Circles is a nationally-proven and innovative way of connecting people across socioeconomic lines in an effort to move individuals and families out of poverty.
Circles is not just another program to manage poverty. Circles is uniquely designed to reduce poverty by helping low income individuals expand their social capital while bringing the community together in solidarity to reduce the barriers keeping people in poverty.
How it Works
A Circle is made up of a Circle Leader (individual or family moving out of poverty) and 2-3 Circle Allies (middle or upper income volunteers) who come alongside the Circle Leader to support them in achieving their goals.
- Prior to forming a Matched Circle group, all potential Circle Leaders and Allies complete multi-week trainings that prepare them for the Circles process.
- Circle Leaders learn about goal setting, personal finance, the trauma of poverty, cross-class and intercultural relationship development, conflict management, and workplace communication skills.
- Allies focus on increasing their Poverty IQ, with topics to illuminate systemic barriers, the correlation between poverty and race, gender, and trauma, and the differences between generational and situational poverty.
- After successfully completing training, Circle Leaders are matched with their Allies and begin meeting weekly for social support, skill development, goal progress monitoring, and community building.
- The program is an 18 month commitment.
Participants are called Circle Leaders because they are the ones who lead themselves out of poverty. Prior to starting the Circles program, Circle Leaders receive training to learn about:
- Time and money management
- Job opportunities
- Improving communication skills
- Goal Setting
This training will prepare you for the Circles process. After successfully completing training, you will be paired with 2-3 Allies who walk alongside you during your journey out of poverty. Your Allies are there to be your biggest supporters as you work to achieve the goals you have set for yourself.
At Circles you also will have access to a large network of resources, including dedicated volunteer teams to help prepare you and connect you to resources for employment, job skill development, education, social services, and more.
The Circles process is a minimum of 18 months and is designed to help you:
- Become financially stable
- Share your story and be understood
- Use your gifts and skills
- Improve communication and time management
- Be recognized and respected for who you are
- Have a bigger voice in your community
- Become a strong role model for your kids
- Set goals, make progress, and achieve results
The Circles program includes weekly gatherings where a meal and childcare is provided.
The first Circle Leader Training will start Fall 2022.
A Circle Ally is a person who volunteers to play an active role in supporting a Circle Leader’s commitment to climb out of poverty and achieve his or her goals. Your job as an Ally is to come alongside a Circle Leader and build an intentional friendship and support system. Prior to starting the Circles program, you will receive training to help increase your understanding of poverty in our community and learn how to be an effective ally.
This training will prepare you for the Circles process. After successfully completing training, you and 1-2 other Allies will be paired with a Circle Leader. It is your job to be the Circle Leader’s biggest supporter as they work to achieve the goals they have set for themselves.
You won’t be doing this alone. At Circles, there is a large community of volunteers and resources to help you and the Circle Leaders in your journeys together. You will have the opportunity to gain new perspectives and experiences of your community and work for broader community change in the effort to reduce poverty.
The first Ally training begins Fall 2022.
Resource Teams are a key part of the infrastructure of the Circles Program. Resource Teams offer an opportunity to use your skills and areas of expertise to impact the community and help Circle Leaders in their journeys out of poverty. There are 5 Resources Teams:
- The Jobs & Education Team
- The Services Team
- The Big View Team
- The Recruitment Team
- The Community Team
Do you have skills in resume writing or interviewing? Do you have connections in academic advising or experience with the college admissions process? Do you want to engage with policymakers, city leaders, and other key influencers to work toward tangible system change? Do you enjoy working with kids or making meals?
Put your skills to use to reduce poverty in our community!