After 24 years of research, experimentation, and direct experience with families and communities across the United States, Circles USA has identified high-impact strategies necessary to end poverty. We are now formalizing our research and development into a new division called Circles Design, based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In partnership with numerous practitioners, cross-sector advisors, and action researchers we are designing and proving scaling models that will contribute to ending poverty in America.
Our current Circles Design projects include:
• Designing a Circles partnership for new training curriculum with state TANF programs. Funded by the KS Department of Children and Families.
• Designing Circles in partnership with local economic development programs, Community Economic Lab, Fat Pipe Incubator, and Digital Works training organization using a solo-work platform. Funded by USDA, Cibola Economic Development program and the New Mexico Local Economic Development Act.
• Designing Circles in partnership with Catholic Church and One-Stop Workforce Development Centers, funded by the Bunting Foundation.
• Designing Circles with Arrive Utah using TANF Workforce funds to intervene in generational poverty. Funded by the state of Utah.
These new projects will help us accomplish our mission and key strategies:
- To inspire and equip communities to end poverty: We as a nation must commit to eradicating poverty. To that end, the Circles USA board has made a commitment to bringing the Circles approach to 10% of all U.S. counties and major cities within 10 years.
- The communities we support must commit to design and implement plans to reduce the poverty rate by at least 10% within 10 years.
- We must engage with the business community and together insist that government activates the phantom workforce. The first obstacle is to eliminate the Cliff Effect disincentives that prevent people who are otherwise willing and able to work from advancing in their current jobs or seeking better-paying jobs (the phantom workforce). The second obstacle is how to equip workers with the skills needed for our 21st-century economy.
- We must provide opportunities for all able-bodied people to work up to their potential. This will require that: a.social benefit programs are changed so that there are incentivized exit ramps; b. the economy produces enough good-paying jobs; c. education provides affordable and effective training for people to perform these emerging jobs; d. programs such as Circles USA help people access community programs and prepare for the workforce; and e. for everyone else, we must be willing to ensure they are not living in poverty. Currently, 61% of all people living in poverty in the United States are children, students, disabled adults, and seniors.
To inspire and equip families to end poverty:
- For households with the ability and determination, we must make a non-negotiable commitment to support them to achieve two times the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). For households not yet
able to achieve two times the FPL, we must commit to helping them become economically stable and pursue goals to the best of their abilities.