One Detroiter is turning the problems of bullying on school buses into an opportunity for a new business, STEP-UP TRANSPORTATION.
Larry Cunningham founded the company six months ago and is preparing to launch it out of Detroit's riverfront district. Cunningham worked as a deputy for the Wayne County Sheriff's Dept for 27 years before retiring and becoming certified and working as a subsitute teacher at Detroit Public Schools. He hopes his idea of putting former police officers on school buses will make them safer and more enjoyable rides for all involved.
"The yellow school bus is my passion," Cunningham says. "I want to find ways to make it better."
STEP-UP TRANSPORTATION will employ retired law-enforcement trained bus drivers to transport students to and from school and field trips in a safe, non-threatening environment. In some cases they will serve as bus-aides for the regular school bus drivers.
"Having that person present helps," Cunningham says. "In the police academy you're trained for conflict resolution. There are a lot of different techniques."
Cunningham is working toward earning his MBA at Walsh College and is participating in the school's Blackstone LaunchPad
program. STEP-UP TRANSPORTATION currently employs Cunningham and his wife. He plans to launch the company with its first contract with Most Holy Trinity Elementary School in Corktown, providing safe bus transportation for field trips. He hopes to grow the service for other smaller charter and parachoial schools in the next year or two.
Source: Larry Cunningham, co-owner of STEP-UP TRANSPORTATION
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com