A nationally proven poverty program sets its sights wider in Pittsburgh.

Circles Greater Pittsburgh, one chapter of a national organization that fights generational poverty through intentional, cross-socioeconomic relationships, announces Tammy Thompson as its new executive director, effective July 2018.

New leadership, new initiatives

Formerly the site facilitator of Circles East Liberty, one of four Circles groups in Pittsburgh, for 3 ½ years, Thompson plans to redevelop Circles Greater Pittsburgh and expand its reach through a number of new initiatives. New plans include;

  • transforming Circles Greater Pittsburgh into an educational and job training hub for Circles participants as well as the wider Pittsburgh community,
  • becoming a HUD approved housing counseling agency,
  • launching a local small business incubator program entitled, Catapult: Startup to Storefront,
  • developing an educational engagement program to encourage and train parents in parent engagement activities in neighborhood schools,
  • and developing political education forums to help prepare residents to be more educated and involved in the political process because, as Thompson notes; “It’s imperative that we are making the connection between the political and educational systems and poverty in our communities.”

Making Circles known across Pittsburgh

Circles Greater Pittsburgh New Executive Director_Fighting Poverty in PittsburghThompson says she will achieve these goals through “partnership, partnership, partnership”, working strategically with organizations across the city such as Repair the World, East Liberty Development Inc., Pittsburgh’s Department of Human Services, A+ Schools, and more. Alongside the program expansion, Thompson will also be tasked with identifying other communities that could benefit from having Circles groups and helping them get off the ground, but first and foremost, she says she we will be working hard to provide any support necessary to ensure all of the existing groups are as successful as possible.

“My goal is to make sure that any individuals or families who need help developing a plan to get themselves from poverty to self-sufficiency know that Circles is an option, which means that I’ll be spending a lot of time making sure that communities and organizations know what Circles is and what we do,” Thompson notes.

When reflecting back on her journey to this point, Thompson recognizes the support she’s received from ELDI, a partner organization for the Circles Greater Pittsburgh chapter, and Open Hand Ministries, an organization that works alongside Circles to help participants become first-time homeowners. Thompson previously served as the family development coordinator for Open Hand Ministries.

“Although I’ve been working with ELDI and Michael Stanton of Open Hand Ministries as a consultant, I’ve always felt like I was working with family,” she says.

Tammy looks forward to getting started in her new role: “I’ve learned so much about the importance of building community partnerships and getting the entire community to take ownership of resolving issues of poverty. It’s amazing how much can get done when the community is involved.”

Learn more about and get involved with Circles at circlespgh.org.