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How It Works

Circles® is an innovative model based on a body of research suggesting that in order for families with low income to improve their situation and achieve economic stability, they must have social networks of support within the community to help them access resources.  Education and relationships are two key components in breaking the cycle of poverty.


Operating in communities around the country, each Circle® initiative consists of a family working to achieve economic stability and several mentors or Allies who befriend them and lend encouragement. The family is the Circle Leader, setting direction and goals for their lives. With the help and friendship of their Allies, each family sets and achieves goals unique to their own needs.


Each person or family begins the program in a 16 week Circle Leader class which uses curriculum in which they learn to use the hidden rules of class to build up financial, emotional, and social resources, and examine the causes of poverty in their community.   Bridges Out of Poverty is a training program that provides Allies with tools to address poverty and teaches the hidden rules of class. Weekly Community Meetings gather Circle Leaders, Allies, and other interested community members to provide support and networking opportunities. At Big View Meetings held once per month, causes of poverty in the community are addressed, including community and systemic barriers.


Each Circles® initiative is led by a coalition composed of community leaders, families with low income, elected and appointed officials, and volunteers. The coalition works to change the mind set and policies of their community with respect to poverty.

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