Our first class of Circles Leaders (low-income heads of households) are six months into the 18-month program. This means that the Leaders have completed 13 weeks of training and been matched with two-to-three Allies (middle to high-income volunteers). These smaller circles meet each Tuesday as part of the larger Circles’ dinner and programming, but they also spend some small circle or “match” time working together on the Leader’s plan out of poverty.
We are three months into these matches and have already seen some benefits. For instance, one of our Leaders has an earned a scholarship, while another obtained a new part-time job. Still another Leader received a raise. Many more leaders have successfully updated their resumes and applied for livable wage jobs.
So how did Circles help?
As part of the program, a speaker guided all of the Leaders in updating their resumes. Then the matched circles worked together to draft cover letters, improve resume content and formatting, and use online job boards. In one case, an Ally accompanied her Leader to a job fair to give her moral support.
While the Leaders and Allies are working together, the Leaders’ children are attending their own programming. We recently completed staffing the Children’s Program, and its teachers are now working on a Crazy 8’s Math Club.
Meanwhile, the Jobs & Education Team will soon be facilitating the job readiness part of the program, and the Big View Team has been working on identifying an issue for advocacy.