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Circles® Muskoka

Circles® Muskoka is a community-based initiative that creates relationships across economic boundaries.

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Circles® Muskoka is a community-based initiative that creates relationships across economic boundaries. It matches people of low-income who have attended the Getting Ahead program with community volunteers who have attended Bridges out of Poverty training. Circles stems from an innovative model based on a body of research that suggests in order to help people out of poverty relationships need to exist within the wider community giving lower income families social networks to support and thrive.


The aims of Circles® are to:

 - provide emotional and practical support
 - assist with complex issues and solve problems together
 - build the 'social capital' of people living in low income situations
 - show the community the very real barriers holding people in poverty
 - walk with people in poverty and support life change
 - put into practise the theories learned in Bridges out of Poverty and Getting Ahead

The Circles® approach has been used in over 100 communities and districts in the US and Canada. It is a proven and credible initiative that makes real and ongoing change for individuals and communities. Circles Muskoka launched in Huntsville in January 2016 and has been running as a community based group for five years. A second site was launched in Gravenhurst serving South Muskoka in September 2019. As of September 2020, that group continues to  meeting virtually by Zoom. 

Circles® is comprised of:

Circle Leaders - an individual or family on low income who has completed the Getting Ahead course who is interested in becoming self-sufficient. The Circle Leader works with Allies to build his or her plan developed during Getting Ahead

Allies - volunteer community members trained in Bridges out of Poverty who support and mentor Circle Leaders in the journey. Allies engage in an intentional, caring relationship with an individual or family working to become self-sufficient.  Find out more here!

Weekly community meetings gather Circle Leaders and Allies and other interested community members to provide support and networking opportunities over a meal. Allies also meet monthly on an individual basis with Circle Leaders. Big View meetings are held once per month and feature a far-ranging discussion of the causes of poverty in the community and how to address them thereby creating systemic change along the way.

To read a Stanford review about Circles® click here.

To read a local story about Circles® Huntsville please click here

There are many ways to get involved in Circles®! Whether you're interested in being an ally, cook and serve a meal, or participate in Children's programming, please contact YWCA Muskoka today to find out more information. Volunteers play a very important role in the success of this initiative. Please visit our volunteer page or fill out a YWCA Volunteer application here

Volunteer Job Descriptions:
Ally Description
Other ways to volunteer with Circles 

Donate to Circles today!

For more information contact Liz Angell - Circles Muskoka Coordinator langell@ywcamuskoka.com


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