Circles Joplin, part of a nationally-recognized program with proven results in more than 80 communities, began in 2013.  Circles is all about building relationships.  Together, everyday men and women figure out how to do life better.  Community members help participants find better ways to budget, resolve conflict, and gain the skills needed for successful employment.  The best part about Circles is the fact that participants are changing their own lives.  No handouts are given.  People are supporting one another through friendship and fellowship to make life better for our whole community. 

Circles is a community collaboration in partnership with the national Circles program and the United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas.



The Circles program reduces the number of families and individuals who rely on government programs and charitable aid. More importantly, it breaks the cycle of poverty as graduates teach their children how to get ahead, not just get by. The program can increase the number of educated workers in the community, reduce unemployment rate and increase the tax base, which results in a more prosperous and healthy community. Circles has a proven track record for success nationwide and has already begun changing lives right here at home.



We believe no one should live in poverty. Families and communities can take charge of their destinies. And if given the right tools and support, economic stability can be achieved. We see it happen in our chapters every day. Through an approach that combines our techniques with the individualized support of our dedicated volunteers and the resources of organizations and communities, we create an environment that educates, empowers and equips our members to move up and out of poverty successfully.

We discovered many years ago that in order to solve the issue of poverty, we had to approach things in a very different way. The solution doesn’t have to be complicated but it has to be personal. We know that in order to make a real change it has to be addressed using a multi-dimensional method. Our method has impacted thousands of individuals throughout North America. Here’s how it works:

  • Community leaders and/or organizations work with Circles to establish a local chapter.
  • This begins with localized trainings. We take a collaborative approach during implementation by building on the strengths of existing community-based organizations.
  • Our model focuses on three stages: Crisis management and stabilization, education and job placement and job retention, advancement and economic stability.

Local chapters sponsor groups of up to 25 participants who are known as Circle Leaders. They are asked to:

  • Enroll in the Circles Leadership Training Class to build financial, emotional and social resources as well as an Economic Stability Plan,
  • Partner with trained middle- to high-income community volunteers, called Allies, who support a Circle Leader’s efforts through networking, listening and guidance,
  • Attend weekly community meetings with peers, Allies and other interested community members for planning, support and networking opportunities, and
  • Attend monthly Big View meetings, which include community discussions around systemic barriers to escaping poverty and the strategies needed to remove them.