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New Workforce Transportation Program Seeing Results

It’s no secret, finding and maintaining employment, or hiring reliable workers, is nearly impossible when transportation is unavailable. Personal vehicles require monthly payments, insurance, and maintenance. Carpools are difficult to coordinate due to schedule differences. Public transportation may be unavailable in certain areas and can quickly become costly for those with a limited income. United Way of Southeast Missouri’s newest workforce development program, United We Work, provides local employees and employers with a solution to overcoming what has become one of the largest barriers to maintaining employment.


United Way of Southeast Missouri (UWSEMO), in collaboration with the Cape Girardeau County Transit Authority (CGCTA), area employers, social service agencies, and banking partners, launched United We Work in November 2023. The program, largely funded through a grant provided by Healthy Blue, is designed to help entry-level employees overcome obstacles to employment and self-sufficiency.


The UWSMEO website lists three primary goals for those who participate. First, to provide transportation to new employees who do not have a reliable means of getting to and from work. Second, to empower new employees with basic budgeting knowledge and the incentive to save a small portion of their earnings to provide for future transportation. Third, create relationships between entry-level workers and banking partners to assist with financial matters, including credit repair, micro loans, and long-term financial needs. In less than three months, UWSEMO is already seeing the impact of this program on the community.


Since the launch of United We Work, United Way staff report receiving many calls each week requesting more information about the program. According to Director of Market Development, Mark Stone, the program has enrolled 13 area workers to date and anticipates this number to grow exponentially. Stone states the program is available to employees of all businesses in any industry, as long as the addresses for the employee and business are in Cape Girardeau, Jackson, or Nash Road. Local employers already taking advantage of the program include Lutheran Home, ABM, Cape Electrical Supply, UPS, McDonald’s Cape Girardeau, Mercy Southeast, Logan’s Roadhouse, Rhodes 101, Always First In-Home Service, and Lowe's.


For United We Work participants, the program has been a game changer. “We have a disabled man in his fifties whose elderly mother was trying to help him get to and from his new job,” explains Stone. “He uses a wheelchair, which made it difficult for his mother to help him in and out and added additional wear on the vehicle. Thanks to our partnership with CGCTA, we were able to provide him accessible and affordable transportation to help him keep his job.” His is only one of many lives successfully impacted by the program.


Enrollment in United We Work is simple. Employees wishing to participate in the 90-day program must obtain and complete an application, which includes verification of employment, and return the completed form to UWSEMO. Participants in good standing are eligible for a ride to and from work using CGCTA’s point-to-point transportation services beginning two days after UWSEMO receives the completed application. Employees will then receive no-cost transportation for 30 days. In the first two weeks, participants must meet with one of the program’s banking partners, First State Community Bank and The Bank of Missouri, to establish a budget and savings account. Meeting with a bank is required to begin setting aside funds for future transportation. After 30 days, the participant is required to pay half of their transportation with the expectation that after 60 days participants will have saved enough funds for their own transportation.


Applications for United We Work can be found online at, by emailing, or visiting the UWSEMO office located at 1417D N. Mount Auburn Rd in Cape Girardeau.