural understanding, and developing a worldwide network of emerging leaders.

Given its international focus and D.C. base, Atlas Corps has a natural interest in Passport DC, a 31-day celebration of the city’s diplomatic community and vibrant and varied cultures. As Passport DC’s official rideshare partner, Lyft “shows riders the world” from the backseat of a car from its fleet of internationally inspired vehicles – a nod to the countries most represented by Lyft’s DC-area drivers. Each car is steered by a driver who originally hails from that country, with a backseat chockablock with flags, informational brochures, and other giveaways.

Mission, Message and Mutual Benefit

From May 4-6, Lyft donated $1 from each Passport DC ride to support the Atlas Corps Fellowship Program, which has engaged more than 600 emerging leaders from 88 countries in 6 to 18-month fellowships in 220 organizations across the United States since 2006. These rising leaders return to their home countries to work in the nonprofit sector for at least one year and share the new skills, best practices, and valuable experiences they gained with a global network of changemakers. Independent Sector members are among the Atlas Corps host organizations, including American Express Foundation, Echoing Green, IBM, and InterAction.

How did Atlas Corps come to be mixed in this alchemy of rideshares and appreciation of DC’s diplomatic community and cultures?

It was a bit of kismet, as Abby Robinson, Chief Development and Engagement Officer of Atlas Corps, explained:

“Worlds collided at the perfect time! Atlas Corps is a network of global leaders. Lyft operates in numerous countries around the world and is highlighting this dynamic international event. Our nonprofit-corporate partnership is an excellent example of two entities combining strengths in a mutually beneficial way,” Robinson said.

Calling itself a “force for good,” Lyft also saw the partnership as an opportunity to join forces with a nonprofit to help them raise funds and mobilize more supporters.

“Lyft was thrilled to partner with Atlas Corps for Passport Mode, building connections between passengers and drivers in celebration of our international community here in DC,” said Steve Taylor, Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager for Lyft. “Each Passport Mode ride provided us a chance to build awareness of Atlas Corps’ mission with our passengers, and support the organization’s important work to develop a strong global network of nonprofit professionals.”

Abby says other nonprofits should consider the advantages of a nonprofit-corporate partnership.  “Opportunities like these enable the partners to leverage their unique skills and information sharing within distinct target markets, multiplying each other’s messages and offerings.”

To learn more about Atlas Corps and its Fellowship Program, or to be a host organization, reach out to Abby at

Types: Blog
Global Topics: International and Foreign Affairs, IS Member, Leadership Development, Organizational Relationships