I’ve recently gotten involved with an organization called Circles. The guy in charge, Scott C. Miller, is a great guy who is involved in high-impact strategies to help people get out of poverty. Scott has been involved with social programs for a long time. He is convinced most social programs do not accomplish what they set out to accomplish. His most powerful story of how ineffective most government social programs goes as follows:
He served in an organization that served about 5,000 families (mostly single-parent families with multiple problems) for almost a decade. After extensive research they found that only about 150 of those families had gotten out of poverty. So, to try to identify which of the over 120 programs, or combinations of programs worked the best the organization interviewed these 150 families. To their surprise, none of the 150 families attributed their successful journey out of poverty to ANY of they programs. The single thing that helped pull them out of poverty was to marry a person with a job. From that relationship job skills, motivation, social circles, and a variety of variables were modified that allowed the previously poor person to get and keep a job.
This was incredible and eye opening. Scott and others took this idea and sought to develop a program that could do similar things that those marriage relationships had accomplished. Circles was born from that.
In New Mexico, Circles is trying to get 8,000 kids out of poverty. Roughly 10% of the total amount of kids 18 and under living in poverty. To do that they are focusing on about 4,000 families. More specifically, Circles is focused on helping 4,000 parents with 2+ kids living below the poverty level.
Unlike traditional relief efforts, Circles does not build dependence on welfare. Instead, it empowers people to get jobs and training, gives them accountability with peers, and matches them with allies who can help them navigate this new lifestyle.
I’m excited about working with Circle NM. I hope to share more with you at a later time as well as give you an opportunity to participate in making a real difference in eliminating poverty in NM.
Until then, watch this video about Circles.