Ways to Work is a national community lending organization (headquartered in Milwaukee) that offers low-to- moderate-income families access to low-cost loans to purchase or repair a pre-owned vehicle needed to meet job demands while raising children. The program was made possible in part by financial support from the Walmart Foundation.
“With as many as one in six Americans living in poverty, and the ranks of the unemployed and underemployed growing every day, families are fighting to hold onto their jobs and maintain a decent quality of life,” said Jennifer de Montmollin, chief program officer, economic empowerment, at the YWCA Southeast Wisconsin. “Ways to Work provides access to affordable loans for reliable transportation that can help individuals keep both their work-life and job-life stable.”
The program is available to families in need of a reliable vehicle whose credit rating does not allow for a traditional loan or rather, one provided at a very high interest rate. It is an alternative to predatory lenders who target local families struggling to get ahead.
Ways to Work, Inc. currently operates over 44 sites in 22 states. To date, the program has helped nearly 34,500 families access more than $71 million in affordable loans. The program also provides focused financial education, credit repair guidance and individual coaching that helps families become financially capable and self-sufficient. The majority of Ways to Work loan recipients are single mothers who make multiple stops throughout the day in order to transport children to and from childcare, commute to and from work, and secure basic necessities for their families.
More than 94 percent of program participants report their Ways to Work car helps them maintain or improve their employment situation. Nearly half report an increase in earnings by 10% and many have experienced a mean credit score increase during the recent recession of up to 44.6 points. Most all borrowers acknowledge their Ways to Work car as a catalyst to quality family time and access to better childcare providers.
Additional funding support to help launch the Milwaukee program was provided by the Caterpillar Foundation, Guaranty Bank, Helen Bader Foundation, State Farm Insurance Foundation, and United Way of Greater Milwaukee.
For more information on the YWCA, Ways to Work, or the upcoming open house, visit www.ywcasew.org.