Everybody Benefits


Fixing car lights that would otherwise remain broken is good for everyone.


By preventing tickets, this program has the potential to stop the downward spiral affecting employment and financial stability.


Vouchers allow officers to engage positively with motorists and offer a solution.



Officers know that this traffic stop will be positive, rather than confrontational.


Instead of punishing drivers for having broken lights, we can fix the bulbs and work toward strengthening the community.

better prioritized COMMUNITY RESOURCES

Police and courts spend fewer resources dealing with small violations and are freed to deal with bigger issues.

Having this voucher makes a huge difference in life. I’m grateful for my light being fixed, and I’m grateful for this program.
— Voucher Recipient

How It Works


The police department is thoroughly committed to helping the people they serve.

Participating auto service providers are incredibly generous with their donated labor.

Good people make donations that pay for the bulbs.


Who pays for it?
Lights On! is not a government program. MicroGrants, a Minneapolis nonprofit, raises money from individuals and foundations to pay for the Lights On! program in the Twin Cities metro area. Each individual city will be expected to raise the funds necessary to fund their own program.  MicroGrants intends to offer any assistance that is possible within our means. In our experience, raising money for Lights On! has not been terribly difficult; it’s a program that really gets people excited.

What does Lights On!/MicroGrants gain from this program?
MicroGrants has at its core a desire to help low-income people break the cycle of poverty. Lights On! shares this goal and also aims to improve police-community relations and public safety. As a nonprofit, MicroGrants is driven by mission, not profit; as a program of MicroGrants, Lights On! functions the same way.

How has Lights On! grown?
MicroGrants CEO Don Samuels, former Public Safety Chair of the Minneapolis City Council, called a number of police departments to ask whether they were interested in joining the program. Most departments said yes. Since then, the program has grown as positive press has generated interest. Lights On! continues to grow as interested police departments, cities, and nonprofits contact MicroGrants and ask to join.

If I’m neither a police officer nor a service provider, how can I help?
If you can, please donate! Lights On! partners with auto service providers who fix car lights for Lights On! at a deep discount, but the program still has expenses. Whether or not you can donate, spread the word, on social media and otherwise! Crowdfunded programs like Lights On! thrive when lots of people know about them.

Who else is doing something like this?
Iowa City modeled its B.U.L.B.S. (Building Unity Linking Businesses for Safety) program after Lights On! Wichita also launched a program similar to Lights On! Other cities have been inspired by Lights On! to hold one-day events where people have been able to get their car lights fixed for free.

Why is Lights On! important?
If someone gets a ticket for having a headlight out and can’t pay for the ticket, most states allow that person’s driver’s license to be suspended. According to an analysis by the Washington Post, over seven million Americans may have lost their licenses due to traffic debt. A New Jersey study found that 42% of people whose licenses were suspended lost their jobs, and 45% of those who lost their jobs could not find new jobs. A ticket for having a headlight out, while inconsequential to some, starts a devastating downward spiral for others. While some people’s licenses should be suspended--it’s in everyone’s best interests to get dangerous drivers off the road--people who can’t afford to fix their headlights aren’t a public safety threat. They need and deserve help repairing their lights so they can get back on the road safely.

Do you have to get stopped by the police to get a voucher?
Police are free to hold events where they give out vouchers to people who need them without waiting for a traffic stop to occur. Under certain circumstances, nonprofits may receive vouchers to distribute as well.

If I’m at a nonprofit, can I hand out vouchers to my clients?
Possibly. Contact us.

How do you choose whom to partner with?
Lights On! wants to partner with as many police departments and auto service providers as possible without sacrificing the quality of the program. If you’re from a police department, you can read about the benefits of the program, see who else is involved, and get in touch. If you’re from an auto service provider, you can read about the benefits to you, learn about our requirements for participating providers, and get in touch.

Leave Us a Comment

We’d love to hear from you! How have you benefited from the program? See a greater need? Have an idea? Fill out the form below.

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