Moving to a Poverty Reduction System
Circles USA is dedicated to supporting communities in designing system-wide plans, with the overarching goal to reach ten percent of US counties and in these counties support at least ten percent of the families and their children out of poverty within the next ten years. Circles USA is led by Founder and CEO, Scott C. Miller, and is comprised of experienced anti-poverty and economic development planners from across the nation. There are currently 75 Circle Groups working with low-income individuals and families in 59 counties, 20 states, and 25 major cities.
The changes in baby boomer demographics, the increase in automation, as well as the lightning-speed changes in the economy, demand a new center of gravity to qualify the growing, unqualified, phantom workforce quickly. No longer can we let the problems of poverty be managed alone by nonprofit and government agencies. Solving poverty is now an economic development imperative. To scale Circles and complementary high-impact strategies will take elegant design processes to move from a “poverty management” system to a “poverty reduction” system.
To reduce poverty, we must:
- Create poverty reduction systems that are financed to support people out of poverty, as in 200% or more of the federal poverty level;
- Support Transformational Change Makers;
- Eliminate the cliff effect built into safety net programs that financially penalize people for taking more hours, higher pay, and new jobs
Transformational Change Makers
Leaders need great consulting, good processes, and a robust community of practice. They need access to backbone organizations that can facilitate a collective impact approach to job creation and ending poverty. These leaders will need exceptional support so that they can become Transformational Change Makers.
Circles USA is taking applications for a Transformational Leadership Program to begin in the fall of 2018. Based on 20 years of leadership and organizational experience with hundreds of nonprofits, Scott Miller, in partnership with a team of senior consultants, have developed a program for leaders. The program combines personal coaching, peer-to-peer support, quarterly retreats, and an abundance of technical assistance to guide and support those who are ready to begin the end of poverty.
Cliff Effects Mitigation
To unleash the phantom workforce in our communities, (i.e., those people who could work but feel they can’t “afford’ to), we must eliminate all disincentives built into safety net programs like childcare assistance, food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance and TANF. That is why Circles USA has built the first “Cliff Effect” planning tool to guide people on how much they will lose in critical subsidies as they earn more income. We are raising the red flags in each of our 20 plus states with Circles chapters to tell leaders to mitigate the cliff effects and allow struggling families to earn more income without being penalized with disproportionate losses in assistance. Special Report: Mitigating the Cliff Effect
Stories that dispel stereotypes, inspire and inform people about what it takes to support people out of poverty are crucial to achieving a tipping point and increasing the Poverty IQ of our nation. We can’t settle for status quo programs that only manage poverty. We must insist on programs that follow through with the goal of supporting families from crisis to stability to thriving. The Stanford Social Innovation Review, CBS Evening News, CNN, the Huffington Post, PBS, NPR, TedX and hundreds of local media outlets have promoted Circles as a holistic, relational strategy that works.