SOURCE: Ways to Work

Ways to Work

December 21, 2011 13:29 ET

2011 Donation Brings Walmart Foundation's Support for Ways to Work® Program to $4 Million

Proven Success and Impact of National Nonprofit Helps Spur on Foundation Support and Significant Growth and Expansion

MILWAUKEE, WI--(Marketwire - Dec 21, 2011) - Ways to Work®, a unique Community Development Financial Institution that provides affordable loans to working families with challenging credit histories, announced today that they received a second $2 million commitment from the Walmart Foundation for program expansion. This brings the total donation from the Walmart Foundation to $4 million, a figure that reflects the significant impact, success and return on investment that Ways to Work has achieved since its original grant in late 2009.

Thanks to the support of the Walmart Foundation and other funders, Ways to Work funded $10 million in loans during 2010-2011, helping 2,300 families purchase a pre-owned vehicle to help meet their employment and family needs.

Ways to Work partners with local, nonprofit, family-serving agencies that are members of the Alliance for Children and Families. Together, Ways to Work and its partner agencies provide low-interest loans, financial education, and support to working families who are committed to improving their credit status, moving up in the workforce and gaining a higher level of self-sufficiency. Clients use the loans primarily to purchase reliable, pre-owned cars to help them retain jobs or move ahead in their careers, reduce tardiness and absenteeism at work, access additional education or job training and meet their families' needs, such as access to child care, doctors' appointments and school activities.

"The Walmart Foundation is pleased to continue our support of this innovative program which has shown proven, replicable results," noted Michelle Gilliard, a senior director at the Walmart Foundation and co-chair of the National Advisory Council for Ways to Work. "We have seen the impact that reliable transportation can have on a low-to-moderate-income family. For many, it can open doors to more gainful employment, better childcare and a higher standard of living," she added.

The support from the Walmart Foundation and others made it possible for Ways to Work to open 26 new offices in 2010-2011, including launching or expanding existing programs this year in Atlanta (2 new programs); Chicago (4 new programs); Albany, N.Y.; Lynchburg, Va.; Portland, Ore.; San Mateo, Calif.; Dade County, Fla.; Pittsburgh; Detroit; Westland, Mich.; Nashville; and three suburban counties around Milwaukee, Wis. The new grant will help fund an additional 20 offices which will open across the nation in 2012-2013, helping serve an estimated 2,000 additional families each year.

Shamika Anderson, a single mother from Milwaukee, is one of the people who benefited from the program in 2011. "Before the program, I worked as a school bus driver, which meant I had to put my child on a bus every day by 4:30 a.m. in order to make it to work by 6:30 a.m. Ways to Work helped me secure a car loan and manage a budget so I could pay off my debt. As a result, I was able to get a job with better hours and higher pay. My credit score has improved and I just enrolled in a bachelor's program at DeVry University."

In addition to the Walmart Foundation, other significant 2011 donors included the CDFI Fund, which provided a grant of $1 million and the Kresge Foundation, which provided $375,000 as part of a challenge grant that totaled $1.5 million.

Susan N. Dreyfus, secretary of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, who will become the president and CEO of the Alliance for Children and Families and CEO of Ways to Work on Jan. 2, 2012, noted: "We appreciate the support from Walmart Foundation, CDFI Fund and Kresge Foundation, which is helping us grow rapidly to meet the demand from working families across the nation. To date, Ways to Work has helped nearly 30,000 families improve their lives with the support of more than $60 million in loans. This tremendous, ongoing support from both the private and public sectors positions us for continued growth and delivery of our services where the need is greatest."

Follow Ways to Work on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ways-to-Work-Inc/182070716883.

About Ways to Work
Ways to Work is a unique Community Development Financial Institution based in Milwaukee. Through a network of more than 50 loan offices across the country, Ways to Work provides financial education and small, short-term, low-interest loans to working families with challenging credit histories. Most clients use their loan to purchase a reliable pre-owned vehicle to enhance their ability to remain engaged in the workforce and better manage their lives. The program provides an alternative to predatory lending for people with a demonstrated commitment to achieving increased self-sufficiency and who are intent on pursuing a higher degree of success in mainstream financial markets. All agencies that operate the program are members of the Alliance for Children and Families, a sister company to Ways to Work. Both companies are part of the Families International, Inc. group of companies based in Milwaukee, Wis. For more information, please visit www.WaystoWork.org.

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