Facilitator Input & Stories

No one can help a Getting Ahead facilitator like another facilitator. Read these tips and stories from experienced facilitators and Getting Ahead author, Phil DeVol, and share yours in this space, too.

  • Tara Wallace-Boone from Stokes County NC shares three Getting Ahead stories of investigators who are taking charge of their situations, “I did it! I understand how to make the Judge my friend.”  

  • Defiance-OHTracey Backhaus from Defiance Ohio shares insights and pictures. “Wow, what a difference twelve weeks can make.  One investigator felt she was nothing when we started, and the end model of her life she put a treasure chest and said, ‘I’m treasure, NOT trash!’”

  • Donna Gibson, Coordinator for Bridges and Getting Ahead in Licking County is using GA successfully in the local jail.
  • How to investigate the Community Assessment in Module 8: Getting Ahead groups in Greencastle, Indiana and Reno, Nevada share how they did the Community Assessment in Module 8.
    • Getting Ahead Group from Reno, Nevada: We have done our community assessment a variety of ways. For this specific group, we had wanted to do a scavenger hunt. Through that, we found that that would take a lot more time and planning than we had planned for, so what we did instead was we met at a local church that had wifi , we set up some tables, everyone who had a lap top or smart phone brought it and everyone had a couple questions to answer from each section. We invited different people from different sectors to come to give a presentation on their specific agency. We gave them the questions the G.A. participants were having to answer so if their agency had knowledge to share they could or they could share their resources with the group. We gave each presenter 15-20 minutes each to present.  For this specific group we were able to get 4 community members to commit. We had a representative for human trafficking, health care, education, and housing. It was a great experience for everyone. The participants learned about several new resources and built some social capital and the community members were so excited to come share the knowledge. We have also allied with our local library.  We can schedule to do our community assessment there and they have an employee who will help us navigate through the internet and provided a list of useful websites that carry some of the data needed in order to answer the questions.  Here are the ones they have provided me with (see list below). Each of these you should be able to select the state and city to pull up facts. We have broken up into groups and have gone out into the community to collect resources from different agencies, banks, payday lenders, and other places to bring it back to the group to answer the questions. The bar chart can be intimidating to talk about with Bridges partners but it can be done. The first question I get when I show the chart to anyone is how do you come up with these scores?  The second question is what are the questions in these categories. Depending on your audience they are going to ask specifically around the sector they are involved with. I live with my Getting Ahead book, I always have one with me so I can refer to it when question number 2 comes up. I always try to capture key points during the class so that when I’m asked why we rated a sector a specific way I have some answers. I really think it’s important to have someone who was part of rating the community there when presenting because they can also answer from a personal level as well.
    • Getting Ahead Group from Greencastle, Indiana: Click here to see their community assessment.
  • Quinn Schipper of Stillwater CARES (OK) shares an activity with other facilitators. Philip DeVol, author of GA says, “Rituals like this one are important for building a sense of group. I don’t prescribe which rituals for facilitators to use. I trust that facilitators will exercise their creativity. And Quinn certainly did!”Quinn-Schipper-Stillwater-CARES Quinn says, “We have a little mantra that starts each class, where I hold a magnifying glass up to my eye and we all recite:

We are all investigators.
Everyone here is a leader in some way.
Everyone here is a problem solver.
Everyone has something to offer.
Everyone has life experience.
Everyone has ideas, thoughts, and feelings to share with the group.
Everyone here is getting ahead!

“Over the course, everyone has a magnifying glass. As the group gets familiar with the “mantra,” I start leaving off the last words and they fill-in-the-blank. Words are powerful and it’s just a simple, memorable way to show some positive and consistent and hopeful thinking into everyone each week.” Read the papers written by GA graduates Lucy Newlin and Brad Essary.

  • Sample Getting Ahead Graduation Certificates. This sample certificate is from Starfish Family Services in Inkster, Michigan. It uses terms like ‘achievement’ and ‘completion.’ For some GA grads this is their first educational achievement and deserves to be celebrated.
  • Book Summaries for Busy Facilitators. Getting Ahead facilitators are part of a learning community that deals with poverty, prosperity, and sustainability. It requires a lot of reading. Thanks to Lee Smedley, Certified Bridges Trainer, for providing book summaries for facilitators and trainers. Read reviews on Peter Senge’s The Necessary Revolution, Michele Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, Robert W. Fuller’s Somebodies and Nobodies and more.
  • Answering a tough question: Richard Hartman, Greeley CO, writes that they have done eight GA classes. He answers this question posed by an investigator: “You keep talking about the doggone table, Rick. Where is the fricking table?”
  • Optional Race Exercises. Facilitators who choose to co-investigate the intersection of race, poverty and exploitation will be using the exercise provided here by MCARI. These exercises are woven into the modules in a specific sequence. Facilitators should view Module 4 of the 8 Webinar Facilitator Training Sessions for Getting Ahead to hear experienced facilitators describe how to do the exercises.
  • Nathan Mandsager, Director of Schenectady Works passed on this article written by Kathy Kavanaugh, “You’ll find a great article in the April edition of the Ladies of Charity of the USA Servicette about the first Getting Ahead graduating class from Cohoes. You’ll find the article is wonderfully written and accurately portrays the Getting Ahead program as well as Bridges Out of Poverty.”

  • Video to use with Race Exercises. True Colors is used in the race exercises provided by MCARI. Facilitators can rent the video from these two sources.
  • Certified Bridges trainers in Youngstown, OH, and BOP Bridges Out of Poverty Student Union members at Youngstown State University presented workshops on campus and in the community to raise money for the students to attend the annual Bridges and Circles Conference in Indianapolis.

Have a tip or story to share? Send it to us at ljackson@ahaprocess.com.

Want to read what investigators say? Click on Investigator Input and Stories.

Questions about starting your own Getting Ahead group? Contact us at (800) 424-9484 or request more information.