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Memphis Daily News
Martin Meets Latest Challenge With ‘Umph’
February 8, 2018
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

It has been said that the difference between try and triumph is that little “umph.” If there was ever anyone that shows just what a difference that makes, it is Jay Martin, president of Juice Plus. He puts that “umph” in everything he does.

While that trait has catapulted his business into the success it is today, it is the “umph” that Martin puts into his love for Memphis and his passion for helping ensure a strong Memphis workforce that led to his latest venture, My City Rides, a nonprofit he started to provide an affordable, reliable and practical way for Memphians of limited means to get to and from work.

Martin comes from a long line of educators. His grandfather was a superintendent of schools who rode horseback as he traveled around the rural areas of North Carolina checking on the schools. In Martin’s first job, he was a teacher and the school’s bus driver. He talked to me about the difficulty he encountered when the weather was bad, and how children would miss school for days if the roads were impassable. He understands that sometimes people ride on hope, and if there is no ride, then sometimes there is no hope.

So, Martin decided to do what he loves doing: providing hope to others through his strategic vision – in this case, getting folks a ride to work so that they can live their dreams. Through his support of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis he started the Job Seekers program that helps train, motivate and prepare Boys & Girls Club graduates to find meaningful jobs. The program is a success and their graduates are in demand, but another problem was uncovered.

“They were running into some significant challenges,” Martin said, “because people would graduate, get the job, and then not be able to get to work.”

Martin, in his usual entrepreneurial style, found a creative solution by partnering My City Rides with employers. Through My City Rides, the employers would offer motor scooters to employees who needed reliable transportation for as little as three dollars a day, about $100 a month, for three years. At the end of the three years the employee would own the scooter.

The employees who enter this program also receive a helmet, maintenance on the scooter, insurance, and safety and license courses. The scooters also give the people a sense of freedom and empowerment.

“If you want to solve a problem,” Martin said, “start at the bottom, where the problem is, with the people who have the problem.”

My City Rides is being field tested now to iron out the details and any kinks, while employers are being recruited to partner with the program and provide reliable, affordable transportation to their employees who need it.

Jay Martin, ever the strategic leader and fierce competitor, having played college basketball and run 14 New York marathons, takes his latest challenge in stride.

“I just like making things better for people,” he says in his warm, personal style.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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