Our goal is to bring Circles to 300 of the 3007 US Counties, and 30 of the 297 cities with populations of 100,000 or more by 2026.
Like any 1,000-mile journey, there must be achievable benchmarks along the way. Given the potential of the 10% tipping point theory, we have set the short-term goal at reducing poverty rates in our targeted communities by 10% within 10 years. While daunting, we believe it represents a SMART goal for communities: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound.
To accomplish this, we must have three things in place:
1. A commitment from community champions to reduce poverty by 10%;
2. A theory of change to reduce poverty and business plans to do so;
3. New resources to staff the effort.
Research Supports the Circles Model
We know the issues surrounding poverty, and we know our solution is sound. In fact, our approach continues to be supported by university research.
The most recent evaluation of Circles and the Circles model indicates its effectiveness in helping to end poverty. The evaluation, THE CIRCLES® JOURNEY: 2001-2014 – Integrating Research, Practice and Application so that More Communities Thrive was completed by Professor Mary Jane Collier, University of New Mexico.
“The Circles model continues to be strongly endorsed, is creative and flexible. We add that with expanded attention to contextual and structural barriers, the theoretical basis in social capacity building is sound. We further note that the leadership and staff have a realistic, valid and practical view of poverty. For instance, the leadership defines poverty and prosperity as the joint responsibility of societies, institutions and communities, as well as individuals. It is noteworthy that the leadership is committed to apply results from the formative evaluation to guide training and curriculum revision and expansion.”
Professor Mary Jane Collier
University of New Mexico
For a copy of the complete research, contact Gena@CirclesUSA.org.
“The congruence between Circles and what I had learned as a community psychologist sold me… Circles helped me learn how to work more collaboratively with people from all parts of the community, to focus more on relationships rather than just on “achieving results,” and informed me on a personal level about both the toll of poverty on individual lives and the power of people to overcome adversity when provided with opportunity. I consider my time with Circles to be the most rewarding experience of my professional life. I now live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and am working with Circles USA and local organizations to support multiple Circles chapters in an attempt to widen the impact of Circles at a citywide level. I am excited to see where Circles takes me next!”
Gordon Hannah, Ph.D.