Field of Work: Improving the financial stability and health and well-being of vulnerable populations.
Problem Synopsis: For many low-income individuals, especially in rural areas, having a reliable car determines whether they can train for a job, take a child to a doctor, and get to work. However, many such individuals have poor credit scores. That means they must purchase unreliable cars at exorbitant interest rates, reinforcing poverty and its attendant poor health.
Synopsis of the Work: To break this cycle—and to become eligible to buy a car—clients of More Than Wheels attend classes that help them create budgets, improve their financial decision-making, raise their credit rating, and get out of debt. The classes also cover nutrition, health literacy, and smarter food purchasing. Once clients’ finances are stable and they show enough income to support a car payment, More Than Wheels helps them secure low-interest loans and purchase reliable, fuel-efficient cars.
Key Results: Since 2001, More Than Wheels has:
- Helped nearly 1,500 families in New England secure more than $15 million in low-interest loans so they can purchase cars
- Expanded clients’ knowledge of personal money management, improved their money management behaviors, and improved their credit scores
- Bolstered clients' mental health by reducing stress and increasing their self-confidence, according to program evaluators
- Improved clients' physical health by enabling them to obtain medical care and stay healthy by eating right
- Expanded partnerships to strengthen the program's services with banks and credit unions, and with businesses such as hospitals that cannot function if employees cannot get to work