A place to live, a mode of transportation, someone to look after your children when you’re at work, access to education.
These four essential resources are difficult to come by for underemployed, homeless single mothers. For many North Texas women, this is unfortunately their reality. Collin County Mobility Collaborative (CCMC) was created in 2017 by Toyota’s Community Impact Initiative as a response to this issue.
With the support of four nonprofits in the area – Agape Resource & Assistance Center, Family Promise of Collin County, Hope’s Door New Beginning Center and Shiloh Place McKinney, CCMC is an initiative that works to help single-mother families get on their feet. Through the services offered, each woman transitions from crisis into sustainable independence.
Many women that enter into the program are in domestic violence situations, but feel they have no place to go because their sole income is not enough to provide for them and their children. Some resort to homelessness. But through CCMC, each woman can attain necessary resources, making her capable of providing for her family on her own.
“We work together with each organization as a collaboration,” Christine Ortega, interim executive director at CCMC, said. “The women come to us through one of the organizations they’re working with, and we provide guidance and a safety net.”
Each woman that qualifies to enter the program receives a stable housing environment with financial assistance, transportation issues addressed, childcare assistance and an education plan.
“I never would have been able to turn things around like I did. I wouldn’t have the job I have without them. I wouldn’t have gotten that extra piece of education. I wouldn’t have been able to put my kids in daycare. It was an amazing program, having the guidance there along the way to accomplish things,” said Lori, a CCMC graduate.
Toyota’s Funding Helps Moms Go Places
CCMC is possible through a $1 million grant provided by Toyota in the summer of 2017, and the interim executive director, Christine, is also contracted under that grant. The grant was originally supposed to last only two years, but was extended because funding has not yet run out. There is a strong possibility that CCMC will eventually gain nonprofit status.
“When Toyota first came to North Texas, we met with a lot of local community leaders to get an understanding of what the community was like, where there were gaps and opportunities,” said Robyn Johnston, manager of strategic partnerships and social innovation at Toyota.
Positively impacting the community around them is a core tenet for Toyota. It is not a small part of Toyota’s business model, but viewed as one of the most important components. In an effort to ensure the company is serving Collin County in the most effective and helpful way, it partnered with United Way from the start and continues to utilize United Way’s expertise.
“What I have learned while working at Toyota is that giving back to the community is an expected part of the work we do. Executives expect it; team members expect it. It’s who we are as a company,” Robyn said.
A Group Effort is Key to Sustainable Success
The effort has been truly collaborative. “The four-pronged approach aligned more similarly with some of the agencies than others. We have some agencies that shelter, while others offer transitional living. CCMC is focused toward breaking the cycle of homelessness by increasing the head of household income through education,” Christine said. “But through strategic work, we’ve figured out how we can all work together effectively.”
To help facilitate collaboration, the agencies structured an executive committee that makes decisions in terms of connecting a woman to CCMC. When one of the four nonprofits believes a woman they’re serving would benefit from the program, they have her apply if she is interested. The committee reviews applications that come in from each agency and makes the decision to approve them or not.
“When families come through Family Promise and they have a need that we can’t meet long-term, I recommend them to the CCMC committee,” said Christen Myers, a case manager at Family Promise of Collin County. “Then, together we look at the certifications available, what they’re interested in and then other needs like transportation and childcare.”
Throughout the process, Toyota has been conducting a social impact study to understand the sustainability of CCMC. Part of this is staying connected with each woman even after she graduates from the program.
“I’ve been very impressed. Toyota has stayed engaged, checking in regularly. They really do care about North Texas, and the issue of homelessness,” Christine said. “Having that support from a corporation is incredible, just knowing that they’re all in and trying to understand the needs in the community.”
The team at Toyota stays involved with CCMC through quarterly meetings and by supporting the families in various ways.
“We make investments in the mothers’ educations. We created a scholarship program for them. We also continue to support the families with back-to-school supplies and gifts around the holidays,” Robyn said. “We just want to provide all the resources we can for these moms and kids.”
For the 29 women who have participated in the program so far, it appears that the program does work on a sustainable level. Even when COVID-19 hit and many of the women experienced unemployment, they were able to bounce back much more quickly than they would have beforehand. CCMC stepped in to offer each of them assistance as they dealt with the pandemic. After just five months, all the women who had lost jobs were employed again.
“When COVID hit, my [work] hours dropped down to 30 a week; CCMC and Family Promise worked together to offer me assistance to keep up with my house,” Lori said.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, Lori is still doing well. She can support her family, has time to spend with her kids, has a car to get around, loves her neighborhood and has peace of mind knowing she is safe and in a stable living environment.
“I don’t get a lot of luck come my way. I don’t know if it was a luck thing or an angel on my shoulder, but I’m extremely blessed to have CCMC. My life would have taken a different path. Everything fell right into place. God knew what He was doing,” said Lori.Collin County Mobility Collaborative >