Circles Initiative

The Dubuque Circles Initiative is part of an innovative national movement that connects volunteers and community leaders to families wanting to make the journey out of poverty. Volunteer Allies help families break the cycle of poverty by sharing their time, friendship and support. There are barriers that can keep even the most motivated from achieving prosperity, but Circles breaks down these barriers by expanding opportunity and support for families as they create their own paths to stability. Circles encourages growth from people of all financial classes and engages the community as a whole, so we can work together to create deep and lasting change in Dubuque.

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We believe in the power of individuals working together, and the notion that we can resolve poverty... one friendship at a time.

Our Mission
To build collaborative circles of support that strengthen community, inspire tolerance, eliminate barriers and connect resources for those living in a cycle of poverty, so they may lead themselves and their families to permanent stability. 
Our Vision
A community where all have the opportunity to succeed and contribute.

How Circles Works

If you didn't grow up in poverty, you may be unaware of the "hidden rules" that govern many aspects of our lives and how these unspoken rules can keep people in poverty. Bridges Out of Poverty trainings, offered by the Circles Initiative through the City of Dubuque, teach middle and upper class individuals about how these rules can serve as barriers to effective communication.
Those interested in becoming an Ally to support someone who wants to get out of poverty go through Bridges training to help them build strong, health connections with Circles participants.

Circles then sponsors 16-20 week curriculum called Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin' by World that offers life planning lessons for individuals interested in creating a more stable, secure future for their family. Individuals graduate from this class to become Circle Leaders. These Leaders put their plans into action, with the support of 2-5 volunteer Allies. The group works to achieve goals, volunteer in the community, assist in the planning and organizing of Circles, all while building friendship along the way.  Many of our Circle Leaders eventually go on to become Allies, often after years of hard work to permanently get out of poverty.
Circle Tuesday on your Calendar!
 Meeting Location:  Prescott Elementary School
1151 White Street
Dubuque, IA 52001

 Meeting Time:  Tuesday evenings
5:45-6:30 pm - Dinner
6:30-8:00 pm - Circles Meeting
Weekly Community Meetings: Where the Action Happens!

This is a time for relationship building across class lines. We have dinner together, and participate in group discussions or activities. All community members are welcome!! 
Community Meetings
Week 1: Leadership Development
Participants work on leadership and personal / professional development activities.
Week 2: Community Support
Allies and Circle Leaders have the chance to seek support and get valuable information for their respective roles; periodically the volunteer Guiding Coalition will meet this night to update the community and work in teams on Circles projects.
Week 3: Future Story
Matched Circles work on advancing their goals to achieve their future stories of sustainable living.
Week 4: Big View
This meeting is open to the entire community and focuses on creating and implementing high impact strategies to end poverty.  Everyone is welcome!  Want to help plan these events?  Email us or call 563-589-4230.
Week 5: Circles Social Night
When there is a fifth Tuesday in a month, we plan fun, family-friendly events where community members can build friendship and have time to take a break from the stresses of daily life.   
Hear what Dubuque has to say....
"There are many great opportunities in Dubuque, but Circles is as good as it gets"  -Bob Carr (Ally)

"I was attracted to Circles because of their mission and was very proud that Dubuque was one of the first, if not the only, city in Iowa addressing poverty in our community" -Faye Finnegan (Ally)

"I got involved to empower people. Take people from where they were to finding their gifts" -Sister Pat Conlan (Ally)
Big View Meetings
"It is not easy to continue in the situation without trying to impose middle class values, but one of the goals is to establish a relationship and we have accomplished that. I'm proud to say we are friends" -Jim Giesen (Ally)

Circle Leaders
"Circles has made me feel more empowered and more connected to the community" -Amy (Circle Leader)

"Circles has given me the many different resources I was looking for. For example, I had the goal of continuing my eduation, and I'm proud to say that I'm currently enrolled as a student" -Shantae (Circle Leader)

"It has made me more aware of how I come off to people, what I'm saying, how I'm saying it" -Nicole (Circle Leader)

"Right now, with my new Allies, I am mostly looking for someone to care. Someone to ask me how my week was or just be there to listen to me when I need someone" - Candy (Circle Leader)

Want to get involved?
If you want to learn how you can engage the Circles® Initiative and empower yourself and your neighbors to end poverty and build community, join us at a Community Meeting, call us at 563-589-4230 or
Click here for Volunteer Opportunities .   Thank you! 
Community Partners The Circles® Initiative is made possible by support and funding from individuals, organizations and agencies who believe ending poverty in our community is possible.  Thank you to our supporters:

• City of Dubuque Housing & Community Development Department
• Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque
• Project HOPE
• Dubuque Works
• Private community donors

We appreciate your continued support!