Center Avenue United Methodist Circles (TM) Initiative

The Circles Initiative is designed to help low-income people in the Pittsburgh, PA area to learn skills and form empowering relationships to increase their economic stability and ability for future achievement. The primary target area is the "steel valley" where the collapse of the steel and railroad industries bottomed out the economy. The primary tool used will be the national Circles Campaign which has a proven track record for helping people move out of poverty (CirclesCampaign.org). Results to date have shown that for every dollar invested in this program, $2 is returned in the form of unused entitlement payments. In addition, there is an increase in community assets as these ...
Aug 19, 2014

Latest Update

Circles Update: Aug 2014

                  Circles Mon Valley has had a very exciting first half of the year; we have some great successes with our participants.  We have had a couple of our Circle Leaders reach a self-sufficient level of income (defined as 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines). We also have a couple of Circle Leaders enrolled in higher education and also GED training programs.  Another Circle Leader has earned a promotion to a supervisory position at work!  

                  Recently, we recruited a new class of Circle Leaders in training; they are ready to begin their journey out of poverty!  This new class of trainees is committed and they are learning as much as they can about how they can become self-sufficient through educational and vocational goals.  Some of our new recruits are already job searching, or connecting with educational opportunities just a few weeks into the class!

                  And maybe the most exciting thing going on right now is that Circles is expanding into the city of McKeesport!  We have been working all year preparing the community to start Circles, and the time is nearing; we plan to start our first class in September.  McKeesport is a community that has suffered many challenges in the areas of poverty, but this city is ready for change and for success.  Circles will be one critical element of a large campaign to bring prosperity to a city that is already working hard to bring about progress and change.  

Apr 11, 2014

New News!

Hi Friends of Circles.

We have some news to report on both our Pitcairn and our McKeesport sites.

Pitcairn is being very intentional in trying to restart some areas of staleness in our local program. This includes retraining our Allies, recruiting new Guiding Coalition (board) members and retraining them, and reenrolling Circle Leaders (low-income folks) who have motivation to continue to work through the challenges of becoming more stable. It is an exciting and necessary time in any program, when "same as usual" is not enough. Retooling and adapting will keep us moving forward in this Circles site.

In the meantime, with the support of grants from the Heinz Endowments and the United Methodist Church, we were able to begin expansion to McKeesport, a much larger city with the same kinds of economic difficulties as Pitcairn, but on a larger scale.

We have had a Town Hall Meeting which was very well attended by the Mayor, the Police Chief, the School Superintendent, some business owners, parents, and faith-based participants from the community. We have begun Ally Training and expect to begin recruiting our first class of Circle Leaders before the summer begins.

See article about McKeesport expansion. 

Additionally, the Heinz Endowments have become more interested in the Circles model as other communities are initiating Circles sites as well. We are in discussion with the founder of Circles to take Circles to scale throughout Allegheny County through various strategic partnerships.

We are developing ways to make an even bigger impact on poverty throughout our area. Someday, I hope to see a headline that reads, "Poverty in Allegheny County, the Lowest in Decades" or "Poverty in Allegheny County the Lowest in the Country." We are poised to be a model for the rest of the state and rest of the country to follow in this battle to eliminate poverty.

Thanks for all of your contributions and your prayers as we continue this important work.

We are still in need of funding for current programming and for our new developments. Your continued gifts will help overcome barriers, which will enable low-income individuals to achieve goals of getting education or meaningful jobs.

If you know of someone who is interested in this work, would like to serve on the board, would like to serve as an Ally, or would like to be one of our "angel donors," please pass this information on to them or pass their names off to us through this email.

Thank you for all you do!

Blessings! Cyndi

Links:

Nov 25, 2013

Joys and Challenges

Wow - the end of October brought us news that the Heinz Endowments agreed to a grant for expansion of Circles into a nearby community of McKeesport. We had a meeting of all the possible supporters at Bethany House Academy near Crawford Village, which included the Mayor's office, people from the education, health care, businesss and social service sectors. There was a great deal of syergy with what these officials are trying to do within the schools and what Circles does with adults and their families. Things are moving ahead and we have already begun our work there!

The beginning of November brought some challenges to our Pitcairn site when the Center Avenue United Methodist Church building was declared unsafe for occupancy. This happened on November 6th, a Wednesday, the day of the week for our normal meeting. We went to work, and the Pitcairn Borough made the Park Building available on short notice for our meeting. Our Circles folks helped us move our office to a room made available at the Pitcairn Assembly of God. The town pulling together have made a challenging situation much more pleasant, though still challenging.

Our work to combat poverty continues and expands even in the midst of adversity.

This Christmas, would you consider making a donation in honor or in memory of a loved one as a Christmas gift? It is a gift that keeps on giving as our folks achieve such things as getting jobs, completing their GEDs, entering college, settling debts with the IRS, keeping payment schedules for fines, staying with a budget, etc. We continue to see hope springing up in their lives as they work toward their goals.

Thanks for your support in the past, and for considering your continuing support.

Blessings!

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