License to Succeed

Our License to Succeed Program

A driver’s license is often a key to job readiness, as employers in many fields require job applicants to possess a valid license. However, a $50 or $75 parking or toll fine that a driver with a middle income pays without a thought quickly becomes unmanageable for a very low-income person. The unpaid fine snowballs into revocation of driving privileges and, ultimately, a severe job and family hardship.

As the only non-profit organization in Mercer County to provide license restoration service, Arm in Arm works with referrals from other agencies and with our own Harvesting Hope job trainees and other clients, providing administrative assistance and partial aid to jumpstart and supplement the clients’ personal responsibility to pay fines and reinstatement fees and establish manageable payment plans.

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Recent stories by National Public Radio (December 29, 2014; January 5, 2015) and The New York Times reveal a growing public awareness about the economic effects of license suspensions.

The stories echo those of men and women who turn to License to Succeed: They want to improve their earning power through a restored license, but are not able to pay the accumulated fines, court fees, and restoration costs. Job-hunters lacking a driver’s license are restricted to local employers they can reach via public transportation; have limited child care options; and do not qualify for jobs that require a license including security, custodial, home health care aides, warehouse, and driver positions. Our own License to Succeed client Calvin Brown shares his story here.

Through License to Succeed, Arm in Arm significantly improves job prospects for adults, many of them parents who receive public assistance. With driver’s licenses restored and fines and fees resolved, adults are not only freed from relying on restrictive bus routes to travel between work and child care, but are qualified for jobs in more fields of employment, as many employers will not consider an applicant without a license.

License to Succeed launched in 2009 with initial funding from the Karma Foundation, and has received grant support from the Social Outreach Committee of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton and the Junior League of Greater Princeton.

Dara Lewis, Coordinator

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