Circles: Washtenaw County

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by Bird Williams

Staff Writer


Circles® is a unique program based on the premise that developing meaningful relationships across socioeconomic lines can have a dramatic impact on the effort to move families up and out of poverty. Knowing that relationships and connections matter, the Circles program matches a person living in poverty with two to three middle- or upper-income partners for at least 18 months to build relationships. The goal of these relationships is to break the cycle of generational or situational poverty by creating circles of support and connections with people who are committed to making real change in their community. The unique strategy of Circles utilizes education, goal setting, training and, above all, relationships to help participants develop the resources and social capital they need to rise up and out of poverty permanently and achieve economic independence.

Circles believes that no one should live in poverty, that families and communities can take charge of their own destinies and that providing impoverished people with the right tools and support can and does result in achieving economic stability.


The Circles approach combines reliable techniques with the individualized support of dedicated volunteers and the resources of organizations and communities to create an environment that educates, empowers and equips Circles participants to move up and out of poverty successfully.

The Circles approach focuses on three stages: (1) crisis management and stabilization, (2) education and job placement and (3) job retention, advancement and economic stability.


Circles USA has more than 70 chapters nationwide and four in Michigan. The Washtenaw County chapter is part of Friends in Deed, an organization that addresses the immediate needs of low-income families living in Washtenaw County.

Scott C. Miller, founder and CEO of Circles USA, has this to say: “We have been conditioned to believe that poverty is an unavoidable problem of society, but what if that were not true? What if we have normalized an abusive condition that we could actually solve?”


Circles Washtenaw County is an exciting relationship-based program aimed at lifting families out of poverty—permanently. To find out more about this program and ways that your time and talents can help transform our community, please attend one of the upcoming Circles Volunteer Orientations.

Dates:  Thursday March 8 and/or Thursday April 5

Location:  St. Luke Lutheran Church, 4205 Washtenaw Ave. in Ann Arbor.

Time:  7:00–8:15 p.m.

Please RSVP the program coordinator if you plan to attend:

If you would like to apply to be a Circle Leader and lift your family permanently out of poverty, please visit Circles Washtenaw County on the web  at or contact the organization at (734) 340-9042.



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