Circles® is a national initiative that connects people who are motivated to move out of poverty to economically stable people committed to changing the dynamics of poverty.

Circle = 1 Circle Leader + 2 Allies

Circle Leaders are individuals or families who are motivated to get out of poverty. After completing Getting Ahead, a 14-session course, the individual creates his or her own plan to increase their financial, professional, and social resources to move out of poverty. 

Circle Allies are volunteers who form a supportive friendship with a Circle Leader. Allies work with the Leader to figure out how to accomplish his or her plan, offering help in areas in which they are familiar; whether it's financial, educational, or social/community connections. Allies create goals for themselves as well, which Circle Leaders can help them with – establishing reciprocity. 

When, Where, and How Long

  • Weekly Circles meetings are Wednesday evenings from 5:30-7:30pm at Westminster Presbyterian Church located at 1250 West Exchange Street in Akron.
  • Circle Leaders and Allies are asked to attend at least 2 meetings per month.
  • Circle Leaders and Allies are asked to make an 18-month commitment to ensure that long-term relationships are created. 

Structure of the Weekly Meetings

Circles® meetings are held every Wednesday evening at Westminster Presbyterian Church on West Exchange Street, Akron, Ohio.  Leaders and Allies are asked to attend at least two meetings per month for 18 months.  

To be eligible to participate as a Circle Leader or Ally, participants must have successfully graduated from a Getting Ahead program (Circle Leader) or complete Ally orientation and attend a Bridges Workshop. 

All meetings begin with a community dinner for all Circles participants, volunteers, and their children. Then, children will go to structured youth programming and the adults will begin the work of Circles.

  • Week 1: Individual Circles Meetings: each Circle breaks out into a different area of the church and meets to talk in-depth and privately about what is going on in each of the Circle members’ lives. Goals are discussed, plans are made, and relationships are built.
  • Week 2: Topic meetings: each month, the Circle Leaders will choose a topic they want to learn about. 
  • Week 3: Guiding Coalition: This is the leadership group for Circles. Each team will have the involvement of Allies, Circle Leaders, and other community members.
  • Week 4: Big View: The Circle Leaders choose a community barrier which they want to address that keeps people in poverty.

There are 5 teams on our Guiding Coalition

  1. Resources Team
  2. Recruitment Team
  3. Big View Team
  4. Community Team
  5. Economic Stability Team

Circles is part of the Bridges Out of Poverty Summit County Collaborative http://www.uwsummit.org/initiative/bridges-summit-county and is administered by Community Action Akron Summit under the guidelines of Circles USA (www.circlesusa.org).