Circles brings people together from different socioeconomic groups to move people, families, and communities out of poverty.
Circles believes that poverty is not the sole responsibility of the individual and recognizes that an entire team of institutions and community members must come together to lift everyone towards prosperity.
Why Homewood Children’s Village?
From the very beginning, Homewood Children’s Village has been dedicated to supporting students towards achieving academic success. We know that a college diploma can lead to better economic, social, and health outcomes over a person’s lifetime.
Over 40% of Homewood is living in poverty. For a child, that can mean not having a steady roof over their heads or healthy meals to eat everyday. That kind of uncertainty and instability, paired with negative environmental influences like crime and violence, has deep and lasting impacts on a student’s ability to focus in school. That is why we partnered with Circles Pittsburgh to address poverty head on as a community.
Poverty is not an easily resolved issue. Circles program participants must be dedicated to creating a long-term foundation for economic success. Over an 18-month commitment, individuals set personal goals and receive the support and encouragement of peers, allies, and community resources.
A low-income individual who is working to get out of poverty is called a Circle Leader. Each Circle Leader is paired with two to three Circle Allies, middle or upper middle class volunteers, who form supportive and intentional relationships. Together they form a circle to challenge poverty, barriers, race, and injustice.
Weekly community meetings are the “heart and soul” of Circles. Circles meets weekly at Pittsburgh Lincoln PreK-5 on Wednesday evenings. Each week, the Circles community joins together for a meal and children’s educational activities as Circle Leaders and Allies work to build relationships, identify problems, and discover solutions. Each weekly meeting has a specific purpose designed to serve the Circle Leaders through their journey.
Week 1: Matched Circles Meet. The first week focuses on the individual circle leader’s goals and future plan with team support.
Week 2: Resource Teams. The 5 resource teams that support the circles community meet publicly. Circle Leaders are encouraged to serve on a resource team.
Week 3: Special Topics. Topics are selected to help Circle Leaders with their goals and plans.
Week 4: Big View. Monthly Big View meetings feature community discussions around systemic barriers to prosperity and strategies to remove them.
Week 5: Family Fun Night. Family fun night happens 4 times a year. It is a community-building meeting filled with recreational activities and/or fundraising projects.
Circles is a program built around you and your goals. As a Circle Leader you will receive the following:
Orientation and Circle Leader Training
1. Caring Allies to join your journey towards self-sufficiency
2. Tools to help manage money and time effectively
3. Training in communication skills for effective relationships
4. Weekly meetings with meals and childcare
5. Trained staff available to answer questions and provide mentoring
6. Commitment of confidentiality for personal and financial information
The toughest challenge a circle Ally faces is the instinct to “rescue” the Circle Leader. The Circle Leader cannot learn to cope with the hurdles that block his or her pathway if a well-meaning Ally tries to fix the problems. Instead, the Ally’s role is to walk beside the Circle Leader, helping link to the resources and support necessary for the Circle Leader to be successful.
Apply and Contact
Contact Erica Lewis for more information and to apply to be a Circle Leader or Ally: firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer and Partner Information
1. Be a Circle Ally
If you’re an individual who can make a strong commitment to be part of a family’s journey out of poverty, sign up to be an Ally. If you’re an organization with strong networks, help us to recruit potential Allies.
2. Help Us Spread the Word
Tell others about the Circles program and help us spread awareness of the opportunity to potential Allies, Leaders, and volunteers. It takes a lot of great people to build a strong Circles Site. Allow us to give a quick presentation to recruit for the Circles family.
3. Volunteer and Share Resources
Each circles site could not be without its volunteers. There are many opportunities
to volunteer as part of a resource team. If you are an individual you can be part of the Community Team and help out each week with setup, greeting, and coordinating food and childcare. You can also offer your skills and expertise to the Services or Jobs and Education Team and help connect Circle Leaders to opportunities. If you represent an organization, come to a meeting and talk about your services.