5 key takeaways from our KEY Program’s first year

Our KEY (Keys to Empowering Yourself) Program started when we and our community partners recognized a need our Mobility Program simply wasn’t meeting. We needed to come up with a way to serve the most vulnerable -- meaning those who are not yet employed or under-employed -- and help them get on the path to true financial stability. Clients in the KEY Program include those looking for jobs, those without consistent employment history, victims fleeing domestic violence, individuals who have been recently incarcerated, and students.

In this provisional transportation program, clients are able to purchase vehicles on a one-year loan while receiving intensive financial coaching. This allows clients to find employment, gain job stability and financial skills, and accumulate savings. The vehicles we provide are typically older and have a higher mileage than the vehicles in Mobility Program, but are thoroughly inspected and some even are still under warranty. After the year has passed, our KEY Program clients graduate into our Mobility Program (and into a newer car), and the older car goes to another KEY Program client.

We’ve just completed our first year of the KEY Program, and we are blown away by the results. Here are our key takeaways from the first year:

1. You can’t get the job if you can’t get to the job interview.

As an organization, we talk a lot about employment and transportation. Usually we focus on the fact that most jobs aren’t accessible by public transportation. And the numbers back us up: Less than 15% of the jobs in our community are accessible on mass transit, which only serves 8% of our region’s land area. With the KEY program, we’re not focused on shortening long commutes, we’re focused on getting to that interview in the first place. Having reliable transportation means our KEY participants can interview at the best jobs that are best suited for them.

2. Our first ten enrollees are doing great!

Out of the 10 inaugural KEY Program clients, four have graduated into our Mobility Program and their vehicles are now with new KEY enrollees. One client has returned her vehicle after deciding to go back to college, while another has decided to keep the KEY car. The remaining four are still in the program (and their vehicles) and getting ready to move into our Mobility Program. We’re incredibly proud of the program’s first 10 participants!

3. The most common vehicle was a 6-year-old Toyota Camry (and other cool stats).

We thought we’d give you some other numbers from our first year. Since the program began, we’ve helped more than 50 low- to moderate-income people in Texas. While the average age of participants is 37, we’ve seen a wide range from age 20 to 62. The majority of KEY enrollees are women, topping 79% of participants in year one!

4. Our clients are paying on time!

We were extremely encouraged to learn that the on-time payment performance of our KEY clients is even better than that of our Mobility Program -- 84% has never had a late payment!

5. We couldn’t have done it without our funders.

We’re truly grateful to our funders, who not only generously helped make this program a  reality, but also helped make it a success in its first year. A big HUGE thank you to:

  • ORIX Foundation

  • State Farm Foundation

  • Carl B. and Florence E. King Foundation

  • Communities Foundation of Texas

Your support means you believe in our community as much as we do and recognize reliable, affordable transportation leads to better jobs and better lives!