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Four surprising ways Vehicles for Change programs may help you!

Four surprising ways Vehicles for Change programs may help you!

Do you know how Vehicles for Change programs can help families with affordable vehicles and repairs?  Are you looking for a high-demand career helping others ensure their vehicles are reliable?  These Vehicles for Change programs may surprise you!

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Who is Vehicles for Change?

They are the largest affordable car ownership non-profit program in the United States!  They serve families in Maryland and North Virginia. Their mission is to help families have access to employment, education, food, and recreation all through affordable vehicles.

How do the Vehicles for Change programs work?

There are four ways the Vehicles for Change programs help provide affordable transportation:  awarding cars to families, job training, repair and training centers, and retail used-car lots.

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Awarding cars to families

Since 1999, Vehicles for Change programs have helped provide nearly 7000 vehicles to families in Maryland and North Virginia.  These vehicles in turn help provide families with better employment opportunities and financial stability.  Vehicles for Change programs guarantees their low-interest loans!

Sponsoring agencies in Maryland and North Virginia determine eligibility and refer families to Vehicles for Change programs.  There may be income and benefit requirements for each agency.

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Job training

One way Vehicles for Change programs can help communities is through the Full Circle training program.  Far beyond typical vocational training, it provides paid internships for men and women following incarceration.  Interns receive Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) training with master mechanics and one-on-one mentorship.  The program has seen a nearly zero return to incarceration for participants, and has provided stable employment for nearly 200 men and women. Interns have gone on to work at repair shops, dealerships, national chains, and more.  A partnership with the Maryland Transit Administration is creating opportunities for Full Circle graduates to work with the agency’s bus fleet.

How do I qualify for a Full Circle internship?

Requirements for the Full Circle Auto Repair program include:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Ability to obtain driver’s license
  • Basic automotive mechanical knowledge
  • Ability to attend training by 7am Monday through Friday

Full Circle Repair and Training Center

The Full Circle Repair and Training Center has five locations throughout Maryland.  These are staffed with Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified mechanics and can provide many affordable services to keep your vehicle on the road.  You do not have to be a recipient of a Vehicles for Change programs car or involved in their employment program to bring your vehicle for service.  They may be able to provide services such as:

  • replace battery
  • rotate tires
  • oil & fluid changes
  • electronic systems repair
  • A/C repair
  • brake repair
  • inspections
  • suspension repair
  • hose replacement
  • steering repair
  • roadside assistance

The Full Circle Repair and Training Center also performs assessments and repairs on donated vehicles to prepare them to be awarded to eligible families!  You can contact the centers at the following Maryland locations for appointments:  Halethorpe, Elkridge, Waverly, Pen Lucy, and Guilford.

Freedom Wheels

Freedom Wheels is the used car outlet where donated cars may be sold to the public at low cost.  The lot is located in Halethorpe, Maryland and also carries their used vehicle inventory online.  Vehicles for Change programs may use Freedom Wheels to sell some higher-end or luxury donated vehicles to use the funds to provide more affordable vehicles for eligible families and individuals.  All vehicles are inspected and warrantied, and most have a 3-day/150-mile buyback guarantee!

How do I get a car from Vehicles for Change programs?

Eligibility requirements depend on individual sponsor agencies who refer families to Vehicles for Change if qualified.  Below are some basic requirements for possible candidates:

  • Maryland or North Virginia resident
  • Referral by a sponsoring agency
  • Current employment of at least 30 hours per week or verifiable job offer
  • State driver’s license
  • Insurable (no driving under the influence charges)
  • No other vehicle in the household
  • Drug free
  • Ability to pay taxes, tags, and title fees
  • Must have children if under the age of 25
  • Any additional eligibility requirements per sponsoring agency

You may also qualify if you are aging out of the foster care system, if you have received benefits from the Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) program in the past year, or if you have been a non-custodial parent of a TCA recipient. 

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More information may be found at the sponsoring agencies resource.

Paying for the car

If you are awarded a car, Vehicles for Change programs guarantee a low-rate loan regardless of your credit history!  Vehicles cost approximately $950, with a monthly payment of around $90.  The cars come with a six-month/6,000 warranty after being inspected and repaired by ASE-certified mechanics!

Have a vehicle you don’t need anymore?  Vehicles for Change programs are non-profit, so your donations may be tax deductible!  Your donation can help in many ways: providing transportation to get to a job, for kids to get to school, allowing families to participate in extra-curricular activities and sports, getting to medical appointments, ensuring transportation to get food and supplies, and more!  Local donations may be picked up by a tow truck for delivery to the Vehicles for Change programs.

Steps to donating your car!

First, contact Vehicles for Change to arrange a pickup if local.  You can contact them at 855-820-7990, or email at [email protected].  They will arrange a tow truck once you’ve scheduled a time and have prepared your vehicle.

  • Remove personal belongings
  • Sign title as the seller
  • List Vehicles for Change as the buyer
  • Obtain vehicle lien release if needed
  • Remove license tags and return to DMV
  • Cancel insurance

What happens to my donated vehicle?

Your donated vehicle may either be used by Vehicles for Change programs as an award vehicle, or possibly sold by Freedom Wheels to provide funds for award cars.  Most award vehicles are 15 years old or less with less than 150,000 miles to maximize reliability for recipients.  High end and luxury vehicles often are more expensive to repair and their sale at Freedom Wheels would maximize their value to the program.  You may be able to claim the full fair market value of your donation if it is awarded to a family!

More transportation help resources!

We’ve covered how Vehicles for Change programs can help with providing vehicles, affordable financing, job and training opportunities, and affordable repairs!  We have more car repair resources for you!

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After 27 years in law enforcement and state Veterans Affairs agencies, I found myself working from home and looking for dollar-stretching resources. Government programs can be notoriously difficult to navigate and I'm happy to lend my experiences to make this easier for others!