Circles® Northwest Florida

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Circles® Northwest Florida, a prosperity initiative of Catholic Charities provides a path for motivated people to achieve prosperity.   With more than 20% of Florida Panhandle residents and more than 28% of our children living below the poverty line, Circles® NWFL is the proven path to  long term self-sufficiency, reaching across generations to teach self-reliance and effective problem solving.

Circles® NWFL is different from other prosperity initiatives, because our well-trained team of professionals and volunteers teach participants how to build financial, emotional, and social resources, while at the same time working with community leaders to encourage policies that uplift and support a family’s path to prosperity.  Each participant’s move to prosperity is customized to their specific needs and combines formal education and support with informal mentoring.




A Circle is an individual or family working to get out of poverty and two to three allies who support them in their ongoing efforts to develop the emotional, intellectual, financial, and spiritual resources necessary for self-sufficiency and stability.


The Circle Leader is the individual or family of low income who is interested in becoming self-sufficient. The Circle Leader is responsible for leading the circle as well as receiving and giving support within the circle. The Circle Leader works with the Allies to build his or her life plan while using their knowledge and skills as problem-solvers and poverty experts to work on the poverty issues in their community. Before being matched with allies, a Circle Leader must complete the fifteen week Getting Ahead in a Just-Getting’-By World™.


An ally is a volunteer engaged in an intentional, befriending relationship with an individual or family working on his or her plan to becoming self-sufficient. Within the guidelines set by Circles® Northwest Florida, allies do what makes sense and what brings joy to the relationship. Before being matched with a Circle Leader, an ally attends two training sessions:  Bridges Out Of Poverty© and Ally training.


Circles® Northwest Florida meets weekly for dinner and then a focused event. Activities for children and youth are provided after dinner. The first and third week of the month involves the Circle Leader meeting with their allies. The second week alternates between having a Guest Speaker to focus on a topic related to self-sufficiency and Big View meetings that examine the barriers that hold people in poverty and advocate for systematic change in the community.  The fourth week  has Circle Leaders meeting together and allies meeting together for support and training.  If a month has five weeks then all of the above mentioned activities take place.


• The Circles® coach is responsible for working with Circle Leaders and their families on assessment and initial goal setting to navigate the social services system.
• The Circles® community organizer engages the community in developing solutions to the systematic barriers that perpetuate poverty and serves as the liaison for Circles Northwest Florida to the community.
Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida is the lead agency involved in implementing Circles® Northwest Florida across the region and in working with the Circle Leaders, their families, and their allies.
Guiding Coalition includes people from various social economic classes and races who are committed to ending poverty and supporting Circles® Northwest Florida.


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For more information contact your local Circles Northwest Florida initiative:



Circles® Administrative Assistant
Veronica Burnett


Circles® Administrative Assistant
Tarika Joshua
Office:  (850) 417-7932

Circles® Program Director – Pensacola – Panama City
Michele Johnston
Office:  (850) 502-2869

The Circles® Campaign uses the concepts found in Bridges Out of Poverty [Bridges] and Getting Ahead in a Just-Getting’-by World [Getting Ahead™], presented in partnership with publisher, aha! Process, Inc., and DeVol & Associates, LLC.  These concepts engage people of all classes, races, sectors, and political persuasions in the work of ending poverty and building communities where everyone can live well.  Bridges and Getting Ahead™ provide a common language for Guiding Coalitions, Allies, and Circle Leaders.  The application of Bridges and Getting Ahead constructs provides an accurate mental model of poverty and class, a way to build relationships of mutual respect, an understanding of the barriers faced by people who are transitioning out of poverty, and a comprehensive systemic way to address all the causes of poverty.