Ways to Work is a unique Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and non-profit organization that provides social enterprise lending through a national network of loan offices. We provide small, short-term, low-interest loans to working poor families with challenging credit histories through character-based lending. This serves as an alternative to predatory lenders and provides a path for economic self-sufficiency.
- The WtW program model using everyday lending (mainly auto loans) to integrate three major
components within an innovative and holistic solution that addresses multiple needs of low-income
families to help them move out of their cycle of poverty and dependence towards greater financial
stability. The combination of affordable credit with real-world expectations for repayment, a
high-touch approach, and financial education generates intermediate outcomes - reliable auto
transportation, improved financial skills, repaired credit and asset building.
- As clients
leverage their increased transportation capacity and financial skills, they are shown to stabilize
their existing jobs or access better paying jobs, increase their income, improve care for their
children, and begin working with mainstream financial institutions. Together, these outcomes allow
families to begin moving towards self-sufficiency and an overall better quality of life.
The majority of the WtW borrowers fall within the following profile: 92% female with two-thirds being single, 70% of borrowers have fewer than 3 children, 60% of borrowers are African-American, 14% White, 6% Latino, and 20% other race, 50% of the borrowers have more than a high school education and 40% completed high school or obtained a GED, and 70% of the clients are over the age of 30.
- Economic Self-Sufficiency
- Borrowers average a 41% increase in income (take-home pay)
- 87% of borrowers remain without public cash assistance despite receiving it before
- 90% of borrowers report their WtW car allowed them to maintain or improve their employment circumstances
- 55% have found more responsibility or higher pay
- 50% of borrowers accessed further education or job training
- WtW clients show credit score improvement during and after the program
- Two-thirds of all borrowers have initiated a new account (checking, savings, credit card) or obtained a new loan
- An enhanced ability for getting children to school on time, for medical appointments, and access better child care services
Buying a mini-van has improved Georgina Castaņeda's family's life tremendously and she has been inspired to tell others about the program. Now that she has a reliable car, she saves two hours on her daily commute time and has increased her income by finding a full time job. In Georgina's words, "Life has become a lot easier." She finds the people at SMCU [San Mateo Credit Union] very helpful and with her higher income has opened savings accounts there for herself and her daughter, as well as an IRA. Thanks to the money she saved in her account, this past Christmas Georgina took her children on their first vacation ever ... to Disneyland. According to Georgina, "I always dreamed of taking the kids there but never would have thought I could do it alone. Thank you SMCU and Ways to Work -- you changed my life." Full Story