SCRC joins effort to help communities reduce rural poverty
Helping communities find ways to create a place where everyone can thrive
January 22, 2007
SCRC Senior Associate Gwen Whiting works with residents during a study circle facilitator training in West Liberty, Iowa, as part of the Horizons' II initiative.
This spring, the Study Circles Resource Center is working to help communities reduce poverty by partnering with the Northwest Area Foundation in its Horizons II initiative.
More than 170 small, rural communities--including close to 30 Native American communities, most of which are within reservations --in seven states ranging from Minnesota to Washington are participating in Horizons II, a community leadership program sponsored by the Northwest Area Foundation aimed at reducing poverty in rural and reservation communities. The 18-month initiative takes communities through a four-part process starting with study circles. In study circles, community coalitions organize large-scale, multi-ethnic dialogue that is structured to support and strengthen measurable community change.
Using the study circle discussion guide Thriving Communities: Working together to move from poverty to prosperity for all, people will examine poverty in their community and discuss what it looks like, why it exists, and what can and should be done about it. After study circles, the communities will have the chance to build leadership skills, created a shared vision, and take action. The Northwest Area Foundation will award grants up to $10,000 to help communities that complete all components of the program implement action ideas.
Residents of Eveleth, Minn., take part in a mock study circle during their facilitator training.
“We’re honored to be a part of this important effort to help these communities find ways to reduce poverty and create places where everyone can thrive,” says Martha L. McCoy, SCRC’s executive director. “By helping people talk and work together more intentionally on these issues, study circles are laying the groundwork necessary to successfully accomplish the goals of the Horizons’ initiative.”
SCRC program directors and senior associates are providing advice on all aspects of organizing (including facilitator training ) to institutions of higher education, which in turn are assisting local communities. The initiative includes communities in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Washington.
The Study Circles Resource Center is a national organization that helps local communities develop their own ability to organize large-scale, diverse dialogue that is structured to support and strengthen measurable community change. Created in 1989 by The Paul J. Aicher Foundation, SCRC has worked with more than 400 communities nationwide on many different public issues.
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