Monthly Archives: October 2021

Poverty Alleviation Systems

A Poverty Alleviation System is intended to replace the former Poverty Management System. It’s an evolution of the Circles model that expands the Big View into a radical collaboration across sectors.


At present, seven communities are collaborating with Scott Miller and Circles USA. Here are three samples of these pioneers:

– Riverton, WY: The school district is committed to partnering with the community to build a system that supports our families working to get out of and stay out of poverty. The Circles model will be modified to create workforce pathways in partnership with businesses, secondary schools, and government agencies.

– Cookeville, TN: A community action agency focused on economic development has asked us to help prepare them for a large innovation grant opportunity being offered by the state. The approach will combine work pathways through the Circles model with a collective-impact backbone organization to drive prosperity into all fourteen of their rural and semi-rural counties.

– Hastings, NE: The United Way and the Community Impact Network invited us to help them establish a poverty alleviation system to accomplish their bold goal of reducing poverty by 30% by 2030.

All sites address the problem of helping people out of poverty by meeting the workforce demand, which is at an all time high. 


– Assessment: Interview stakeholders (human services, business, education, government, and/or civic sectors, and those experiencing poverty) and report the challenges and opportunities

– Employer Engagement & Training: Research available jobs and barriers to employment for workers of low wealth and educate employers to raise their “poverty IQ”

– Train Systems Leaders: Provide directors with Transformational Leadership Curriculum

– Site Visit: Facilitate meetings to build a shared vision among stakeholders

– Dashboard: Define target group and metrics for tracking progress

– Final Report: Develop a final assessment with recommendations for Poverty Alleviation System design and implementation

Mental Models

Stay Tuned

We know many chapters are designing job pathways as a response to the emerging economy and community needs. We’ll share what’s learned with the entire network, so stay tuned to our newsletters. For more information, contact

Appreciating Scott Miller, Founder of Circles USA

At Circles, we celebrate milestones and give appreciation to our colleagues. Here, we wish to acknowledge the visionary leadership and decades of service by Founder Scott Miller. Plus, we are excited to share how Scott’s work is evolving to advance Poverty Alleviation Systems across the country.

“It’s not a retirement, but a graduation.” This was the sentiment among board and staff as Scott recently completed his term on the Circles USA Board of Directors. Going forward, Scott will retain the title of Founder, and Circles USA already has big plans to continue working with Scott as a consultant.

Poverty Alleviation Systems

In his new role as a consultant for Circles USA, Scott is advising numerous U.S. communities to design and implement Poverty Alleviation Systems. This work is an evolution of the Circles model that expands the Big View into a radical collaboration across sectors. A Poverty Alleviation System is intended to replace the former Poverty Management System. For more about this pioneering work, with examples from three sites, read here.


At this moment of transition for Scott, we celebrate his significant accomplishments to date: 

Founding Circles USA, originally named Move the Mountain Leadership Center, in 1998

– Designing and implementing the Circles Model to build social capital for those experiencing poverty

– Leading Circles USA for 22 years and bringing the model to over 100 communities

– Authoring several books, including Transformational Leadership and Bootstraps and Benefits

– Being named an AARP Well-Being Champion in 2018

– Being an inspirational musician and artist 


Here’s a sample of good wishes to Scott from staff and board members:

– “When you hired me 15 years ago, I didn’t know what to expect, but as my role grew, so did my confidence. You reminded me to listen to my gut and use my own good judgment. You have always been my ally when I needed support. Thank you for the grace, love, life lessons, challenges, fun, and support all these years.” -Gena Atcher

– “I think that everyone who has worked with you has been impacted for the better. You have been a powerful ally to me, and I would not have been able to make the leap from public education to the nonprofit sector without your patient guidance and belief in my capacity. You helped me to take my life back, which is exactly what Circles is all about.” -Kamatara Johnson

– “It’s wonderful that so many external opportunities are coming together at a scale deserving of your time and attention, Scott. I always admire how you’re seemingly unafraid to try new things. In my leadership, I’m hoping to emulate the boldness with which you take action.” -Jamie Haft

– “Thank you for your service and your foresight. Not everyone can start, sustain and grow an organization to the size and success of Circles like you have. The fact that you can now transition into this new role is a testament to your great work and the foundation that has been laid by you and many others.” -Christy Vines

– “We have learned and grown so much during this journey together. The challenge of turning a vision into reality is what your leadership has meant for so many. I continue to be in awe of your many avenues of creativity, spirituality, risk-taking, and tenacity. May we, inspired by your legacy and new relationship with Circles, do you proud! -Joan Kuriansky

On behalf of the entire Circles community, congratulations and thanks to Scott! We look forward to collaborating for many years to come. To share your appreciations with Scott, email