Tri-CAP - The DRIVE (Delivering Reliable Independent Vehicle Empowerment) Program


The DRIVE (Delivering Reliable Independent Vehicle Empowerment) Program offers multiple strategies to address the individual personal transportation needs of clients served. DRIVE was originally inspired by collaborative work from community stakeholders in the private non-profit, for-profit, and government sectors. The DRIVE Program combines donated vehicles, newer-used vehicles for lease, and limited vehicle repair assistance to help eligible residents maintain transportation self-sufficiency. Tri-CAP combines funding from Otto Bremer Foundation, The Getting to Work Grant, and Community Services Block Grant to make this assistance possible. As a part of the DRIVE Program, we receive donated vehicles and rely on generous community members choosing to donate their personal vehicles. Tri-CAP inspects the donated vehicle, using a local repair shop partner to make the needed safety repairs, using a combination of the proceeds from the vehicle sales and our funding partners. This past year, the donated vehicle segment of Tri-CAP’s DRIVE Program has helped 11 families purchase a donated vehicle to meet their personal transportation goals.

Another segment of the DRIVE Program is focused on leasing vehicles. The lease option offers income-eligible clients the opportunity to lease to own newer vehicles from Tri-CAP at 0% interest. The design of the leased vehicle strategy is to provide affordable transportation with the goal of the client purchasing the vehicle and acquiring this asset after the three-year lease term. This past year Tri-CAP assisted five households with a leased vehicle. One outstanding success this year for leased vehicles was a family that was able to qualify for a conventional loan to pay off the balance owed on their lease vehicle. In addition, the family’s many successes over the three-year lease term including completing a college degree, increasing their income by over 300%, purchasing their first home, and having the vehicle needed to transport their children to appointments.

Utilizing a combination of funding through DRIVE, last year Tri-CAP was able to assist 126 clients with necessary vehicle repairs. While the repairs ranged from new brakes, and tires to mechanical fixes the vehicle repair program assisted people maintain their ability to get to work and school, access medical appointments, and maintain their independence. Through the strategies of donated vehicles, leased vehicles, and vehicle repair, Tri-CAP provides assistance for the personal transportation needs of residents in Central Minnesota.

Josh* (pictured above) was struggling to get on his feet after going through a difficult divorce. The vehicle he was driving was having serious mechanical problems, but because he needed to get to work, he continued driving it. Needing to maintain his employment to support himself and his daughter, Josh was needing a more reliable vehicle but did not have the capital needed to purchase a vehicle from a traditional dealership or private party. Josh stated this program provided him with the missing link he needed to stay self-sufficient.

Stephanie* (pictured above) moved to the St. Cloud area and was looking for employment but was struggling due to a lack of transportation. Stephanie reached out to Tri-CAP after hearing about us through her property owner, she was connected with our Energy Assistance Program and food resources. She also moved forward with our DRIVE program which allowed her to purchase an affordable car to aid in her employment search. Stephanie shares that Tri-CAP has helped her and her family in many ways, and that the staff she worked with were always generous, nice, and helpful. Stephanie shared that working with Tri-CAP has made her feel “less alone” in the journey toward increased self-sufficiency.

Ruby* (pictured above) in her new vehicle. Ruby uses a wheelchair and was looking for transportation, having not been able to drive for the last few years due to her health. Ruby uses a wheelchair, has regular doctor appointments, and it has been difficult for her to get out of her home without a modified vehicle. Each time Ruby wanted to leave the house, her husband needed to lift her and then her wheelchair in and out of their truck. Because of the generous donation of this accessible van, Ruby is now able to get into the vehicle on the electric ramp where she is then secured safely. With the accessibility of the vehicle, Ruby is able to drive using hand controls. Having been unable to drive for many years, this has provided her with the vehicle to start driving again! Ruby and her husband praise Tri-CAP’s DRIVE program which helps provide low-cost transportation to families with limited income. This purchase ended with double joy; not only was it a good quality well-maintained vehicle, but it is also accessible for both entering the vehicle AND driving it. Ruby was so grateful and overwhelmed to have this opportunity to purchase exactly what they needed, and Tri-CAP was so happy to be able to be a part of this process.

*Names changed for confidentiality