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Using the Bridges Out of Poverty Framework developed by Dr. Ruby Payne and Phil DeVol, the mission of the SJC Bridges Out of Poverty is to transform St. Joseph County into a sustainable community in which individuals move from generational poverty to self-sufficiency, enhancing the quality of life for everyone and creating a model for other communities.
The St. Joseph County Bridges Out of Poverty Initiative is a partnership of over 50 businesses, social service agencies, and community organizations providing leadership and coordinating efforts to assist individuals in poverty using the community-wide Bridges Out of Poverty strategy based on the work of Dr. Ruby Payne and Phil DeVol.
Community and agency leaders continually ask how to create change that will end the cycle of poverty. In
St. Joseph County, a large group of organizations has recognized the potential of the Bridges Out of
Poverty model and is working to implement it to bring positive change to our community.
The St. Joseph County Bridges Out of Poverty Initiative now involves more than 50 member organizations from social
service, education, business and government, working to create a strategy for change.
Developed by Phil DeVol and Ruby Payne, The Bridges Out of Poverty model examines the sources and
impact of generational poverty on families and communities, reveals the hidden rules and norms of social
class, and supports addressing and solving generational poverty at the community level. It begins with a
mental model of prosperity and addresses poverty across a continuum that moves from the individual to
infrastructure and policy.
The Bridges Out of Poverty model first came to the South Bend/ Michiana area in 2004 through the
Center for Women's InterCultural Leadership (CWIL) at Saint Mary's College and its Women in Leadership in Community Organizations (WiLCO) program, which involved women leaders from six agencies. CWIL has continued to provide coordination of the effort to date, and is working on connecting student learning and faculty research to the project.
Since then, more than 500 community members have been trained in the Bridges seminar and about 75
people have been trained as Getting Ahead facilitators. Getting Ahead provides people from generational
poverty a process to explore the impact of poverty in their own lives and build the necessary resources to
build a better life.
In his 2007 State of the City address, South Bend Mayor Stephen Luecke announced that Bridges Out of Poverty will be one of his five goals for the year, and he pledged to "work with local leaders to explore the Bridges Out of Poverty program as a way to help local families out of poverty."
If you are interested in getting involved with the St. Joseph County Bridges Out of Poverty Initiative,
contact Bonnie Bazata at (574) 284-4058.
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