Through our latest research and development, Circles USA is refining the factors critical to building successful work pathways. These factors include: 

  • A clear line of sight to a sustainable, family-supporting job and/or career.
  • Raising employer “Poverty IQ” to shift their approach to recruiting, retaining, and advancing employees who are working to move themselves out of poverty.
  • Human service, workforce development, and education programs that coordinate person-centered supports to provide job candidates with the soft and hard skills to qualify them for their chosen work pathway.
  • Removing major impediments to transitioning from public assistance to work—impediments like lack of affordable childcare, housing, and transportation; and the cliff effect (i.e., the gap created when sharp decreases in public assistance occur before new earned income can replace those subsidies).
  • Social capital (bonding with peers, bridging with mentors, and linking to services) that empower families to secure, retain, and advance in job pathways and feel a deep sense of belonging in the community. 

Circles USA’s latest partnership has yielded a big win for the Upper Cumberland region in Tennessee. 

Based near Cookeville, Tennessee, the Upper Cumberland region is a rural area where generational poverty remains at crisis levels, with approximately 16,0000 children being raised in poverty. Circles USA consulted with the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency (UCHRA) to apply for Tennessee Opportunity Act planning grant, using the Circles model and poverty alleviation innovations at the heart of their proposal. In December 2021, UCHRA was awarded a $445,000 planning grant funded by TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families); and the Empower Upper Cumberland coalition to end poverty was launched specifically to align social services with economic development into one streamlined prosperity system that includes work pathways to success. 

To learn how to get these results in your community, visit Circles USA’s blog. Or contact us directly at