About Us

Program Summary


To provide transportation solutions to keep families working through car repair programs, vehicle replacement options, car care classes and related licensing services.

Opportunity Overview

The Tampa Bay area is home to a category of “working poor” that is ineligible for government-assisted transportation programs. These families earn wages that put them over the qualifying limits for such programs, and yet their financial reality leaves them without resources to buy and/or maintain a vehicle. This creates a downward spiral for these workers, as a lack of transportation interferes with their ability to retain employment and take care of family needs.

Wheels of Success is here to help. Our program supplies these families with reliable vehicles and/or car-care services so they can arrive at work dependably, take their children to school, shop for groceries and participate in community activities. We offer resources to prevent their lives from skidding out of control.

Program Services

Wheels of Success provides its clients with:

  • Dependable transportation in the form of a car, truck or van
  • Assistance with automotive repairs, preventative maintenance and car-care classes for families who have transportation but cannot afford repairs and maintenance

Wheels of Success obtains vehicles through purchase or donation, and restores them to good running condition through the support of partners in the automotive industry.

Wheels of Success operates with a pay-it-forward philosophy. Clients receiving a vehicle “buy” it from the program by making monthly payments based on ability to pay. In addition, they must provide service hours to the organization. These donations help Wheels of Success to serve other families.

Going forward, Wheels of Success has identified the following strategies for program expansion:

  • Establish a rental program that allows our clients to get to work while their vehicles are being repaired, as well as generating additional funds.
  • Partner with facilities/service groups to provide automotive-repair training to mechanics who will service the Wheels of Success fleet in exchange for a training scholarship.
  • Provide affordable oil-change services to the community, allowing customers to make charitable contributions while caring for their vehicles.

Target Customer

Families in the Wheels of Success target market share the following characteristics:

  • Reside in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties
  • Earn low- to-moderate incomes
  • Are employed full time, or unable to return to work due to transportation issues
  • Are ineligible for government assistance with the exception of:
    • Unemployment Compensation
    • Medicaid
    • Food Stamps

In addition:

  • At least 51% of the families have children, and are either single-parent or underemployed two-parent families.

Eligibility Requirements

The following are required of families receiving assistance from Wheels of Success:

  • Proof of employment, or proof of lost employment due to transportation issues, in the form of:
    • Pay stubs verifying 30 consecutive days of employment
    • W2 form from the previous year
    • Employer verification
    • Offer of employment
  • Referral from one of the following sources:
    • Social Service Agencies
    • Churches
    • Employers
    • Board Members
  • Proof of insurance (if applicable)
  • Application approval by the Guideline Committee, as named by the Wheels of Success Board of Directors.
  • Execution of contract confirming:
    • A commitment to remain employed/or notification of termination (with reason)
    • Agreement to pay it forward monthly service hours and/or money in support of future Wheels of Success clients
    • Optional agreement to provide public testimonial

Program Leadership

Wheels of Success was founded by Susan Jacobs, who serves as its CEO. Before starting the program, Ms. Jacobs ran a staffing agency that specialized in the hospitality industry and low-level clerical positions. She often placed employees who were referred to her through organizations such as the Salvation Army and The Spring of Tampa Bay. This experience gave her an understanding of the working poor and their special needs. Ms. Jacobs served on the Board of Directors of Dress for Success Tampa Bay for four years, and used her fundraising skills to contribute to its success.

Program Funding and Support

Wheels of Success relies on the following sources for donations and financial support:

  • Pre-identified grant sources
  • Automobile donations/reduced-price sales
  • Donations of automotive parts and services
  • Corporate and individual donations
  • Fundraising
  • Board of Director support