April 12, 2021 at 11:58PM

Three heavy hitters in different verticals have announced a program aimed at increasing access to vaccines. On Monday (April 12), Walgreens, Uber and PayPal stated that they had donated a combined total of $11 million to the Vaccine Access Fund, which is to be used to give people in underserved communities free rides to Walgreens in order to get vaccinated. The group is also asking members of the public to donate to the cause.

While corporate generosity has been flourishing during the pandemic — helping to boost corporate profiles and get people using their services — this announcement is notable because of a unique donation feature.

Uber has brought PayPal front and center into its app to enable easy donations. According to the company, when users open either the main Uber app or the Uber Eats app, there will be a message prompting them to donate to the fund. In our tests, that message is currently absent, but the press release announcing the program says it will be enabled on Monday and that donations will go to the PayPal Giving Fund – the company’s nonprofit arm – and then subsequently to the Vaccine Access Fund.

LISC, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, will manage the program on a community level around the country. LISC collects public and private cash and then uses it to connect services in local communities to improve the lives of the residents who live there.

In a letter to the White House, the CEOs of each company said that their initiative was launched in response to the current administration’s call for corporations to get involved in the pandemic response. “Leveraging the ridesharing technology of the Uber platform, the seamless digital payment and donation experience on PayPal Giving Fund, the extensive reach of Walgreens pharmacies and the deep community roots of LISC, the Vaccine Access Fund will draw on the innovative tools developed by our respective firms to expand vaccine access and build upon the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts,” said the letter.

The new program dovetails with Biden’s own initiative to help get vaccines to underserved communities, which was launched in February. That effort, called the Federally Qualified Health Center Program, involved the shipping of vaccines directly to community health centers in those communities.

In addition to donations through the Uber app, the coalition has also enabled donations through Uber’s website as well as PayPal’s.

The new effort is separate from an announcement in February that PayPal was creating a $5 million fund to provide free or discounted rides during the pandemic. It is also separate from Uber’s announcement last year that it was providing up to 10 million free rides to help with transportation to vaccine sites.

According to the American Public Transportation Association, 45 percent of Americans do not have access to public transport, so initiatives like these can fill a vital gap in terms of getting people to vaccine sites in communities where car ownership is not prevalent.

Pandemic Partnership: Uber, Walgreens And PayPal Unite Over Vaccine Distribution …

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