To advance systemic change, each Circles chapter has a Resource Team called the “Big View Team.” It includes community members representing local government, schools, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and Circle Leaders, all of whom bring distinct perspectives. The Big View Team tackles issues such as affordable housing, childcare, transportation, healthcare, financial literacy, quality jobs, and the problem of the Cliff Effect — i.e., when rising wages cut off benefits, resulting in a net income loss.

This three-part series offers some impressive snapshots of current, past, and future Big View teamwork at the chapter level.


In a 2022 University of Michigan study measuring transportation security, researchers Alix Gould-Werth and Alexandra Murphy write: “Reliable access to transportation is essential to holding a job, grocery shopping, and getting to school, child care, social services, and other activities. Transportation insecurity — the experience of being unable to move from place to place in a safe or timely manner — has important consequences for people’s ability to connect to opportunity and flourish.” The study estimates that one in four American adults experiences transportation insecurity: a figure that helps explain the growing demand for alternate modes of transportation, from ridesharing to bicycling and other forms of active transportation.

Circles Upstate South Carolina


In October 2022, Circles USA spoke with Bruce Forbes and Ame Sanders of Circles Upstate South Carolina. These deeply rooted Greenville residents found an innovative solution to their region’s lack of transportation access…a solution they’re betting Circles chapters and Big View teams across the U.S. can use to build transportation pathways in their own communities.

Part One of our two-part story described how Bruce and Ame’s early involvement with Circles USA led them to identify their region’s pressing transportation needs as a major Big View opportunity. In Part Two, Bruce and Ame discuss the challenges and successes of their vanpooling program, which has expanded transportation and job pathways in their Upstate SC region.

“We didn’t have a lot of funds,” recalls Ame Sanders, who joined the Circles Upstate SC chapter in 2018 and found herself drawn to Big View teamwork. “We didn’t have a lot of fundraising skills, we didn’t have any grant writers on our team, none of that. That’s how we ended up with the idea of the vanpools: they’re treated as transit by the feds, so it’s eligible for federal formula funding once it’s established for two years. You report the miles through your transit organizations the same way that you do bus miles; then they begin to bring in money, which then can fund the vanpool subsidy. So public transit was critical.”

Circles of Grant County, IN

Executive Director Andrew Sprock shares, “Like all CUSA chapters, our Big View asks the question, ‘What can we do to reduce barriers and increase opportunities so that any family in our community can have an easier pathway from surviving to thriving?’ Transportation came forth as a major challenge.

“So, we have been focusing on access to opportunities to bike, recognizing that not only does bicycling provide an alternative means of transportation, but regular biking can impact a number of health and wellness measures. With this in mind, our Big View team turned its attention to attainable ways to impact access to bikes and safe biking opportunities.”

In 2020, Circles of Grant County, along with several other community partners, created a coalition to explore how cycling can reduce transportation barriers that perpetuate poverty. Their coalition researched cycling initiatives in other communities and their own area’s existing cycling programs.

Their research led them to partner with Outride (a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through cycling) and pursue their Riding for Focus (R4F) program, which is a middle school PE program that promotes cycling as an outlet for students to improve their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being through access to regular riding.

To learn more about Riding For Focus, read the full article or view this press release.

Circles Mid-Ohio Valley, WV

Circles Mid-Ohio Valley (MOV) launched a community initiative in 2023 to connect job seekers and employees in need with bicycles for their commutes.. Circles participants, says Circles Director Lisa Doyle Parsons, dubbed the program “Psyched to Bike”. 

Lisa says that, for Circle Leaders, “transportation is often a major barrier in terms of getting to job interviews, getting to jobs, getting access to healthcare, or just getting a better quality of life.”

If someone is looking to take the first step towards getting a more stable form of transportation, Lisa adds, a bike is a good starting point. “[M]uch cheaper for someone to utilize bicycling…than to buy a car, have insurance on your vehicle, maintain the vehicle, [and] pay all the taxes and the fees.”

The Circles Campaign of the Mid-Ohio Valley plans on expanding the program to serve their broader community.

Circles Northwest Arkansas

Drivers with missing tags and tail lights face a higher likelihood of a traffic stop—and costly violation tickets. In June 2022, Circles Northwest Arkansas (NWA) partnered with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition, CPR NWA, Genesis Church, and several local car mechanics. Together this local coalition hosted a Car Clinic to teach community members how to “steer clear” of automotive fines and fees that can negatively impact their economic stability..

Workshop participants received free services to address commonly-cited issues, including fluid refills,tire checks, brake pad replacements, and replacement of head/tail and plate lights.

Credit and Lending

Predatory, high-interest loans run at an average 400% annual interest rate, trapping working families in generational poverty. Circles USA works to break this cycle by connecting participants with financial education, networks of support, and organized community actions to change predatory title loan regulations.

Circles Troup County, GA

In 2021, Circles Troup County developed a program for Circles participants to pay off predatory loans with unreasonable interest rates. The chapter initiated a partnership with CenterState Bank that enabled Circles participants to borrow up to $750 to pay off their high-interest loans. The loans, negotiated through CenterState, have an interest rate of 4.5% and no “loan origination” fees. The Troup County chapter aims to expand this program to other communities, encouraging local initiatives to address unique financial challenges.

“To be able to access a small amount of money in an emergency and not owe your life to somebody is huge. We give them an option,“ says Sherri Brown, executive director of Circles Troup County.

Circles Northwest Arkansas (NWA)

At Big View meetings, Circles NWA Leaders invite the community to learn from under-heard voices by sharing their lived experiences navigating social systems. In November 2021, Circles NWA focused on the cycle of fines and fees, a barrier that keeps many in our society locked in a debtor’s prison. Visit Circles NWA’s website to hear one of their Circle Leaders, Shaletha Parks, describe her personal experience with the poverty cycle, and to obtain additional community resources.

Circles Palm Beach, FL

Circles Palm Beach has hosted multiple events this year to boost community savvy in credit and lending. At one event, Aquannette Thomas (Vice President, Business Development Officer of Community Lending with Valley Bank) offered tips on topics including credit, banking products and options, and small business lending. Th e chapter also hosted Andrey Davis, Branch Manager of AmTrust Bank, who discussed the overall importance of credit health to financial well being.

Sign up to receive our public newslettersClick the Give to Circles button and help us celebrate 25 years of extraordinary volunteers building community to end poverty!