To advance systemic change, each Circles chapter has a Resource Team called the Big View Team. It includes community members representing local government, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and businesses and Circle Leaders who bring perspective to the team. The Big View Team tackles issues such as affordable housing, childcare, transportation, healthcare, financial literacy, quality jobs, and the issue of the Cliff Effect — when rising income cuts off benefits before people can afford the services.
Here’s a specific example of the work of a Big View Team: At Circles Troup County in LaGrange, Georgia, a participant shared that she had borrowed $100 for a utility bill, but she still owed money after paying $55 each month for 10 months. The Big View Team researched loans that prey on people who don’t have credit cards. Some loans had interest rates as high as 400%. The chapter initiated a partnership with CenterState Bank to enable Circles participants to borrow up to $750 to pay off their high-interest loans. (The negotiated loans through CenterState have an interest rate of 4.5% and no “loan origination” fees.)
Finding a solution to predatory lending helps the entire community reduce poverty. In 2020, Circles USA is creating a compendium of Big View actions, like this example, that have been initiated by Circles chapters across the country.