How important is a car to success on the job?
Plenty, Family Matters of Greater Washington thinks.
Through a partnership with Wal-Mart and PNC Bank, and backed in part by a federal grant, the local nonprofit has teamed with a Milwaukee-based charity called Ways to Work to give 200 poor families up to $6,000 to buy a used car.
Program officials said they believe access to a car helps struggling families cut down on absences from work and allows them to spend more time at home.
“I had a client say she almost lost her job not because she was bad but because she couldn’t get there,” said Tonya Jackson Smallwood, chief executive of Family Matters of Greater Washington, which piloted the effort in the District last year. “From an employment perspective, 94 percent of our clients end up maintaining or improving on the job. More than two-thirds cite that their absenteeism has been reduced.”