By Phil DeVol

Those of you who work on reducing poverty by providing Bridges and Getting Ahead™ to the Circles Campaign (national Bridges trainers, Certified Bridges Trainers, Licensed Bridges sites, and Getting Ahead facilitators) can be proud of the roles you have played in their recent accolades.

Huffington Post has named Scott Miller “Greatest Person of the Day” for his part in developing the Circles Campaign. Following that announcement CBS-TV called to film Circle Leaders and Allies in Springfield, Ohio. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Those of us who have been part of the evolution of Circles have always known the value of bringing people together across class lines to solve problems. It’s good to see Circles getting national recognition.

Circles has joined the growing list of organizations and communities that have applied the Bridges constructs skillfully and successfully. Those who know Bridges know the following champions (to name only a few):

  • Cascade Engineering in Grand Rapids, MI
  • Cincinnati Works in Cincinnati, OH
  • Judge Robb in Columbiana County, OH
  • Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH
  • Ivy Tech in South Bend, IN
  • Working Bridges in VT
  • Goodwill in Indianapolis, IN
  • St. Joseph County Bridges Out of Poverty Initiative in South Bend, IN
  • St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Youngstown, OH

Bridges champions talk about income and wealth inequality that lead to the different environments of poverty, middle class, and wealth. They use the knowledge of the hidden rules of class that arise from those environments to build relationships of mutual respect and to bring people together across class lines to solve problems. They know how persistent and concentrated poverty can lead to living in the tyranny of the moment—and how to surmount that hurdle, along with barriers that exist in institutions, communities, and policies. The definition of poverty used in Bridges communities gives everyone something to do: stabilize the environment of those in unpredictable worlds and build their resources. Bridges calls for change at the individual, institutional, community and policy levels. It is a comprehensive approach that addresses all causes of poverty—and it attracts people from all political persuasions.

Most importantly, Bridges and Circles engage people in poverty themselves and bring them to the planning and decision-making tables. Congratulations to all the Getting Ahead graduates and Circle Leaders for helping your community address poverty in a comprehensive way.