Circles uses high impact strategies to bring about deep change by doing WITH not FOR.
Here is how Circles works:
The head of a family who seeks a way out of poverty goes through a 15-week Getting Ahead™ program and is then called a Circle Leader, emphasizing that they are taking charge of their life and serving as an example to others.
The Leader is matched with two trained community members called Allies who help the Leader realize their potential through networking, listening, and guidance.
Allies spend about 5 hours a month with a Leader working on personal and professional goals. They enjoy group dinner meetings with Circle Leaders, Allies, and other interested community members for planning, support, and networking opportunities.
Resource Teams support the work of Allies and Leaders. Team members recruit other volunteers, guide Leaders to seek education and employment, help them to discover their own, inner resources and learn about community help. Team members commit about 3 hours a month.
The Circles Campaign produces results at both the individual and the community level. Individual Circle Leaders experience increased stability and income, decreased dependence on public assistance, expanded resources and support network, and skill building. At the community level, Circles connects diverse people across class lines, changes attitudes about poverty, and contributes to policy change.
Circles collects survey data prior to the start of the program and then every 6 months during the program. Longitudinal data is collected at 24, 36, and 48 months.
After 18 months of participation in Circles, outcome data from families averaged:
Twice a year the Boulder County Circles Campaign hosts poverty simulation events that are open to the public. The free events are meant to create more awareness of the difficulties faced by community members living in poverty.
During the simulation, participants role-play the lives of low-income families. The simulation consists of interactions with human service agencies, grocers, pawnbrokers, bill collectors, job interviewers, police officers and others. Participants experience the stressful task of providing for basic necessities and shelter on a limited budget during the course of four 15-minute "weeks."
The simulation is designed to create a broader awareness of the realities of life in poverty and to help participants recognize and discuss the potential for change within their local communities.
BOULDER COUNTY COMMUNITY ACTION PROGRAMS | PO BOX 471, BOULDER, CO 80306 | 303.441.1503