Beginning a Bridges Initiative in your community is about engaging partners from every business sector who are willing to discover and overcome the barriers to self-sufficiency that exist in your community. It takes the willingness to see that we are all connected and need one another to truly become a sustainable community where everyone prospers.
Q – How does a community begin a “Bridges Initiative”?
A – Very deliberately and with lots of support!
The First step to building a Bridges Out of Poverty Initiative in your community is participate in “Community Conversations” with others from all business sectors to identify needs and barriers to self-sufficiency in your community.
Second – Assist in arranging a location and date for a “Bridges out of Poverty” training.
Third – Following the one-day Bridges training the key community partners are asked to form a Bridges Steering Committee with others who show interest after the training.
Fourth – The Bridges Steering Committee provides ongoing training to all the community members and works to rally resources in the community to begin conducting “Getting Ahead in a Just Getting by World” classes for individuals in poverty in your area. These classes are usually held 1 night per week for 16-20 weeks and require community resources for the provision of meeting space, transportation, child care, and a meal for each week.
The efforts of the entire community are needed to support the “investigators” who attend the classes and after their graduation from the class.
Fifth – Upon graduation from the Getting Ahead class the “investigators” are matched with community members who become their “Allies”. The allies commit to meet regularly with the graduate to facilitate the continued learning of everyone present. The allies are matched with investigators based on the individual resource areas which the investigator identifies as needing support. If the investigator self identifies as needing help with financial management and emotional control they are matched with allies who are strong in those areas that can mentor that individual.