We believe that our neighbors deserve to live in a community of opportunity, where they are truly seen, heard, and supported in ways that help them and their families thrive. Our client advocate team recently piloted our “Getting Ahead In a Just-Gettin’-By World (Getting Ahead)” program, a workshop series built from Bridges Out of Poverty, a comprehensive approach to understanding poverty through the lens of the people most affected. Based on Dr. Ruby K. Payne’s framework for understanding economic class, using the Bridges Out of Poverty methodology we recognize how the hidden rules of economic class can be used to build reciprocating beneficial relationships and to assist our neighbors with finding added resources to help them succeed. During this 16-week program, participants (current BSH neighbors) have met once a week for three hours for a “kitchen-table” style class to examine their own life experiences and explore community issues that affect self-sufficiency. The participants have studied our community’s barriers by examining both poverty and prosperity by switching the focus from age, gender, race, ethnicity, and disability to focusing more on economic information and class issues. They have learned that money is only one of eleven factors that affect self-sufficiency. By examining the resources that they have and the resources that they need, participants are now able to formulate goals to move forward successfully. Participants have been able to gain an understanding of the realities of the conditions in their lives and in the community. They have learned how to build connections and about resources that are available to them to help them succeed in life. Our goal with this program is to move our participants’ past thinking about making a change, and actually putting a plan together for real change to happen.
During the progress mid-report, we surveyed our participants. They reported of having learned:
- “About different resources in the community and to start thinking differently. To start planning ahead to get out of the situation I put myself in.”
- “The importance of the hidden rules and how not to be a victim of the system.”
- “Everything around me can affect my life.”
- “To plan.”
- “To manage the tyranny of the moment and how to make educated decisions instead of emotional decisions.”
- “To budget.”
We are excited about the shift in thinking that our participants are experiencing and are looking forward to sharing their stories as the first Getting Ahead class concludes.