I have been lucky to have a vehicle since I was old enough to drive. There have been a few times when I had car troubles and it was difficult to make due while the car was being repaired. But, some people do not have a car. While public transportation can get you some places, it can’t get you everywhere and not all cities have great public transportation systems. Today’s organization is working to make a difference.
There is research that links a number of factors suggesting that inadequate transportation hinders a welfare recipients’ ability to seek and keep employment. The Surface Transportation Policy Project cites the following findings: the Welfare to Work Partnership found the most significant barrier to employment for their employees was transportation; a study by the Volpe Institute revealed that three of every five jobs suitable for welfare-to-work participants are not accessible by public transportation; and most metropolitan areas typically do not offer adequate services during second and third shift hours.
The Women with Drive Foundation was founded in 2010 by Molly Cantrell-Kraig to help fill that gap. Molly knew what it was like to struggle as a single mother. She spent twenty years learning the lessons of autonomy and self-sufficiency. She found many organizations that help women develop skills to be self-sufficient, but she only found a few organizations that provided reliable transportation to facilitate a woman’s independence. Molly had a vision for something bigger. She wanted to incorporate a two-year developmental journey alongside the distribution of a car to help empower women.
Women with Drive wishes to provide women with the literal and figurative vehicle to enable her to change her life. They do this by collaborating with private and public organizations that help them identify and strategically invest in women who have taken ownership of their choices and wish to transition off a life of welfare to a life of self-sufficiency. The organization currently is limited to the state of Iowa, but they do have plans to scale nationwide. They have already received requests to start chapters in the states of Washington, Minnesota, Illinois, Texas, and Oklahoma.
The organization taps existing resources within the community to help the participants access higher education, gain financial planning skills, learn interviewing and other life skills designed to empower her, her children and give her a new perspective about her capabilities. By removing the pressure of owning and maintaining a vehicle, the women helped by the organization have the energy to focus on elevating and empowering themselves. Molly stated, “Our goal is to ‘inoculate’ women against poverty. The mission of our organization will affect not only the primary participant (the woman who applies and receives a car), but her children will have witnessed their mother taking ownership and accountability of her choices. These children’s lives will have a different trajectory. Our goal is to contribute a very pragmatic and vital part of the capacity building process so that women can gain dignity, independence and live a meaningful life.”
How can you help?
- Women with Drive has several volunteer opportunities include social media administration, database management, newsletter composition, and general awareness building. They are also recruiting board members for 2013. You can contact them to learn more about specific opportunities.
- They are also seeking to partner with a university or college to provide a measurement model to track the return on the investments in their program.
- Donations of cash and cars are always welcome to continue their mission. You can learn more about making a donation on their website.
- You can also support them by making a purchase in their online store.