Local Poverty Campaign Offers Class in Spanish

Local Poverty Campaign Offers Class in Spanish

National poverty fighting campaign offers assistance to Provo’s Impoverished Spanish speakers

The Hispanic population of Utah County has risen dramatically over the last ten years. Because there is a high poverty rate among this group, a national poverty fighting campaign has chosen to offer their assistance in Spanish in an effort to better serve the community.

PROVO, Utah—Oct. 11, 2011—The Circles Initiative, a national poverty fighting campaign, is now offering its first class for local Spanish speakers.

Circles is a program designed to help individuals and families lift themselves out of poverty by developing two-way mentoring relationships.

“Circles is a program that connects people in powerful ways,” said Jane Carlile, Circles Coordinator. “It brings a common understanding and respect for each other and moves us all to becoming our best selves.”

Reports released by the 2010 census show that the Hispanic population in Utah has increased by 77.8 percent in the last 10 years. This is the largest growth among any race in the state.

Nearly 62,000 Utah County residents live in poverty. The poverty rate among Hispanics is double the poverty rate of Caucasians in Utah County. Census statistics show that although 10 percent of Utah County’s population is Hispanic, they account for 20 percent of Utah County’s overall poverty.

To help solve this problem, Provo’s Circles program managers have found and trained volunteers to teach Circles classes in Spanish and have recruited Spanish speaking individuals from the Boulder’s apartment complex to participate.

Class participants set personal goals working toward self-reliance. This is achieved through newly developed social networks that help them understand the hidden rules of other economic classes.

Understanding these hidden rules helps individuals further their education, sustain themselves and their families and eventually be able to contribute more to the community.

National statistics on the Circles program shows that for every $1 invested in the Circles program $2 are returned to the state in the form of cash assistance and food stamp subsidies. That dollar has been shown to generate $4 of new earned income in the community.

The program is continually in need of long-term volunteers to act as Allies for participants, committee members and instructors to teach desired skills to improve the lives of those enrolled in the class.

“The success of Circles really depends on the support and involvement of the community,” Carlile said. “It’s a community issue that needs a community solution. Circles is a critical part of that solution.”

Circles staff is currently seeking partnerships with companies around Provo that have an interest in improving the community. These partnerships could be as minimal as promotion by distributing Circles information at company entrances or providing funding to expand the program.

“Our current source of funding has required us to focus our efforts specifically on the Boulders,” Carlile said. “With more community support and participation we should be able to get the funding to help more people beyond the Boulder’s.”

The majority of the program’s current funding is through a grant from Provo City, which will not continue into 2012.

For more information on how you can get involved, contact Jane Carlile by calling

801-691-5287 or at jcarlile@CommunityActionUC.org.

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