In 2012, Martin Schwartz, president of Vehicles for Change (VFC), was suddenly without a bank to help the organization finance cars for low-income individuals who need them to get to work and sustain their families. Schwartz approached John Goedeke, a division executive at Sandy Spring Bank, about stepping in and making the loans, typically between $850 and $950. The two had met while playing basketball at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
“Getting a bank to do the small loans has always been one of our main challenges. The bank doesn’t make any money, and the loan recipients typically have no credit history,” said Schwartz. “Sandy Spring Bank saw how valuable this program was to the families VFC serves and to the community at large.”
VFC’s mission was a great fit with Sandy Spring Bank’s community commitment. Now, the bank is doing as many as 30 loans per month.
Schwartz says the cars give families “access to life, including transportation to and from work, and the ability to do more things for their children, like allowing them to play sports and do after-school activities.” He adds that having access to a car has a huge financial impact – many recipients are making as much as $7,500 more per year because they have the transportation needed to reach better-paying jobs.
Since they began working with Sandy Spring Bank in 2012, VFC has awarded cars to 4,000 families in Maryland and Virginia. Sandy Spring Bank also worked around the clock to help VFC secure two Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans that were critical in keeping the organization going during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sandy Spring Bank is one of the absolute key partners that drive the success of the VFC program. Overall, Sandy Spring Bank employees are incredibly easy to work with,” said Schwartz. “They care about the success of their clients, and I feel like we are part of the Sandy Spring Bank family.”
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