By Allison Osberg, MN Green Corps Member (TLC)
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Transportation Options workshop attendees visiting Cycles for Change in Saint Paul.
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Transit for Livable Communities is excited to announce the expansion of our Transportation Options program!
Having started as a pilot in the spring of 2013, the program is now expanding from train-the-trainer workshops to a collaborative approach that integrates financial assistance, financial coaching, and transportation consulting for low-income families and individuals.
In partnership with social service organizations and financial opportunity centers, the full model of Transportation Options will engage individuals looking to save on transportation expenses and will offer support in using transportation options that, alone, may be more difficult to understand, access, or embrace.
This expansion is made possible in part by the Otto Bremer Foundation, the Saint Paul Foundation, and the F.R. Bigelow Foundation. Sincere thanks to these generous funders.
As part of the expansion, Pamela Moore joins TLC in the new role of Transportation Options Program Manager. Pamela brings 22 years of experience with program conceptualization, development, implementation, coordination, and management. Her professional and volunteer background includes working in community-based agencies, philanthropic organizations, and educational institutions. She is also a member of the Major Taylor Bicycling Club of Minnesota. Welcome, Pam!
As we shared in a previous post, TLC launched the Transportation Options pilot program with a two-day train-the-trainer workshop for staff at Neighborhood House, a social service organization serving low-income residents throughout Saint Paul.
Our experiential workshop delivers direct-service staff the resources, knowledge, and experience they need to incorporate transportation options into their ongoing basic needs work. It reinforces that transit, biking, walking, bike sharing, and car sharing are not only realistic solutions to everyday transportation needs but integral options in the path to economic self-sufficiency.
There is no program I know of that addresses financial benefits of transportation so directly.
Eva Song Margolis, Director, Eastside Financial Center
This spring, staff at Project for Pride in Living and Eastside Financial Center completed the workshop as well, acquiring practical information about different transportation options, insight into their potential to improve a person’s economic well-being, health, sense of place, and range of opportunities all at once. These Transportation Options workshops will continue to be a cornerstone of the expanded program.
We are offering additional workshops this summer and fall. Contact us if your organization is interested!
With the expansion of our program, eligible organizations whose direct-service staff complete the Transportation Options workshop can refer their participants—the individuals and families they serve—to apply for a transportation consultant and financial assistance.
Transportation consultants will help participants accomplish their transportation and savings goals by assessing their individual needs, barriers, and values and by working with them directly to come up with a new route and routine that is affordable, convenient, and reliable.
Transportation is definitely a critical point in breaking the cycle of poverty.
Joan McDonough-Schlecht, Director of Programs, Basic Needs, Neighborhood House
Traditionally, financial assistance for transportation has been geared toward facilitating car ownership. For many people struggling to achieve economic self-sufficiency, however, this often proves unsustainable due to the high cost of operating and maintaining a vehicle. In contrast, the financial assistance now offered through our Transportation Options program helps participants purchase transit passes, car and bike sharing memberships, bicycles, trailers, and other related gear. With these resources, our goal is to foster transportation habits that will serve households and individuals well over the long-term.
In combination with experiential workshops for direct-service staff, new resources offered through our expanded program will help ensure transit, biking, walking, bike sharing, and car sharing are accessible and empowering options for low-income individuals and families.
Our approach builds on the results of surveys conducted in North Minneapolis in 2012. Through those surveys, TLC found that the largest barrier to transportation options is having financial access to them, and the second largest barrier is their perceived safety and convenience.
Through an innovative combination of financial assistance, experiential learning, and one-on-one support, we are working to make transportation options more accessible and empowering to populations that have historically been on the margins of transportation conversations, services, and benefits.
We’ll look forward to keeping you updated as our implementation of this new program continues.