Circles®

An innovative, community-based approach to solving poverty

We believe that responsibility for both poverty and prosperity rests not only in the hands of individuals, but also with societies, institutions, organizations and communities. Our approach is a progressive model grounded in research that shows families must have strong social capital and connections (relationships and resources) with their communities in order to improve their economic situation and overall quality of life in their neighborhoods.

The Circles® Framework: Circle Leaders, allies, and a diverse array of community members gather in five collaborating teams to understand, engage with, and sustainably resolve poverty.

Toward resolving poverty...

“We cannot solve problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

Albert Einstein

Circles® USA is the result of more than 20 years of research and the development of leadership tools for communities by Move the Mountain Leadership Center.

Circles has worked to address poverty by increasing the capacity of communities. Our approach combines best practices in several disciplines including community organizing, case management, grassroots leadership, S.M.A.R.T. goal setting, financial literacy, mentoring, peer-to-peer counseling and learning, and child/youth development.

Our mission is to inspire and equip families and communities to thrive and resolve poverty.

The Circles model has been implemented by many well-known organizations such as United Way, Goodwill, The United Methodist Church, Lutheran Social Services, Community Action Partnerships, Catholic Charities, and Chambers of Commerce. It has also been adapted by community colleges, housing corporations, workforce development centers, human service systems, community neighborhood centers, and hospitals.

Circles® is a unique partnership of a Circle Leader and 3 to 4 Allies.

Circle Leaders are low income individuals (and their families) who have the determination and dedication to break out of the cycle of poverty. By engaging in meaningful relationships with their Allies, Circle Leaders and families can break through their isolation and achieve a better quality of life.

Allies are community volunteers who share their experience, time, and energy to help a Circle Leader and their family “figure out” how to get out and stay out of the cycle of poverty. Engaging in meaningful relationships with a family and helping them grow and succeed provides a deep sense of fulfillment while bringing real meaning and quality to life!

Creating a Circle is done by matching a Circle Leader with 3 to 4 Allies. Individuals are matched based on interests and family goals. Circle Leaders gather weekly. Allies attend at least one weekly meeting per month and provide coaching for Circle Leaders.

The Goal is to identify barriers and solutions to help individuals and families move out and stay out of poverty, and to strengthen community! By working with families, Allies can see what barriers keep families stuck. Together we look for and participate in real solutions.

Circles Ashland is a federally recognized non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Your donations are tax deductible.