More Than Wheels

At a Glance

National Office: 
250 Commercial Street
Manchester, NH 03101
Phone: 866-455-2522

Terri Steingrebe
People Served: 
1,760
Year Founded: 
2001
Tax ID: 
02-0528886

Focus area(s):

Asset Development

See These Reports For More Information

Description

Founded in the Upper Valley of NH in 2001, More than Wheels (MTW) uses the enticement of a new, energy efficient car as the catalyst to provide vulnerable populations -- front-line health and community workers, victims of intimate-partner violence, immigrants and refugees, young adults, military families, single mothers, and individuals in recovery, among others -- the skills they need to improve their financial stability, as well as their overall health and well-being.

More Than Wheels provides behavioral counseling and credit repair guidance, conducts financial literacy classes, provides car selection expertise, and partially guarantees car loans at reasonable rates with financial institution partners for consumers who would not otherwise qualify for them.

MTW is the second largest Low Income Car Ownership Program in the U.S and has helped more than 1600 families to date, saving those families over $19.5m in transportation costs and 270,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.  Clients have increased their access to traditional banking and credit services, while reporting reduced mental and physical health issues, greater access to health care, and improved access to nutritious and affordable food

Impact and Outcomes

#1 for lowest default rates and long term behavioral change among Low Income Car Ownership Programs
66% increase in savings for clients
55% increase between pre- and post- financial literacy quizes
88% of all subprime and deep subprime clients making on time car payments
Average of 30% increase in credit score annually
75% of clients one year after the car loan have three or fewer negative items on their credit report, all of which have been addressed by them
81% of graduates comfortable doing business with a bank or credit union
93.5% of graduates report paying their bills on time

Mission & Goals

More Than Wheels addresses the economic issues of income opportunity and unemployment through transportation solutions. Important to this transformation is a philosophy that good financial decision making and good health require personal responsibility.  MTW services stress the importance of changing personal behaviors whether they are related to economic well being or healthy living.   The mission of MTW is to change the financial behavior of struggling individuals and families where transportation will make a long lasting impact to their overall economic self-sufficiency and contribute to improved health and well being and community sustainability.

More Than Wheels is built upon the theory that changing personal financial decision making, with the incentive of a reliable and affordable vehicle, leads to long term positive economic and health and well being benefits.

Program

The More Than Wheels Program consists of the following services:

Screening

More Than Wheels completed an analysis of 750 clients to better understand what the characteristics of successful clients are.  Based on this analysis, the screening process was modified to best evaluate the characteristics of WAMISuccessful clients have been shown to have: 1)  Willingness to make changes (open to making different financial decisions on their household budget); 2) Ability to read, write and do simple math or have access to someone to help them (they must repair all credit items themselves..with our guidance);  3) Motivation that extends past obtaining a car (educational aspirations, making their children proud, obtaining better employment); and 4) Initiative to do the work necessary to attend financial education classes, repair their credit, and prove they can make an on time car payment

Behavior Change Intervention

MTW client-facing employees have a unique blend of skills:  being able to read people at an emotional level, give praise and encouragement, tough love when warranted, and a shoulder to cry on from time to time. The skills and support for people who will almost always “fall off the wagon” are critical in attaining an intervention that will provide long-term success.  The “practice” of having to personally repair all negative credit items (with support and tools from More Than Wheels), and proving through a monthly saving requirement that an on-time car payment can be made enhances a client's new mode of decision making. Principals of successful behavior change such as frequent reinforcement of positive behaviors and patience with multiple relapses into former behaviors are important elements of this intervention.

Financial Education

Rather than espousing theories or high level advice, More Than Wheels' financial education program is practical and hands on, requiring completion of homework each week. It is a combination of lectures, templates and tools, and interactive participation with others in a similar situation.  Clients gain confidence and understand that they are “not alone”.  Each client must track their income and expenses daily for five weeks. New ways to go about decision making and understanding choices is stressed.  In the end only the MTW clients can control how they manage their money.  The program brings the entire family into the classroom – with an understanding that it takes the entire family to make a commitment to change the way they make financial decisions. In addition to the specific financial skills gained, clients gain a renewed sense of self-confidence that has taken a beating from the many collections calls and loss of financial freedom caused by poor credit.

Car Selection

Selecting the right car is critical to long term success.  The car selected must be reliable (new or certified used), and the car payment must include a warranty as part of the car payment. The quality of the car and incorporating as many costs as possible into the car payment is critical for success.  In the early stages of changing their financial decision-making, clients need the reliability of one payment that includes as many of the transportation costs as possible. The problem with using a $4,000 to $6,000 used car is that the repair costs must be saved for, which often can derail all of the work and expense of the behavior change intervention. Clients receive follow-up support for the life of the loan, including tracking credit score, and credit activity and offering additional counseling as needed.  If a client's financial situation has changed we assist them to get out of their car loan without damaging the work they have done on their credit. Having the right car makes all of this possible.

Impact

From More Than Wheels third party evaluation study December 2011:

"Clients who completed the More Than Wheels program reported statistically significant improvements
in a number of areas while they were in the program, from time of enrollment to program completion,
and for a longer period of time, from enrollment to post-completion, approximately six months or more
after they finished the program. Outcomes reported after they left the program could be evidence of
lasting change. In analyses of  clients' responses matched over time, the evaluation found that
clients who completed the program:

1. Increased their knowledge of personal money management.

  • Fin Fit financial fitness course test scores increased by 55% between pre- and post-test.

