How do I become an Ally?
Prospective Allies must complete the following preparation steps:

  • Attend a Circles Overview session. These 45-minute sessions will help you understand the model and what is required to be in a Circle and are on the fourth Thursday of every month at 4 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 309 E. Adams. .
  • Fill out an information form and an interest form available from the Coach or TEAMwork staff. Indicate your interests and background.
  • Unless you have lived in poverty, attend a Poverty Simulation, a 2 hour role play activity that teaches some of the frustrations and issues associated with trying to manage life in poverty.
  • Take an “Understanding People in Poverty”– usually a 2-2 ½- hour workshop that teaches participants about hidden rules of middle class that keep some people in poverty from being successful.
  • Complete another a 10 or so hours of training over several weeks or months including Toolkit Training to prepare you for how to structure the Circle You will learn how to utilize the help of the Circles Coach, and how to avoid the pitfalls that may arise as you work to help your Circle Leader become self-sufficient.

What is the time commitment of being an Ally?
In general, each month you will need to attend one 1-1 1/2 hour Circles meeting where you are working with you Circle Leader on goals. Then you will try to make it to two weekly Circle Café dinners/meetings, for a total of about 5-5 1/2 hours. Consistent effort to be a part of the Big View meetings is expected, as well as “checking in” on the Circle Leader and occasionally being involved with him/her on a more personal level, steps that could slightly increase time commitment.

Is my commitment to this Circle long-term?
Unless you have a difficult personality clash with the Circle Leader and you both mutually agree through the Circles Evaluation Process that your involvement is not working or if a life-changing emergency precludes you from participating, you will be expected to be a part of your Circle for a minimum of 18 months. It takes time to get to know a person and their issues and to develop the trust to make the model work. To leave any sooner is a disservice to the Circle Leader’s effort to be successful. In most situations, Circle members become lifetime friends whose connections last long after the Circle has ended.

Am I expected to make a monetary donation to my Circle Leader?
Allies provide friendship and direction for the Circle Leaders. They are encouraged not to give money to their Circle Leaders.

How is the Circle Leader’s progress evaluated?
Captains undergo an intake process with the Circles  Coach, who uses a tool called the Family Development Matrix to determine whether the Captain is in crisis or thriving in a variety of life issues ranging from housing to employment and transportation to health. Muncie is also collecting data to be shared with the Circles USA.

If this work becomes difficult and I am feeling that I may be “in over my head,” how can I find the support I need?
Periodic Ally Support meetings are a part of the Circles Café meetings so Allies can come together to listen to and encourage each other. This is done with the utmost caution so as not to divulge personal issues the Circle Leaders are facing.

How will our Circle® know when the Circle Leader is ready to move forward without the support of the Circle®?
In general, you will just know. The Circle Leaders will have surmounted the obstacles holding his/her goals. However, the statistical measure of the achievement will be when the Captain reaches at least 200% of poverty, based on federal poverty guidelines and has enough other resources to be successful.

Is this model being used anywhere else?
The Circles® model is being used or is starting up in more than 70 communities around the nation.

How do I start a Circles initiative in my area?
Beginning a Circles® Campaign involves identifying a lead organization and speaking with someone at the Circles USA headquarters. Check www.cusa.org for more information.