Circles® Northwest Florida


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.




Matched Circle


A Matched Circle is a team with a Circle Leader and a couple of Allies who meet at least once or twice a month to work on the Circle Leader’s dreams, plans and goals.







The Circle Leader is an individual or family who wants to journey out of poverty with support from Allies, has completed Circle Leader Training, and is ready to share his or her story and time to help others and change the community.



Circles Ally


An Ally is a person who wants to assist a Circle Leader in achieving his or her goals through the building of an intentional relationship.  The commitment is to meet at least twice a month for 18 months.  Allies and Circle Leaders can continue their relationship for as long as they like.






Circles® Northwest Florida meets weekly for dinner (Tuesdays in Pensacola and Thursdays in Panama City) 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 a Circles Family Fun night takes place.



  • The Circles®Coach Supports the Circle Leader in the fine-tuning of his or her plan and in navigating the social service systems.  The Circles Coach can assist the entire Circle in figuring things out, providing information, or helping to mediate difficult situations.
  • The Circles®Coordinator/Community Organizer helps organize the community and supports the Community Guiding Coalition in developing the resources needed to implement a Circles initiative.
  • Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida is the lead agency involved in implementing Circles® Northwest Florida across the 18 counties in the diocese 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 through serving on teams to run the Circles initiative.



To Volunteer: Click Here to fill out a Circles Interest Form 



Circles® Northwest Florida is asking the community to accept a poverty challenge.  Poverty isn’t a game. It’s a reality for people in our own backyard.  Taking the poverty challenge means learning what it’s like to live in poverty through an hour long, in person simulation.

Here’s how it works:

  • Participants assume the role of a low-income family member living on a limited budget.
  • The one hour simulation is equated to living in poverty for one month.
  • Participants interact with volunteers playing the roles of bill collectors, school administrators, service providers and more – people they would interact with on a regular basis in daily life.

Participation in a poverty simulation increases knowledge and understanding of the dynamics of poverty and the work it takes to achieve self-sufficiency.

Accept the poverty challenge today!

For more information contact your local Circles Northwest Florida initiative:

Circles® Program Director – Pensacola – Panama City

Michele Johnston

Office: (850) 502-2869


Circles® Administrative Assistant

Tarika Joshua

Office:  (850) 417-7932

Circles® Coach Veronica Burnett


Circles® Coordinator/Community Organizer

Ellen Peppler



Circles® Coach

Naomi Sharp

Circles® Coordinator/Community Organizer