2. Improved their money management behaviors.

  • On average, clients reported an increase in regular savings activity of two-thirds (66%) between enrollment and program completion.
  • Clients reporting that they usually or always paid their bills on time increased, on average, by 13% between enrollment and program completion and by 31% between enrollment and post-completion.

3. Improved their financial credit scores.

  • Clients’ credit scores, obtained from national credit rating services, increased an average of 37 points, from 596 to 633.

4. Gained improved mental health, including reduced stress and increased self-confidence.

  • Clients reported a 52% decline in the number of days that their mental health was not good during the previous month, from 6.6 at enrollment to 3.2 days post-completion.

 

Growth Plan

More Than Wheels has a proven set of services and promising outcomes.  The scaling strategy is to embed these services in local agency programs and employer benefits programs, delivering the services through a distance consulting model by using the internet and video technology, and leveraging resources of partners to provide in kind support locally.

More Than Wheels is both a stand-alone program that builds consumer self-sufficiency as well as a service delivery system that can be integrated, actually embedded, into existing nonprofit organizations already serving vulnerable populations. These nonprofits, focused on asset building, education, and health and social service delivery, typically do not have a strategy to address serious transportation problems, problems that can actually derail their clients and their own employees from achieving self-sufficiency and health and well-being.  To enhance these nonprofit programs, leverage existing philanthropic investment, and reduce the overall cost of the service, More Than Wheels provides a joint program solution to address client and employee need for reliable transportation.  In collaboration with the “host” nonprofit, More Than Wheels delivers its services using internet/video technology.  More Than Wheels customizes its services to fit the local nonprofit culture, integrating the service into existing nonprofit programs, and broadening access to our services resulting in the serving a greater number of people in the community. 

More Than Wheels is using Skype and Web ex to meet with clients remotely, allowing greater access for clients.  This has directly impacted productivity by being able to serve clients in various cities with a skilled workforce centrally located in New Hampshire and Boston.  This will be expanded upon by a greater use of mobile technology.  More than half of our clients today have smart phones.  This trend is increasing.  A study by PEW research has shown that today 40% of 18-29 year olds have smart phones, and Hispanic and African American adoption is increasing with smart phones becoming an individual's only access to the internet. 

More Than Wheels is expanding its direct service capability across the states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine and expects to pilot an expansion outside of New England in 2013.  The organization expects to increase the number of clients served by 100% over the next two years, as well as:

  • Educate 2800 individuals in personal financial management
  • Provide 1,400 immediate family members with the benefits of reliable, affordable transportation by partially guaranteeing 780 new loans
  • Emitting 140,00 less tons of CO2 into the environment
  • Saving these families >$7M in transportation costs-including 1.3M gallons of gas

[1]PEW Internet and American Life Project Aaron Smith March 1 2012

Location of Sites

National Office: 
250 Commercial Street
Manchester, NH 03101
Phone: 866-455-2522
List of locationsMap of locations

To make a contribution to a program site:

  1. Click on the "Make a Contribution Now" button and include the name, city and state of the program you would like to support, in the "notes" text box on the organization's donation form, if available.
  2. If a "notes" or "designation" box is not available, write the city and state on your check in the "notes" section or call the national office to designate your contribution to a local program site.

Locations in the following states:

Massachusetts

Maine

New Hampshire

Financials

Most Recent Budget

Year Ended:

2012

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$45,000
Foundation Grants: 
$800,000
Government Funding: 
$0
Contributions from Individuals: 
$75,000
Special Events: 
$0
Program Services Fees: 
$360,000
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$0
Other Revenue: 
$0
Total Revenue: 
$1,280,000

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$930,000
Occupancy: 
$52,000
Travel & Entertainment: 
$6,000
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$20,000
Telephone & Communications: 
$48,000
Payments to Affiliates: 
$0
Other Expenses: 
$200,000
Other Expenses (Description): 

Other expenses include the maintenance of a fleet of vehicles used for temporary transportation for clients, audit fees, and consulting fees related to development activities,  and marketing and collateral materials.

Total Expenses: 
$1,256,000

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain/Loss: 
$24,000

Prior Year Actuals

Year Ended:

2011

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$35,000
Foundation Grants: 
$750,000
Government Funding: 
$0
Contributions from Individuals: 
$59,900
Program Services Fees: 
$328,000
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$0
Other Revenue: 
$0
Special Events: 
$0
Total Revenue: 
$1,172,900

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$1,039,000
Occupancy: 
$46,000
Travel & Entertainment: 
$41,000
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$22,000
Telephone & Communication: 
$36,000
Payments to Affiliates: 
$0
Other Expenses: 
$319,000
Other Expenses (Description): 

Other expenses include marketing and advertising costs, client management system costs, bad debt of loan defaults, and consulting costs including development consulting.  The majority of the other expenses are $150,000 for the management of our 70 Car Bridge car fleet of vehicles used for clients in danger of losing their jobs.  It includes the costs of drivers, maintenance of the vehicles, and the work to re-title the cars multiple times a year. 

Total Expenses: 
$1,503,000

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain / Loss: 
$-330,100

Major Funders

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Strategic Grant Partners

Smith Family Foundation

Bank of America

Citizens Bank

Sovereign Bank

TD Bank

Bean Foundation

NH Charitable Foundation

Lincoln Financial Foundation

Doby Foundation

Doree Taylor Foundation

United Ways across NH