National lending organization helps working families move up the economic ladder by providing loans for affordable, reliable cars, financial education and hands-on support.
Milwaukee, Wisc., April 26, 2010 – The Walmart Foundation has awarded nonprofit lending organization Ways to Work, Inc. a $2 million grant to expand its program offering low-interest auto loans to working families. As a result, Ways to Work expects to add 10 offices around the country and provide reliable transportation and financial literacy tools to thousands of families.
The grant from the Walmart Foundation comes as new research shows borrowers using the program have improved their credit scores by double digits, not just during the program, but even years after their loan repayment period has ended. (Read the study here.) This is significant, especially considering recent improvements in our nation’s economy that have yet to reach many low-income borrowers.
“This grant will result in thousands of additional families who will receive millions of dollars in loans,” said Ways to Work CEO Peter B. Goldberg. “The communities that receive funding to add or bolster a program will be chosen over the next year by a competitive process.”
A program evaluation shows that the families using the program will increase their earnings over time by more than $14 million. In addition, families will avoid up to $4 million in predatory interest charges and fees over the course of the grant period, according to Goldberg. These figures are provided by the OMG Center for Collaborative Learning, an independent, nonprofit research and consulting organization.
“Often what stands in the way of a person’s success at work is having reliable transportation, and we’re proud to support Ways to Work as they help people move past that barrier,” said Margaret McKenna, president of the Walmart Foundation. “This grant reinforces our commitment to strengthening organizations that are finding innovative ways to help people live better."
Ways to Work partners with local nonprofit agencies around the country to provide low-interest loans, financial education, and support to working families who are committed to repairing their credit status, moving up in the workforce and gaining a higher level of self-sufficiency. Clients use the loans primarily to purchase reliable, used cars to help them retain or move ahead in their jobs, reduce lateness and absenteeism at work, access additional education or job training and meet their family’s needs, such as transporting children to child care, doctor’s appointments and school activities.
A new Credit Score Impact Study, also conducted by the OMG Center for Collaborative Learning, shows that borrowers using the program improve their credit scores, not just during the program, but even after the loan repayment period. The study shows, for example, that borrowers from 2001-2002 have – as a group – improved their credit scores by nearly 34 points by 2007-2008. And participants from 2002-2003 saw their scores jump by 35 points.
“We’re excited by the results of this study,” said Jeff Faulkner, president of Ways to Work. “It shows that Ways to Work not only helps qualified, low-income people get a reliable vehicle and get to work, it also helps them make meaningful, long-term changes in their financial status.”
Over the past 13 years, Ways to Work has loaned more than $38 million to more than 14,000 families, with a repayment rate of 90.5 percent. More information about the national Ways to Work program and the Credit Score Impact Study is available at www.waystowork.org.
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About Ways to Work, Inc.
Milwaukee-based Ways to Work is a unique, federally-certified Community Development Financial Institution. Through a network of loan offices across the country, the Ways to Work program weaves focused financial education with short-term, low-interest loans to serve working poor families with challenging credit histories. Clients use the loans primarily to purchase reliable, used cars to help them retain or move ahead in their jobs, reduce lateness and absenteeism at work, access additional education or job training and meet their family’s needs.
About Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support the charitable causes that are important to customers and associates in their own neighborhoods. The Walmart Foundation funds initiatives focused on education, workforce development, economic opportunity, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness. From Feb. 1, 2009 through Jan. 31, 2010, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave more than $512 million in cash and in-kind gifts globally, $467 million of which was donated in the U.S. To learn more, visit www.walmartfoundation.org.
Editor’s Note: Reporters who are interested in interviewing a borrower who has benefited from Ways to Work services, please contact Tanika Davis at 301-656-0348 or firstname.lastname@example.org.