Monthly Archives: October 2019

2019 CUSA Leadership Conference Network Awards

Best Video #1:

Circles Newaygo, Michigan

Encapsulating what Circles is with this animated video

Best Video #2:

Circles Davis County, Utah

Highlighting the people and community in a Circles Chapter

Best Social Media:

Arrive Utah

Best Newsletter:

Circles Ashland, Virginia

Outstanding Allies:

Joyce Gale of Circles Utah Valley

Joyce Gale has been a Circles Ally for the last three years. She was matched with a Circle Leader named Menou who raised four kids as a single mom. Menou is unable to read because of a brain injury when she was young, which restricted some jobs that were open to her even though she is a hard worker, a quick learner, and a valuable employee.

Joyce befriended Menou and went right to work to help Menou overcome this obstacle by doing research on this kind of disability, finding a doctor who would donate the therapy she needed. Joyce went with Menou to the appointments and supported Menou through these, explaining the confusing items that Menou couldn’t read for herself. Most importantly, Joyce was a steady friend in helping Menou navigate things. With the help of Joyce, Menou graduated from Circles last month at 200% of FPG!

Circles owes much of its success to allies like Joyce. Joyce says, “My life has been blessed because I know Menou. She is my friend. I love her and want to help her in any way I can. Because of Circles I have gained greater compassion and understanding of those in poverty. Since joining Circles, I am a better friend to everyone I meet, and I am confident to offer kindness and helpfulness to others. I have a better understanding of how to help and support people and how to allow them to become their best selves.”

Beth Young of Circles Davis County, Utah

“Beth brings an energy to our group that is contagious in driving change. Her ability to pinpoint a person’s skills, ability, and uniqueness has brought hope to everyone that she meets. Her love and enthusiasm for life is not only felt but seen by her actions and willingness to listen and encourage.Beth is often one of the first to the meeting as she helps with set up and prepares to greet each individual coming to Circles. She also arrives early to our events and helps pull the event together. Whether a staff, participant, or visitor, they feel her love and true concern for them as not only a member of our Circles family but as a person.

Our meetings often start with Beth having a hug for everyone and a name tag as she works to unify our meetings. During the meeting, her smile of encouragement to all participants and kind words encourage and support us during vulnerable moments, bringing a feeling of safety. Our chapter, staff, and participants are all better off due to her contribution to our Circles family.”


Outstanding Circle Leaders:

Autumn Hendrickson of Circles Utah Valley

Our first outstanding Circle Leader is a single mother of three who, in just four years, raised her income 540%. Hendrickson gives credit to her Circles Allies who had confidence in her and helped with her own confidence. She now plans to buy a home! Congratulations on your success Autumn and Circles Utah Valley. Click here for the full article.

Jess and Cameron Lyman of Circles Davis County, Utah

Our second outstanding Circle Leader actually goes to a couple who joined Circles in December of 2018, got connected with the Small Business Development Center, and began their dream of operating a food truck. With the help of Circles Davis County, Utah and especially Lamont, Circle Leaders Jess and Cameron Lyman became a great hit with their food truck. They now earn in one event what they used to earn in a week. Congratulations to Jess and Cameron Lyman and Circles Davis County Utah.


The Cliff Effect: Policy Recommendations for Advocates, Leaders, and Stakeholders

This report integrates research by Circles USA concerning the Cliff Effect, data from Michigan households utilizing public support, and three hypothetical family cases to develop both general and program-specific policy recommendations. These policy recommendations aim to mitigate the impact of the Cliff Effect on families receiving public assistance as they transition to economic self-sufficiency. The report focuses on the Cliff Effect from Michigan’s Family Independence Program (FIP), Food Assistance Program (FAP), and Child Development and Care Program (CDC). Policy-level recommendations focus on bringing awareness to key stakeholders (public officials, community leaders, and Michigan employers) about the impact of the Cliff Effect on families seeking economic self-sufficiency, development of community assistance programs to help families avoid cliffs, and the development of employment training programs to help displaced workers in Michigan.

Based on the most recent Census reports, the poverty rate in Michigan is 16.3%. The majority of those affected are single-parent (typically female-headed) households with one or more children.37 An estimated 23% of Michigan’s children current live in poverty, defined as less than 100% of FPLs.36 These numbers do not include an additional 25% of Michigan households who are considered “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE).” As a result, the Cliff Effect experienced by families moving off CDC benefits may be the highest priority for Michigan policy makers to address. Specific recommendations for Michigan’s CDC program include:

1. Extension of the program, at some level of benefit, to families with household incomes between 130% and at least 250% of FPLs.

2. Development of a graduated exit ramp, where the decrease in received subsidy is proportional to the amount the family’s earned income exceeds the exit criteria.

3. Development of CDC reimbursement rates categories that reflect the market rates for highly-rated daycare providers, reducing balance billing payments (the financial remainder which is passed on to parents) for families who are seeking quality care for their children.

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