A Brighter Financial Future: New Partnership to Make Transportation Costs Visible

A Brighter Financial Future: New Partnership to Make Transportation Costs Visible

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By Pam Moore, Transportation Options Program Director

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Cally Ingebritson, Financial Capability Manager at Prepare + Prosper.

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Recognizing that transportation is an unmet basic need for many low-income Minnesotans, TLC’s Transportation Options program addresses the high cost of getting around by combining workshops for social service staff and one-on-one assistance for low-income participants. To date, TLC is partnered with three community-based organizations to work with individuals and families via coaching and financial assistance. These participants are all motivated to move toward economic self-sufficiency and are open to utilizing affordable transportation options—such as biking, walking, transit, car sharing, and bike sharing—to get there.

Our newest Transportation Options partner organization is Prepare + Prosper in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Recently, we followed-up with Prepare + Prosper’s Financial Capability Manager, Cally Ingebritson, to get her take on this partnership and how it fits with her organization’s ongoing work to help move Minnesotans out of poverty.

TLC: Tell us about the mission of Prepare + Prosper. Who do you serve?

CI: Prepare + Prosper is a robust and multifaceted organization focused on economic justice and financial capability. Working with more than 550 volunteers, our work is about leveraging the “money moment” of tax time to help more than 13,000 households work toward a brighter financial future. With the support of staff, our volunteers are the core of our ability to provide these services in our community each year.

We continue to grow as an organization and currently I lead our new volunteer-based financial coaching program, Money Mentors. Money Mentors is a volunteer-based financial coaching program in which we aim to help participants boost savings, eliminate debt, and improve credit. We are in the first year of launching this program. The decision to start Money Mentors came after offering free tax preparation and financial services for over 40 years as we wanted to grow as an organization to help the community with their financial goals in a deeper way.

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Financial coaches and mentees in Prepare + Prosper’s Money Mentors program.

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TLC: Why were you interested in attending a Transportation Options workshop? What were your key takeaways from the workshop personally and professionally?

CI: Personally, I became much more aware of and enthusiastic about the numerous transportation options available in the Twin Cities after attending a Transportation Options workshop. I was even inspired to become a Nice Ride member and have begun walking to work. Hopefully this new habit keeps up over the winter! I have told many people about the training I attended at TLC! Recently I attended a concert at the Target Center and my friend, girlfriend, and I chose to use Nice Ride bikes instead of driving and paying for parking. Afterward my friend told me, “Riding the bikes through downtown Minneapolis was almost as fun as the concert!”

Professionally, I saw the benefit of partnering with Transit for Livable Communities through sharing this information with the volunteer financial coaches I supervise and encouraging them to pass this information along to our participants. We also altered some of the financial coaching activities we lead with our participants to discuss transportation more directly. No longer should transportation be an invisible, unspoken expense—it should be viewed as part of everybody’s overall financial life.

TLC: Share the value you see in partnering with the Transportation Options program. What impact do you expect it will have for your participants?

CI: By attending Transportation Options, I was motivated to have TLC train our volunteer financial coaches. Through TLC’s hands-on, interactive training our volunteers learned how the various transportation systems work in the Twin Cities. Our goal is to send five participants to TLC to receive additional support to make new transportation options a regular habit and save money in the process. The coach who referred our first participant to TLC has discussed saving money and using light rail, bus, bike, or some combination of these.

 

All featured photos are courtesy of Prepare + Prosper.

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