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Category Archives: Ending Poverty

March 2017 Impact Report

This report measures our success in key strategic areas related to achieving a major reduction in poverty. The data is collected from Chapters across North America America and is compiled by Circles USA.

THERE ARE FOUR VARIABLES THAT INFLUENCE THE RESULTS OF CIRCLES, INCLUDING:

1. The level of employability of Circle Leaders CUSA tracks whether people are in situational poverty or have been raised in poverty. We also note whether they are entering an educational or career track. The level of work experience usually determines the level of soft skills people possess prior to Circles that assists them in earning more income.

2. Availability of Jobs The availability of good-paying jobs in a community dictates how easy it is for people to find economically secure jobs. The trends of automation, globalization and artificial intelligence are rapidly changing the economy. People must have higher-level skills to be qualified for jobs that provide enough income to reach at least 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and become economically stable. Circles provide long-term support so that people can achieve the education and training necessary to secure good jobs.

3. The impact of the Cliff Effect The most challenging Cliff Effects are in childcare and healthcare insurance. For many, there is a real hardship from shifting from stable benefits to unstable earned income. This is especially true if that income does not cover all the expenses the benefits covered. People raised with food stamps, housing assistance vouchers, and/or TANF subsidies often find it psychologically difficult to exchange secured benefits for new earned income opportunities. If they cannot predict changes, it becomes a potential crisis to accept more earned income. Therefore, Circles USA created its own online Cliff Effect Planning Tool.

4. Social Capital Circles boosts the social capital of each participant to have more peer relationships as well as “Allies” who provide new networks of connections. Circles is co-designed with a variety of education, employment, and human services programs to provide volunteer-driven community supports that produce better results.

DATA REGARDING SPECIFIC CHAPTERS OR COMMUNITIES IS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST.

Philanthropy Magazine Article

John M. Templeton Jr.

The Roundtable is the leading voice in philanthropy for objectivity, integrity, open-mindedness, and stewardship with a commitment to measurable results.

– John M. Templeton Jr., Chairman and President, John Templeton Foundation

Circles USA has been featured in the most recent edition of Philanthropy Magazine, published by Philanthropy Roundtable.

This article comes as Circles USA begins our 2017 expansion and shares the heart warming story of Danika. When Danika was 21 years old, she nearly became a homeless single mother. After dropping out of college she was working at McDonald’s and couch-surfing. Eventually, she humbly returned with her infant to her mother’s home in Asheville, North Carolina. Danika’s efforts to improve her job-readiness skills led her to the local Circles program, which gave her the help and motivation to become self-sufficient.

Philanthropy Magazine Article on Poverty

 

The Election

ellection effects on povertyThis week’s election has awakened me from a certain amount of sleepwalking. Even though I pay attention to national and global affairs, I often don’t take the time to register the weight of the seismic events affecting our world. I can be emotionally detached from the churning, suffering, and momentous upheaval that is the reality for so many people.

The emerging world economy, climate change, and propensity towards violence remain the biggest threats going forward. The election has stirred up an unprecedented upheaval in people’s minds and hearts about how we are going to handle these challenges.

The economy is going to require a massive new understanding of jobs, wages, benefits, taxation, etc. We are about to see huge shifts in what gets automated and what training and retraining humans will need to do in order to find work in the immediate and near future. Structures like Circles will be essential to support people who are taking on the changes, and even more so for people who feel unable to adapt with these rapid changes.

I have been worried about climate change for more than 15 years after participating in my first intensive weeklong conference on the topic. Certainly there are enough people in power, not to mention virtually the entire scientific community, who fear the threat of inaction. Right? We will certainly find ways to hold our major corporations accountable to take more aggressive actions to reverse the trends before bio systems collapse and make life incredibly difficult for the millennials and their children. Right?

But what evidence do I have that humanity will not shoot itself in the foot by never addressing climate change appropriately, i.e. urgently, aggressively, and immediately? It seems we are likely to keep escalating the problem through the prolonged release of carbon emissions. We are likely to keep hopping on planes to visit exotic places and get in our SUVs to drive to the grocery store and buy products transported 1000 miles for our global palates and convenience. We are likely to keep buying a mind-boggling amount of new plastic gadgets we don’t need and return to our homes that are warmed by coal-burning plants.

It’s akin to catching the last call at the bar on the Titanic. Unfortunately humans are capable of enormous denial in the face of danger. Most of us are never going to leave the carbon emissions bar until the captain of the ship says we are about to hit an iceberg. (Or in this case, there are no icebergs and the ocean now meets the shores of Ohio.) Unfortunately, bio systems have feedback delays, which means they won’t show the kind of warning signs that would get the attention of a carbon-intoxicated party crowd.

Violence is an unnecessary reaction to fear. We can and need to be better at how we communicate and solve problems with one another. Being nonviolent is a skill that can and should be taught to everyone. We need to show our children that it is best to take responsibility for one’s actions, stop blaming others, and be less addicted to the idea of winning at all costs.

