Circles of Greater Topeka recruits qualified families or singles into Circles cohort groups. Qualifications are simple: the potential Circle Leader must be struggling financially (making less than 185% of Federal Poverty Guidelines); relatively stable (clean and sober and no untreated serious mental illness); and ready and willing to do the hard work of creating a new path toward a stable and secure life.
Potential Circle Leaders are asked to:
- Enroll in the Circles Leadership Training Class to build financial, emotional and social resources as well as an Economic Stability Plan;
- Partner with 2 or 3 trained middle- to high-income community volunteers, called Allies, who support a Circle Leader’s efforts through networking, listening and guidance;
- Attend weekly community meetings with peers, Allies and other interested community members for planning, support and networking opportunities; and
- Attend monthly Big View meetings, which include community discussions around systemic barriers to escaping poverty and the strategies needed to remove them.
Circles Leaders, Allies and sometimes other community members meet on a weekly basis. The time it takes for a Circle Leader to reach the goals in her/his Economic Stability Plan is typically 18 months, but the relationships formed in Circles may well last a lifetime.
Circles chapters provide a meal for all participants at every weekly meeting as well as curriculum-based child care for the children of all participants.