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Building bridges to economic stability with grassroots leadership

Grassroots leadership is essential to ending poverty.

Emerging low-income leaders are building bridges to economic stability evolving from the Circles Initiative of Pagosa Springs.

Circle Leaders have and will continue to shift our community from doing “for” to doing “with.” Circle leaders are taking the initiative to build intentional relationships across economic lines, creating a vision that invests in their future and the future of our community.

Where is all the excitement coming from? Why are Circle Leaders so inspired?

Circle Leaders know all too well that poverty creates severe financial hardships directly impacting their children. Validating Circle Leaders’ personal struggles is a report from the Institute for Research on Poverty, which states,“Our nation spends $500 billion dollars a year on the fall-out from children raised in poverty.”

For a fraction of the cost, Circles provides an opportunity to develop a powerful new approach to help families out of poverty, reduce wasteful spending and increase the number of economically stable households in every community that adopts a Circles Initiative.

How can the National Circles Campaign claim that the Circles Initiative is effective at reducing poverty?

Evaluation is an ongoing process in Circles. The National Circles Campaign has partnered with Wilder Research Center to create a standard process for all 70 Circles Initiative sites across the nation to contribute data. The data instrument utilized by all 70 sites assesses household composition, financial status (including sources and amounts of income, public benefits, assets and debt), health conditions and health insurance, education, employment, housing, social support, child care, transportation and community engagement.

In the recently published 2011 National Circles Impact Report, data from July 2008 to December 2011 indicates that of the 340 people assessed, 45.9 percent of people gained employment, with 67.1 percent of people improving income by 81 percent. This change is paralleled by 131 people (60.6 percent) opening a savings account with the results of increasing their assets by 800 percent. Over the course of the three years, 36.2 percent of people improved their dependency on public benefits with a 17-percent reduction for the counties they reside. These numbers are encouraging milestones on the long journey to economic stability. Like any goal, getting there is exciting and every win along the way is important to achieving a dream.

The Circles Initiative of Pagosa Springs is committed to creating a strong community and building individual social capacity through multi-layered and long-term relationships. So, why not join in the excitement? Become a significant part of the IMPACT for Pagosa Springs.

The Circles®Initiative is partially funded by Archuleta County Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood Program. Contact 264-5517 for more information about the Circles Initiative.

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