Bucks County Opportunity Council, Inc. Creating Opportunities for Women and Families in Distress
Circles of Opportunity™ • One • To introduce a framework or perspective for understanding poverty based on our experience • Two • To introduce new approaches that can enable organizations and communities to become more skilled in working with individuals who are in poverty
Circles of Opportunity™ • Opportunity Council • Founded in 1965 as part of: • War On Poverty • Progressed from job training to addressing emergency needs of low-income • Out of the Box Question? • In mid 1990’s our Board asked: • Do we help people cope in • poverty or move them out of • poverty?
Circles of Opportunity™ • Myth • People above poverty line should be able to solve the arithmetic of life • Fact • Poverty level for family of four is $20,650 • There is one national poverty level • Housing in Bucks County can be more than 50% of family income
Housing Trends Source: Prosperity Lost (1990) by Philip Mattera
Housing Trends 1991 • 47 affordable rental units per 100 low-income families 1997 • 36 affordable rental units per 100 low-income families Source: “Rental Housing—the Worsening Crisis: A Report to Congress on Worst-CaseHousing Needs”(March 2000), U.S. Housing & Urban Development
Housing Trends 59% of poor renters spend more than 50% of their income on shelter Source: “Why America’s Workers Can’t Pay the Rent” (Summer 2000) by Peter Dreier in Dissent
Wages and Net Worth • 22% of U.S. workers earn less than $8 an hour. • 29 million U.S. workers hold jobs for at least half a year and earn less than $15,000. • Median net worth for top 10%: $833,600 • Median net worth for bottom 20%: $7,900 Source: David Shipler, Stanford Social Innovations Review (Summer 2004)
Circles of Opportunity™ • Myth • Poverty level in Bucks County is less than 4% • Fact • Poverty guidelines to determine program or benefit eligibility not “Poverty” • In Bucks County 34% of single mothers with a child age 5 or less lives in poverty
Circles of Opportunity™ Fact Working poor number in Bucks County – families and individuals that work hard and play by the rules – is at least three times the poverty rate. More than 25,000 households in Bucks County make less than $35,000 annually
Circles of Opportunity™ Solution – Define Self-Sufficiency and develop a program that will help “motivated” people achieve it - Economic Self-Sufficiency (ES)
Circles of Opportunity™ • Economic Self-Sufficiency (ES) • Complete 15-20 week Getting • Ahead curriculum • Full employment • Free of TANF cash assistance, • Food Stamps and Section 8 • housing Choice Voucher • Balanced household budget • Safe, affordable housing • Reliable transportation for work – • and child care
Circles of Opportunity™ • Economic Self-Sufficiency (ES) • Health Insurance coverage for all in family • Checking and savings account • Acceptable credit rating or credit repair plan • Job search skills • Skills to build eleven resources to sustain Self-Sufficiency
Circles of Opportunity™ • ES Grads 2005-06 • 45 grads • Includes 13 LPNs and 3 registered • nurses • Average starting income – 77% of • poverty guidelines • Average increase to household • income – more than $24,000 • Since 1967 – 173 grads and 45 • have gone on to purchase • homes
Circles of Opportunity™ • ES Grads 2005-06 • 45 grads • Includes 13 LPNs and 3 registered • nurses • Average starting income – 77% of • poverty guidelines • Average increase to household • income – more than $26,052 • Since 1967 – 173 grads and 45 • have gone on to purchase • homes
Circles of Opportunity™ • ES Grads Long-term Success • Quality and quantity of resources • developed by grad • How connected grad becomes to • community
Circles of Opportunity™ • Getting Ahead • What It’s Like Now • Theory of Change • Rich/Poor Gap and How It Works • Hidden Rules of Economic Class • Eleven Resources
Circles of Opportunity™ • Getting Ahead • Stages of Change • Self-Assessment of Resources • Building Resources • Community Assessment • Your Plan for Getting Out of • Poverty • Creating Mental Models of • Success
Key Point #1 We focus on economic diversity, not racial or cultural diversity.
Key Point #2 Poverty is relative.
Key Point #3 Poverty occurs in all races and in all countries.
Key Point #4 Economic class is a continuous line, not a clear-cut distinction.
Key Point #5 Generational poverty and situational poverty are different.
Key Point #6 This work is based on patterns. All patterns have exceptions.
Key Point #10 We can neither excuse persons from poverty, nor scold them for not knowing. As professionals we provide support, insistence, and expectations.
Key Point #11 In order to move from poverty to middle class or from middle class to wealth, an individual must give up relationships (at least for a time) for achievement.
Key Point #12 We cannot blame the victims of poverty for being in poverty.
Key Point #13 We cannot continue to support stereotypes and prejudices about the poor.
OBJECTIVE Understand and give examples of the hidden rules of the three economic classes.
