What We Do

Circles USA works at national and local levels to reduce poverty.

A Circles USA chapter gathers people who are motivated to move out of poverty and matches them with middle-income and high-income volunteers who can support and encourage them on their journey.

Through online or in-person training and weekly meetings, participants (called Circles Leaders) build friendships with volunteers (called Circles Allies). Over time, these relationships help families climb out of poverty and achieve financial stability. The families’ experiences of opportunities and the obstacles are shared with the larger community — so successes can be celebrated, and barriers can be avoided.

Circles USA helps launch new Circles chapters and helps existing chapters expand into multiple locations within a community.

“I never thought about future goals. My mindset was to make it through the day. I grew up in poverty, and my parents grew up in poverty. Now I have goals for myself and my family. This program has absolutely changed my outlook on life, and it has changed my children’s future.”
— Amber Schwingdorf (St. George, UT)

Circles USA also assists local chapters in identifying and eliminating the Cliff Effect. This is the unfortunate occurrence where a wage increase triggers the loss of benefits worth more than the wage increase. The Circles’ Cliff Effect Planning Tool helps each community estimate the income levels that prompt the loss of benefits such as Medicaid, child care, SNAP (food stamps), and housing assistance.

For communities that want to go further, Circles USA also helps launch Poverty Reduction Labs to comprehensively map out all of the poverty relief programs, processes, and systems in a given city or county. Poverty Reduction Labs then identify and help resolve local service gaps, and they develop best practices for efficiently moving local families out of poverty.

Circles USA also offers consulting services to government agencies and nonprofit organizations that are in the process of creating new programs that focus on poverty reduction. Given our 20 years of research and development in this field, we are adept at building unique programs that provide paths out of poverty. Circles USA CEO Scott C. Miller is available for leadership development, organizational development, and public speaking engagements. Contact Circles USA for more information.