SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Community Foundation of the Ozarks announced its “Let’s Get to Work Fund” Wednesday morning.
The fund will support both workers and job seekers who are facing transportation problems that make it hard for them to get hired or keep their current jobs.
With a $350,000 commitment from CFO and other donors, such as the O’Reilly’s putting up another $25,000 in anticipated commitments, the fund will support both the employed and unemployed in a couple of different ways according to a press release.
The fund will provide support for both employed and unemployed individuals through two avenues:
•Nonprofits that work with clients who identify transportation issues as impeding their ability to get and keep jobs can access funds through the CFO’s grant application process on CFO’s grant application website.
•Businesses also will be able to access funds to support workers facing transportation challenges through a partnership with United Way of the Ozarks and the Springfield Business Development Corporation, a nonprofit subsidiary of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.
Residential eligibility for this funding will cover the 14-county area of southwest Missouri where the service areas of the CFO and United Way of the Ozarks overlap: Barry, Christian, Dallas, Douglas, Greene, Hickory, Laclede, Lawrence, Polk, Stone, Taney, Texas, Webster and Wright counties.
Funds can be used for needs such as car repairs, new tires, gasoline cards, licensing fees or taxes, transportation services such as bus passes, ride-sharing services, taxis, purchase or repair of bikes/e-bikes, or vehicle purchase down payments.
Lauren Madison says the fund would benefit her as she spends about $100 per paycheck for taxi rides to get to work, which makes saving up for a vehicle difficult. Lauren even said that when she had a car, the cost of gas versus how much she had to drive in and out of town for work was a huge chunk of change with gas prices, “Say you’re making $10 an hour and you need to get to work…and you’re putting out more money for gas than you make working…” makes things difficult, Lauren said.
In the five-county metro area (Greene, Christian, Webster, Polk, Dallas) unemployment is hitting a near-historic low with nearly 4,000 fewer people in the local workforce since July. According to CFO President Brian Fogle, “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to lift individuals and families economically, reduce poverty, and thereby enhance the quality of life for so many in our region if we can lower barriers to enter the workforce,”
According to an online job search on Indeed, there are around 11,500 current job openings in Greene County.