POSSESSIONS POVERTY People MIDDLE CLASS Things WEALTH One-of-a-kind objects, legacies, pedigrees
LOVE POVERTY Love and acceptance conditional, based on whether individual is liked MIDDLE CLASS Love and acceptance conditional and based largely on achievement WEALTH Love and acceptance conditional and related to social standing and connections
SOCIAL EMPHASIS POVERTY Social inclusion of people he/she likes MIDDLE CLASS Emphasis is on self-governance and self-sufficiency WEALTH Emphasis is on social exclusion
PERSONALITY POVERTY Is for entertainment Sense of humor is highly valued MIDDLE CLASS Is for acquisition and stability Achievement is highly valued WEALTH Is for connections Financial, political, social connections are highly valued
FOOD POVERTY Key question: Did you have enough? Quantity important MIDDLE CLASS Key question: Did you like it? Quality important WEALTH Key question: Was it presented well? Presentation important
CLOTHING POVERTY Clothing valued for individual style and expression of personality MIDDLE CLASS Clothing values for its quality and acceptance into norm of middle class Label important WEALTH Clothing valued for its artistic sense and expression Designer important
DESTINY POVERTY Believes in fate Cannot do much to mitigate chance MIDDLE CLASS Believes in choice Can change future with good choices now WEALTH Noblesse oblige
EDUCATION POVERTY Valued and revered as abstract but not as reality MIDDLE CLASS Crucial for climbing success ladder and making money WEALTH Necessary tradition for making and maintaining connections
WORLD VIEW POVERTY Sees world in terms of local setting MIDDLE CLASS Sees world in terms of national setting WEALTH Sees world in terms of international view
HUMOR POVERTY About people and sex MIDDLE CLASS About situations WEALTH About social faux pas
FAMILY STRUCTURE POVERTY Tends to be matriarchal MIDDLE CLASS Tends to be patriarchal WEALTH Depends on who has the money
LANGUAGE POVERTY Casual register Language is about survival MIDDLE CLASS Formal register Language is about negotiation WEALTH Formal register Language is about networking
POWER POVERTY Power linked to personal respect Ability to fight Can’t stop bad things from happening MIDDLE CLASS Power/respect separated Responds to position Power in information and institutions WEALTH Power in expertise, connections Power in stability Influences policy and direction
DRIVING FORCES POVERTY Survival, relationships, entertainment MIDDLE CLASS Work, achievement WEALTH Financial, political, social connections
COULD YOU SURVIVE IN POVERTY? COMPLETE THE QUIZ: Put a check by each item you know how to do. ______ 1. I know which churches and sections of town have the best rummage sales. ______ 2. I know which rummage sales have “bag sales” and when. ______ 3. I know which grocery stores’ garbage bins can be accessed for thrown-away food. ______ 4. I know how to get someone out of jail. ______ 5. I know how to physically fight and defend myself physically. ______ 6. I know how to get a gun, even if I have a police record. ______ 7. I know how to keep my clothes from being stolen at the Laundromat. ______ 8. I know what problems to look for in a used car. ______ 9. I know how to live without a checking account. ______10. I know how to live without electricity and a phone. ______11. I know how to use a knife as scissors. ______12. I can entertain a group of friends with my personality and my stories. ______13. I know what to do when I don’t have money to pay the bills. ______14. I know how to move in half a day. ______15. I know how to get and use food stamps or an electronic card for benefits. ______16. I know where the free medical clinics are. ______17. I am very good at trading and bartering. ______18. I can get by without a car.
COULD YOU SURVIVE IN MIDDLE CLASS? COMPLETE THE QUIZ: Put a check by each item you know how to do. ______1. I know how to get my children into Little League, piano lessons, soccer, etc. ______2. I know how to set a table properly. ______3. I know which stores are most likely to carry the clothing brands my family wears. ______4. My children know the best name brands in clothing. ______5. I know how to order in a nice restaurant. ______6. I know how to use a credit card, checking account, and savings account—and I understand an annuity. I understand term life insurance, disability insurance, and 20/80 medical insurance policy, as well as house, and flood, and replacement insurance. ______7. I talk to my children about going to college. ______8. I know how to get one of the best interest rates on my new-car loan. ______9. I understand the difference among the principal, interest, and escrow statements on my house payment. ______10. I know how to help my children with their homework and do not hesitate to call the school if I need additional information. ______11. I know how to decorate the house for the different holidays. ______12. I know how to get a library card. ______13. I know how to use most of the tools in the garage. ______14. I repair items in my house almost immediately when they break—or know a repair service and call it.
COULD YOU SURVIVE IN WEALTH? COMPLETE THE QUIZ: Put a check by each item you know how to do. ______1. I can read a menu in French, English, and another language. ______2. I have several favorite restaurants in different countries of the world. ______3. During the holidays, I know how to hire a decorator to identify the appropriate themes and items with which to decorate the house. ______4. I know who my preferred financial advisor, legal service, designer, domestic-employment service, and hairdresser are. ______5. I have at least two residences that are staffed and maintained. ______6. I know how to ensure confidentiality and loyalty from my domestic staff. ______7. I have at least two or three “screens” that keep people whom I do not wish to see away from me. ______8. I fly in my own plane or the company plane. ______9. I know how to enroll my children in the preferred private schools. ______10. I know how to host the parties that “key” people attend. ______11. I am on the boards of at least two charities. ______12. I know the hidden rules of the Junior League. ______13. I support or buy the work of a particular artist. ______14. I know how to read a corporate financial statement and analyze my own financial statements.