Ways to Work Program Opens in Atlanta

Ways to Work Program Launch"We're excited to provide this service to hard-working people in Atlanta," said Kim Anderson, chief executive officer of Families First. "Having a car in Atlanta is not a luxury, it's often a necessity. In order to get and keep a job, you've got to be able to go to where job opportunities are located, show up on time and also juggle family responsibilities."

"Public transportation in Atlanta can't always meet the location or scheduling needs of struggling families," added Gary Miller, CEO of JF&CS.  "In addition, paying off the car loan helps families improve their credit record, which is a critical step in attaining financial stability."

Qualified applicants must be employed and meet income guidelines set for each community. Ways to Work clients lack - or have poor - credit histories and are ineligible for loans through banks and other mainstream financial institutions. This innovative program helps these applicants avoid high-cost loans or predatory lenders and requires them to take a financial education course as part of the loan process. Ways to Work staff members guide applicants through the loan application process and provide financial counseling on budgeting, credit ratings and financial planning. They also help clients find reliable used cars.

"Ways to Work operates differently than many low-to-moderate income car programs," said Jeff Faulkner, president of Ways to Work. "We believe strongly in our approach of making loans for cars, not in just giving cars away.  The act of repaying a loan gives our clients sound financial habits, reinforces personal responsibility and helps them to build a payment history and improve their credit rating. Owning an affordable car can make a tremendous difference in the job prospects, quality of life and future aspirations of a working family." A recent national evaluation of Ways to Work showed the program results in strong income gains for borrowers.  The evaluation found that working families with low-cost loans to purchase used cars achieved a 41 percent average increase in take-home pay. A majority of those Ways to Work borrowers eventually accessed mainstream financial markets. More than 80 percent of Ways to Work customers reported that owning a car helped them hold onto a job and reduce tardiness. A large majority said having a car had improved their quality of life and helped them provide a better daycare situation for their children. And in the past 10 years, Ways to Work has attained a strong repayment rate, with more than 87 percent of loan funds having been successfully repaid.

Families First, a leading family service agency, and JF&CS, a provider of health, career and human services to both Jewish and non-Jewish Atlantans, are able to offer this program through the generous support of the following local funders: Alliance for Children and Families; Annie E. Casey Foundation; Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation; the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta; the Walmart Foundation; the Wilbur and Hilda Glenn Family Foundation; Tull Charitable Foundation; United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta; Waterfall Foundation, Inc., and Ways to Work, Inc.

Since its founding in 1984, the Ways to Work program has loaned more than $44.6 million to more than 25,800 families for the purchase of vehicles, vehicle repair or other work-related purposes.

Ways to Work is affiliated with the Alliance for Children and Families, a national nonprofit organization representing more than 350 child and family service organization. It has received important financial support from The McKnight Foundation and other foundations; the federal government, especially the Federal Transit Administration; and major private companies, including Bank of America.

For information on partnering with, or supporting, the local office of Ways to Work, please contact Families First or Jewish Family & Career Services. To learn more about national Ways to Work and where it operates, or to read the national evaluation, please visit: www.waystowork.org

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Families First is Georgia's leading non-profit family service agency, serving metro Atlanta for 120 years. We assist over 40,000 of Georgia's children and families each year. Our mission is to ensure the success of children in jeopardy by empowering families. Families First fosters strong communities by delivering comprehensive and sustainable solutions for children and families -- solutions that improve child well-being and family self-sufficiency. For more information, please visit www.familiesfirst.org. Contact Katrina George, Marketing and Communications Manager at 404-853-2820 or kgeorge@familiesfirst.org

Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS) is a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization that offers a variety of programs and services to people in metro Atlanta, providing tools for living to individuals and families of all ages and needs.  Having provided social services to the greater Atlanta community for 120 years, JF&CS has grown to serve more than 30,000 individuals annually.  The agency currently manages more than 40 programs without regard to age, race, religion, national origin or ability to pay.  For more information, call 770.677.9300 or go to www.YourToolsForLiving.org.  The main office is located at 4549 Chamblee Dunwoody Road in Atlanta.

Ways to Work is a unique Community Development Financial Institution based in Milwaukee, WI. Through a network of loan offices across the country, Ways to Work provides small, short-term, low-interest loans to working poor families with challenging credit histories. The program provides an alternative to predatory lenders for people with a demonstrated commitment to achieving increased self-sufficiency and intent on pursuing a higher degree of success in mainstream financial markets.

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