Getting from There to Here: Transit Empowerment


“Transportation should never be the barrier to self-sufficiency,” says Amy Temperley, chair of the Transit Empowerment Fund, a fund at Austin Community Foundation created to help people with low incomes access transportation in the Austin Area.

Since 2012 the Fund has distributed more than 465,451 Capital Metro transit passes to more than 71 local nonprofits for use by their clients. That translates into over 2,500,000 rides, with an average of over 83,000 rides per month in 2016.

“If I had not had the bus pass I would not have been able to get housing or a job,” says a veteran who was homeless before getting help from Austin Resource Center for Independent Living (ARCIL). “This will let me save my money to buy a bus pass on my own. Now I have a place to live and a job and that is a great start.”

The Fund targets adults over the age of 65, people with disabilities, youth under the age of 18, low-income workers or those enrolled in job training programs, refugees, and people experiencing homelessness. The goal of the program is to promote self-sufficiency by providing transportation for employment, healthcare, education, and social services. An independent volunteer board representing nonprofit agencies, the business community, and Capital Metro oversees the work of the Fund.

The clients of nearly 50 nonprofits, including Boys and Girls Club, Family Eldercare, Goodwill of Central Texas and Refugee Services of Texas, receive bus passes.

The Fund also invests in demonstration projects and microgrants to identify and address transportation gaps and opportunities in underserved neighborhoods. 

“What I love about the Transit Empowerment Fund is that it is a true example of how through working together, we can make significant community change,” says Temperley. “Thanks to contributions from community partners like Capital Metro, our partner agencies, a committed board of directors and our donors, thousands of people get the resources they need to improve their lives and gain self-sufficiency.”