12-Thinking-Tools-Paper-Cover“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.

Is your community at risk? The fifth tool in the series references the growing number of distressed communities across the United States. “The number of cities and counties that qualify as distressed is growing; middle-class stability has been shaken; the median household income has been stagnant since the late ’70s; the working class is slipping into situational poverty, using safety-net resources to stay above water; and upward mobility has stalled out for most U.S. residents.”


DeVol offers several suggestions on how to use this tool:

  • This list of risk factors in this thinking tool is to be used to spark conversation and investigation. The community bank in Martinsville, Indiana, recognized the connection between distress factors in the community and poverty and was the catalyst for Bridges in its community and beyond.
  • Utilize information generated by Getting Ahead investigators during the class: the Mental Models of Poverty, Community Assessment, and the Mental Model of Community Prosperity.
  • Use Module 8 of Getting Ahead to assess the community.

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.