During Toyota’s grand opening celebration last week, they also celebrated the Collin County Mobility Collaboration as the recipients of the first $1 million Toyota Impact grant. The grant challenged up to five local nonprofits to come together and address mobility issues in the community.
Over the next two years, the four nonprofits of the CCMC - Hope’s Door New Beginning Center, Shiloh’s Place, Agape Resources and Assistance Center and Family Promise of Collin County - will use their grant money to assist homeless women and their family into a more stable environment.
“We’ve come together as one to be able to provide this service. And it kind of fit into Toyota’s theme of being One Toyota,” said Jim Malatich, president of Hope’s Door New Beginning Center.
The CCMC’s plan addresses mobility in four ways: education, transportation, housing and childcare. Education is a crucial part of the two-year grants. Most of the CCMC’s clients are homeless women who are the heads of their households and the educational arm of the grant allows women to go back to school, get certified or pursue a trade to help them build a more sustainable career.
In six months, women can become certified trade welders and start earning up to $37,000 a year for themselves and their families. Other careers like dental hygienist or medical assistant require less than a year of schooling before making money to support a family, Malatich said.
“What we’ve done is look at what’s out there and how can we break that gender thinking. They’ll say, ‘That’s a man’s job.’ Well, not necessarily,” he said. “It’s rather than getting them a job, which they already can get. It’s how to help them build a career and the career will take you a long way.”
Transportation is also a large piece of their four-part plan. It’s no secret, he said, that public transportation in Collin County is limited. There are few options that allow residents to travel between cities for appointments, interviews or child care. Many heads of household have their own vehicles so they’re not at the mercy of the buses, he said, to get to a new job, to school or to daycare.
Part of the grant will allow women to get their own transportation or improve their current vehicles so they’re more reliable, either through new tires, oil changes, new batteries and more.
The plan also offers temporary housing for a minimum 40 heads of households over two years. As the grant covers rent and utilities for families, women have about a year to save up enough money to build up their savings, and hopefully transfer the name of the household into their name so they can build credit for the future.
Janet Collinsworth, founder and executive director of Agape said access to safe, affordable housing is one of the consistent barriers homeless mothers face,” so the first thing we do is we establish a mom and her kids in a safe, secure housing and then we begin to work on what it takes for her to take over that responsibility for herself,” she said.
The grant would also cover childcare and early childhood education so parents can go back to school or go to work and have that freedom to go to different places. The childcare arm also offers counseling for the children as well as parenting classes and counseling for the parents.
At Thursday night’s reception, the representatives from all four nonprofits received a round of applause from an audience of Toyota officials, local representatives and city officials.
“To see the response and have people that you don’t even know coming up and congratulating you at the reception at Toyota was just an amazing thing, just to see the community support,” Malatich said. “It was just as exhilarating as can be.”
Collinsworth said, “it’s great news, but it’s also scary. It’s a fabulous opportunity to launch some system change initiatives…but the scary part comes because there’s a lot of expectations.” Though each team has proven success in their individual programs, each nonprofits is offering several of their personal resources to make this project possible. “But the grant itself, the way we wrote it, was so that we will always continue to be collaborators,” she said.
For the next two years, Toyota, United Way and the CCMC are “going to be family” through consistent collaboration, which Malatich said has been a great process.
“We know that it’s going to be a task and it’s going to take a lot of work. I think the key ingredient is we don’t compete with each other as agencies, so there’s not any posturing. The thing that we keep looking at: it’s all about the service and client that we’re going to be serving. It’s been fun. It’s really been fun,” Malatich said.