A community-driven solution to poverty.
Circles Essex is a community-driven program that works to increase upward mobility for individuals and families in poverty in Essex County, New Jersey. Based on the national Circles®USA model, the Circles program builds intentional relationships (social capital) across socioeconomic lines that help open up long-term pathways for economic mobility and self sufficiency.
Circles Reduces Poverty
Circles is about building intentional relationships across income lines. While middle-income and high-income families enjoy networks of support through their jobs, schools, and neighborhoods, families living in poverty rarely develop such contacts. Many who live in poverty are hardworking and motivated. When a circle of support forms around them, advice is offered, contacts are shared, and the fears that keep people in poverty start to disappear.
Circles Changes Communities
In Circles, volunteers and participants grow and learn together. While participants navigate their way toward economic stability, volunteers get an in-depth education on the context of poverty and a new perspective of their community. At monthly “Big View” meetings, city leaders, business owners, and other community members are invited in so the community can work together to identify, discuss, and often resolve barriers that keep people in poverty. By changing the mindset toward poverty, systems can be transformed from poverty management to poverty reduction.
Circles is Working
Communities across the nation are using Circles because the results are so encouraging. After 18 months, those in the program achieve an average 71% increase in their income, and they experience an increase in the number of people they can call on for support. Communities have also seen changes at the system level, revising unjust eviction policies, fighting predatory loan practices, and engaging in advocacy efforts to mitigate the Cliff Effect. Circles has real, proven impact.
Become a Circle Leader
Do you feel stuck? Do you want a better job? Are you tired of living paycheck-to-paycheck? Do you want to improve yourself and achieve your goals?
Circles helps families become stable with a unique approach. Participants are called Circle Leaders and receive training on finances, employment, health, goal setting, and communication skills. As a Circle Leader, you will be matched with 2-3 Allies who are there to support you in your journey out of poverty. Getting out of poverty is easier when you have a circle of support!
Become an Ally
Volunteer to walk alongside an individual or family as their friend and Ally as they set goals, achieve their dreams, and work hard to move out of poverty!
Volunteers are called Allies and are the primary foundation of support for Circle Leaders. As an Ally, your job is to listen, ask questions, make suggestions, and be a true friend and supporter. You and 1-2 other Allies will help Circle Leaders use their unique gifts and skills to reach their goals, and Circle Leaders will help you better understand poverty in your community.
Join A Resource Team
Share your skills, your talents, your connections, and your areas of expertise with those in our community who are working their way out of poverty!
Circles builds a strong infrastructure of Resource Teams run by dedicated and determined community volunteers who come together to support the Circle Leaders and Allies. Resource Teams focus on jobs, education, services, youth programming, and even preparing meals and are a great place to share your areas of expertise and passion with those in the Circles community.