What is Circles?

OVERVIEW

Circles® is a nationally-known, proven, and innovative way of connecting people across socioeconomic lines in an effort to move people & families out of poverty. Yes, out of poverty! Our society has been successful at creating programs that only manage poverty, but this program is about the longer term, harder work of moving people out of poverty. Good jobs, saving, investing and changing lives and families for good.

The Circles program is not a 4-week class, and it’s not a handout…it’s a lot of work for everyone involved. But we know it works. A 2014 National Survey of Circle Leaders who stayed in the program for at least 18 months showed that earned income increased by an average of 181%, and cash assets increased by 206%. We’d like to see a lot of those kinds of numbers in Pittsburgh.

How It Works

A Circle is a match of a Circle Leader (a low-income person or couple) with 2 or 3 Circle Allies (middle or upper income volunteers) who work together to help the Leader achieve their goals.

Communication Is Key

Relationships build over time. Both Leaders and Allies are required to attend trainings, and are then asked to commit to at least 18 months in their Circle.

Work Your Plan

Leaders and Allies partner together to set goals. For some Leaders, goal-setting entails seeking a steady, stable job or getting reliable transportation; And for others it’s pursuing home ownership or training/education.

Building to Success

Dinner and childcare are provided for the weekly meetings which typically cover budgeting, planning, and talking about topics such as racism, education, and family history. The Leaders meet every week and the Allies join twice monthly.

In the News

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