There is a lot to reflect about. Many of us have the capacity and interest to think globally and connect the dots of history to potential scenarios of the future. But we must engage others who disagree with us in meaningful dialogue. We need to get much more active.

We can’t just whine about this with like-minded friends over lattes. We can’t just post it on Facebook. We need to power up through social media and political action to increase the public’s ability to think more flexibly and systemically. As our skills and tolerance for meaningful dialogue increase, we will be less tempted to hide our insecurity behind simple, convenient, and meaningless sound bytes. We will welcome a more rigorous assessment of the threats and opportunities in front of us. We will be more prepared to take comprehensive actions.

Life is complicated. As for my next steps, I am going to work on my social media skills so that more people are inspired, irritated and challenged by my thinking. I am going to listen more actively to opposing opinions and keep my mind and heart open even when I vigorously disagree. But mostly, I am going to lead a movement to end poverty in the US. This is something I can do that is causing a different culture to emerge–one that is more sustainable for everyone.

Conservatives and liberals must work together to find solutions to poverty. Stronger safety nets will be needed while we transition into a rapidly changing economy that will hopefully produce more and better jobs. New economic development strategies and powerful retraining programs must be deployed in our desperate rural and urban communities. Everyone should agree that leaving safety net programs should not cause a financial crisis. The current policies that produce the Cliff Effect must go.

I am going to keep doing what I do only I am going to do it bigger, louder, wider, and deeper. If there is one thing that inspired me from this election, it is GO BIG or GO HOME! We can and should end poverty in our nation, in our lifetime. That achievement alone would well equip us as Allies to our global neighbors and bring a new stability to the world. End Poverty in America

 

Evaluating Paul Ryan’s Plan “A Better Way”

Paul Ryan's "A Better Way Plan"

Dear All,

It is obvious that the poverty and economic pain felt, especially in rural communities, influenced the results of the election, much to everyone’s surprise (especially in the pollster business).

Now that we have the results, it is imperative for each of us to understand Paul Ryan’s poverty plan, a Better Way. As one of our board members, Jim Masters, commented this morning, this is probably the plan that Trump will defer to, given there are no other plans on the table yet. Please download and read,A Better Way“.

If we want to the government to support an approach like Circles it will need to be framed first in terms of “bootstraps.” Benefit programs will be seen as a necessary evil if they remain temporary while people chase work.

Cliff EffectEliminating the Cliff Effect is a nonpartisan, no-brainer. And I believe, the timing is good to bring that problem forward to Ryan’s team to solve without dismantling the subsidies in the process.

I believe that strategies like Circles will continue to be popular with this administration because it is “community driven”, taps volunteers to improve the results of formal community and government programs, and is focused on moving people permanently out of poverty. We should continue to talk about the bootstraps and benefits package(s) necessary for more households to increase their earned income. Of course, unless there is MORE AND BETTER economic development throughout the country, the human development side of the equation can only go so far in reducing poverty rates. Automation, artificial intelligence and globalization are going to continue, regardless of what policies are in place. We must advocate for stronger economic development programs. Again the lack of good jobs drove these election results. People need better jobs.

Poverty LegislationHere is Trump’s position on infrastructure which may lend insight to where new investments will be made that offer jobs for those we serve.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts

Scott Miller - End Poverty

 

 

 

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Circles USA Featured on CNN

 

Eradicating Poverty, One Family at a Time

From CNN: The Circles USA® Campaign is a transformational approach that partners volunteers and community leaders with families wanting to make the journey out of poverty. Operating in communities around the country, each Circles USA® initiative consists of families working to get out of poverty and several middle and upper income Allies who befriend them and lend support. The family is the Circle Leader, setting direction for activities. With the help and friendship of their allies, each family sets and achieves goals unique to their own needs.

Rather than targeting a surface need of at-risk communities such as housing or food provision, Circles® seeks to expand social capital by fostering relationships across racial and economic lines. It engages the community as a whole and encourages growth from people of all financial classes. Circles® is designed to assist families in creating their own personal paths out of poverty while at the same time expanding opportunities, connections and eliminating barriers in the community that make it difficult for families to thrive. History of Circles Campaign

Circles USA launched the Circles® Campaign in January of 2007 after having evolved for ten years from its roots as a discussion group between welfare recipients and social workers to its current form. Early results demonstrate that for every $1 spent on the program, $2 in welfare and food stamp subsidies was returned to the state, and $4 to the community as new earned income. Who We Are

The Circles® National Campaign currently has 62 member communities across 23 states and growing. Scott Miller from Albuquerque, NM is the founder of Circles® . The mission of the Circles® Campaign is to empower people from every economic class to solve poverty in their communities through individual transformation and community change.

Find a Circle Near You

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