SOURCE: Ways to Work

Ways to Work

March 14, 2012 10:53 ET

Ways to Work Program Helps Families Retain and Improve Job Status and Offers Taxpayers a Significant Return on Investment According to Independent Evaluation

Nonprofit Loan Program Helps Families Move Beyond Poverty Through Access to Reliable Transportation and Financial Counseling

MILWAUKEE, WI--(Marketwire - Mar 14, 2012) - Data released today by ICF International, a Fairfax, Va.-based consulting group, found that Ways to Work®, a unique Community Development Financial Institution that provides affordable loans to working families with challenging credit histories, provides a strong return on investment and is highly successful in helping families retain and improve their job status and quality of life.

Ways to Work partners with local, nonprofit, family-serving agencies across the country that are members of the Alliance for Children and Families. Together, these community-based human services agencies and their Ways to Work programs provide low-interest loans, financial education, case management, and other engagement 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 childcare, doctors' appointments and school activities.

The study, which examined families helped between 2007 and 2010, found that more than half of those in the program increased their income and 94 percent improved their employment circumstances as a result of the loan. More than one-quarter credited the program for helping them increase their educational attainment. A significant percentage (82%) of participants were able to move off of public welfare programs, saving the federal government $18.2 million annually in reduced public assistance and higher tax revenue. Analysts calculate the return on investment for the program at 250 percent, or $2.50 for every $1 invested.

"We have a proven program that works," noted Susan N. Dreyfus, president and CEO of the Alliance for Children and Families and CEO of Ways to Work. "Alliance for Children and Families agencies that are operating Ways to Work programs are helping underemployed families who are living in poverty truly be on a pathway to self-sufficiency. We will be working tirelessly to develop the partnerships necessary to expand Ways to Work to all 50 states."

"The Walmart Foundation is pleased to support 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.

"I was in a rut that I couldn't get out of -- each time I would take steps to move forward and dig myself out of that ditch, but then my car would break down. I ended up owing more money than I was taking in, and I would find myself right back in that hole again," noted single mother of three Leanette Watkins from Madison Heights, Va. "Ways to Work helped me find an affordable used car and get to work on time. I was able to turn a temporary job into a career and double my salary."

To view a live stream of the event, please visit: http://video.vdat.com/playmedia_embed2.asp?sid=154679&aid=156053.

A full copy of the evaluation report can be found at www.waystowork.org.

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About Ways to Work
Ways to Work is a unique community-based economic empowerment program based in Milwaukee. Through a network of more than 50 loan offices across the country, Ways to Work provides financial education and 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. For more information, please visit www.WaystoWork.org.

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