“12 Thinking Tools for Bridges Out of Poverty Communities” by Philip DeVol is being presented in 12 separate blogs. The paper is for people who are already using Bridges concepts and want to deepen the work of their community collaboratives. Poverty is becoming increasing complex, requiring not only a new mindset but new tools that lead to out of the bubble solutions.

Does your community need a Bridges Steering Community? Phil DeVol believes that it does. The sixth tool in the series outlines the difficulty of developing a Bridges community, offering a “coordination ring” (see below) to help model the process.



DeVol offers suggestions on how to use this tool:

  • Communities find their own names for the groups they form—e.g., Marion Matters or Stillwater Cares.
  • The “coordination” ring represents the work done by the institution or collaboratives that act in the role of catalyst, sponsor, administrative, and fiscal agent. In some communities the coordination role is shared by two or more organizations according to who the fiscal agent is for a grant or by sharing supportive services. Some communities, such as St. Joseph County (Indiana) Bridges Out of Poverty Initiative, formed a nonprofit that has paid staff, interns, AmeriCorps personnel, and volunteers managing the work under a board of directors. The membership is made up of 40-plus organizations.
  • The “membership strategies” ring names some of the actions taken by organizations that are embedding Bridges concepts in their work.
  • Communities will often generate champions who use Bridges so successfully that other organizations in the community and beyond seek them out as models.
  • The “thinking tools” are designed to enhance the work of Bridges Steering Committees.

To gain further understanding, please read the full segment on this concept here.

Phil DeVol is co-author of Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities and author of Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-by-World.