aka VFC   |   Halethorpe, MD   |


Vehicles for Change empowers families with financial challenges to achieve economic and personal independence through car ownership and technical training. We are committed to ending generational poverty by providing car awards to qualifying low-income families and training automotive technicians with multiple barriers to employment, such as criminal backgrounds.

Ruling year info


Principal Officer

Mr. Martin Schwartz

Main address

4111 Washington Blvd.

Halethorpe, MD 21227 USA

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NTEE code info

Transportation (Free or Subsidized) (P52)

Human Service Organizations (P20)

Family Services (P40)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Vehicles for Change Inc. (VFC) empowers families with financial challenges to achieve economic and personal independence through car ownership and technical training. VFC repairs and provides donated cars to low-income families to gain access to employment, child care, doctor's appointments, etc., in its Car Awards program. In preparing the cars for the families, we train and place individuals with multiple barriers to employment, most with a criminal background, to be auto mechanics in its Full Circle Auto Repair and Training Program. VFC has two social enterprises to support its mission: The Full Circle Auto Repair Shop (routine auto repairs and maintenance to the general public) and The Freedom Wheels (retail car lot).

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Vehicles for Change

Vehicles for Change (VFC) repairs and provides donated cars at a nominal fee to low-income families for employment. These individuals needing transportation to escape poverty are identified by "social service" type agencies. The cars are mainly used for employment purposes but are also invaluable in transporting children to doctor's appointments, daycare, afterschool activities, and athletic practices. VFC understands that reliable transportation is the key. Therefore a six-month warranty is provided with each car assuring the car stays on the road while our recipients are getting on their feet. VFC has awarded more than 7,600 vehicles to families, of whom the majority are single mother with an average of two or more children.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

Full Circle Auto Repair & Training Center is a social enterprise apprenticeship program that trains men and women, most of whom have criminal backgrounds, to be auto mechanics. Full Circle is unique because it allows the community to participate actively in changing lives by bringing their vehicle in for service or repair.

Full Circle has been training reentering citizens and offering quality auto repair and customer service since 2015. The paid internship provides classroom instruction to pass ASE certification exams and hands-on training with ASE-certified mechanics repairing VFC cars to be awarded to local families and external customers’ cars. The program has a 90% retention rate and a 100% job placement rate. Full Circle has a recidivism rate of less than 5% (the national average is 60%).

Population(s) Served
Incarcerated people

Where we work


Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2007

University of Baltimore

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of cars awarded

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Low-income people

Related Program

Vehicles for Change

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

These are our Fiscal Years numbers

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Transportation is one of the main barriers to low-income families gaining or maintaining employment. A VFC car eliminates this barrier, allowing individuals to access employment opportunities only available by car. In addition, reliable transportation allows families to access better-paying jobs not previously accessible through public transit. This enables families to transition themselves out of poverty and lead independent and fulfilling lives. VFC has awarded more than 7,600 cars to low-income families and has impacted more than 26,000 lives.

In June 2015, VFC established the Full Circle Auto Repair and Training Center. This advanced training program is an employer-driven, paid internship, social enterprise. The training program recruits mostly returning citizens, provides a paid 4-month internship, and trains individuals to become ASE-certified automotive technicians. These individuals have multiple barriers to employment, making it challenging to secure employment. Our interns are placed into full-time, unsubsidized, private sector employment upon completion of our program with our employer partners. The Maryland Department of Labor, Division of Correctional Education considers our program "the preeminent reentry training program in Maryland." The program has seen unprecedented success: 90% Completion; minimum of 3 ASE Exams Passed (per intern); 100% Placement; Current Starting Salary >$22/hr; < 5% Recidivism

Vehicles for Change has built a sustainable car award program in the Maryland-Virginia-Washington D.C. region. Our goal now is to replicate that program nationally, aiming to bring independent transportation and training in the automotive field to as many people as possible. Our goal is to impact 30,000 families. We continuously build partnerships with community-based organizations and employer partners to broaden our reach and better serve those we support. VFC plans to continue its growth model and grow its social enterprises to serve even more families in the future.

VFC has developed an effective sustainability model to provide the funding necessary to sustain the VFC's programs and potential funding for expansion. VFC's social enterprises are:

1) Freedom Wheels: We sell high-end donated cars on our retail car lot. Proceeds directly support VFC's mission. The donor receives a full tax deduction for the amount the car sold for because the IRS allows for this provision when donated vehicles support low-income families.

2) Full Circle Auto Repair Shop: The general public pays for routine maintenance services from our ASE-certified master mechanics, and Maryland State licensed inspectors. Proceeds directly support VFC's mission.

3) Job Placement Fees: VFC has partnered with local auto mechanic shops and dealers to create sponsorship opportunities for job placements for our highly qualified interns. In turn, our partners pay us a fee for providing them with employees. This yields a 100% job placement rate for our interns.

- Awarding nearly 7,600 cars since our inception in 1999, impacting more than 26,000 families. Owning a car helps transition families out of poverty.

- Has trained more than 200 interns in our training program with a 90% completion rate, 100% job placement for those who complete the program, and ,5% recidivism rate.

- 4 graduates who earn over $100,000 per year

- 2 graduates who started their own garage business

- Recognized by the Maryland Economic Development Assoc. and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce with annual award for value to the community for reentry training

- Highlighted in the Washington Post, March 2019, for the reentry training program

- Identified in the 2020 edition of the Baltimore Magazine as a "Game Changer"

- Selected 1 of 25 honored out of a field of over 300 nominations

- Selected by the nonprofit Stand Together to be part of their 8th cohort (Stand Together selects premier nonprofits with a social enterprise to meet to work in unison to address issues on a national scale)

- 2014 – Smart CEO Circle of Excellence Award

- 2011 - MassMutual Citizenship Award for partnership with Precision Tune

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Board of directors
as of 09/20/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Eric Andrews

Goldman Sachs

Greg Packer


Chris Hendrickson

Former CFO of Vehicles for Change

Martin Schwartz

Vehicles for Change

Mark Allen

Former VP of Global Compensation Benefits and Mobility/ TE Connectivity

Earl Johnson

Former Director of the Office of Family Assistance U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Gracelyn A. McDermott

Executive Director of Account Management Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States

Geoffery Bund

Head, Business Development Varjo Technologies, VR and AR Displays

Grey Gerard Knotter

Head of Business Development AMI Expeditionary Healthcare

Elizabeth Kemp Caulder

President and CEO Phoenix Lifestyle Marketing Group

Michael Arabe

Founder and Principle Cold Spring Consulting

Duane Filey


Felecia Rotellini

Former Compliance Director DriveTime

Mark A. Semanie

Mid-Atlantic Market President Director of Treasury Management

George Doetsch

Chairman of Apple Ford

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 9/13/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 09/20/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.