WHAT IS Building Bridges?

Building Bridges, (formerly Circles Joplin) is all about building relationships.  Together, everyday men and women figure out how to do life better.  Community members help participants find better ways to budget, resolve conflict, and gain the skills needed for successful employment.  The best part about Circles is the fact that participants are changing their own lives.  No handouts are given.  People are supporting one another through friendship and fellowship to make life better for our whole community. 

Building Bridges is a community collaboration in partnership with the United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas.


WHO DOES Building Bridges IMPACT?

The Building Bridges program reduces the number of families and individuals who rely on government programs and charitable aid. More importantly, it breaks the cycle of poverty as graduates teach their children how to get ahead, not just get by. The program can increase the number of educated workers in the community, reduce unemployment rate and increase the tax base, which results in a more prosperous and healthy community. Building Bridges has served the greater Joplin area for the past five years, changing lives right here at home.


HOW DOES Building bridges WORK?

We believe no one should live in poverty. Families and communities can take charge of their destinies. And if given the right tools and support, economic stability can be achieved. We see it happen in our chapters every day. Through an approach that combines our techniques with the individualized support of our dedicated volunteers and the resources of organizations and communities, we create an environment that educates, empowers and equips our members to move up and out of poverty successfully.

We discovered several years ago that in order to solve the issue of poverty, we had to approach things in a very different way. The solution doesn’t have to be complicated but it has to be personal. We know that in order to make a real change it has to be addressed using a multi-dimensional method. Here’s how it works:

  • Community leaders and/or organizations work with Building Bridges to establish a local chapter.

  • This begins with trainings. We take a collaborative approach during implementation by building on the strengths of existing community-based organizations.

  • Our model focuses on three stages: Crisis management and stabilization, education and job placement and job retention, advancement and economic stability.

Building Bridges sponsors groups of up to 25 participants who are known as Building Bridges Participants. They are asked to:

  • Enroll in the Building Bridges Leadership Training Class to build financial, emotional and social resources as well as an Economic Stability Plan,

  • Partner with trained middle- to high-income community volunteers, called Allies, who support a Building Bridges Participant’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.