Building Community To End Poverty

aka Circles USA   |   Rapid City, SD   |


Circles® provides opportunities that inspire and equip families and communities to resolve poverty and thrive. Our mission has always been to inspire and equip families and communities to thrive and resolve poverty. We believe strongly that responsibility for both poverty and prosperity rests not only in the hands of individuals, but also with societies, institutions, and communities. In the US, our presence spans 22 states and There are 19 Circles locations in Ontario, Canada. We're inspired by the work that occurs at each location and by the passion and commitment of both our volunteers and participants. Their stories of success demonstrate what we've believed all along – when communities come together and the right techniques are utilized, great change can occur.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Ms. Jamie Haft

Main address

2621 Arrowhead Drive

Rapid City, SD 57702 USA

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NTEE code info

Leadership Development (W70)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

To inspire and equip communities to end poverty: We as a nation must commit to eradicating poverty. To that end, the Circles USA board has made a commitment to bringing the Circles approach to 10% of all U.S. counties and major cities within 10 years.
The communities we support must commit to design and implement plans to reduce the poverty rate by at least 10% within 10 years.
We must engage with the business community and together insist that government activates the phantom workforce. The first obstacle is to eliminate the Cliff Effect disincentives that prevent people who are otherwise willing and able to work from advancing in their current jobs or seeking better-paying jobs (the phantom workforce).

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?


Circles Campaign is approximately $7M invested by more than 175 foundations, United Ways, individuals, and government agencies for the purpose of learning how to help families out of poverty using middle and upper income volunteers known as Allies.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


Breaking the Cycle Award 2019

Tsuha Foundation

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Earned Income

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Economically disadvantaged people

Related Program


Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success


Context Notes

In 2021, the primary indicator of progress in Circles is an increase in earned income. On average, Circle Leaders earned 34 more income after 6 mos, 49% more after 1 year, & 70% more in 18 months.


This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Economically disadvantaged people

Related Program


Type of Metric

Other - describing something else

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Circle Leaders often pursue education and training to earn more income. In 2021 Circle Leaders gained increases in certifications (34%), four-year degrees (12%), and graduate degrees (27%)

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our goal is to bring Circles to 300 of the 3007 US Counties, and 30 of the 297 cities with populations of 100,000 or more by 2026.

Like any 1,000-mile journey, there must be achievable benchmarks along the way. Given the potential of the 10% tipping point theory, we have set the short-term goal at reducing poverty rates in our targeted communities by 10% within 10 years. While daunting, we believe it represents a SMART goal for communities: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

To accomplish this, we must have three things in place:

1. A commitment from community champions to reduce poverty by 10%;

2. A theory of change to reduce poverty and business plans to do so;

3. New resources to staff the effort.

Circle Leaders move out of poverty by surrounding them with a support network of dedicated peers and community volunteers known as Allies who support their economic stability plan.

What is unique about Circles is that it partners people from all socioeconomic backgrounds together to help increase the prosperity of individuals, families and the community.

In the process, Circle Leaders, gain a greater awareness and understanding of issues related to poverty, empowering the community as a whole with the knowledge necessary to end poverty.

Circles works with existing organizations and is part of the national Circles® movement to end poverty. Circles® works to build community resources, relationships, and understanding to bridge the gap between poverty and overall well-being. At Circles, we envision a community where everyone has enough resources, relationships, and hope to thrive.

The Tipping Point & Circles USA's Role
Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society.

“When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority. Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame," said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer.

Inspired by this provocative research, The Circles USA Board of Directors has approved a major, high-impact strategic plan to achieve a 10% tipping point in the United States to eradicate poverty! By 2021, we plan to have Circles in 10% of all counties (300 of 3000 counties) and 30 of the 300 major cities.

Circles USA will engage with communities interested in the tipping point by supporting these four stage of development:

ASSESSMENT—Asking questions: “Is Circles right for our community? Do we have the leadership and resources to start a Circles program in our community?"
CIRCLES IN THE MAKING—Getting started: If your community is ready and willing to start Circles, you will enter into a planning agreement with Circles USA (CUSA) to lay the foundation.
CIRCLES DEMONSTRATION—Taking action: You are now implementing Circles to support families out of poverty, collecting data, and assessing outcomes. You are asking, “How is it working in our community? Do we like the results we are getting? Have we been able to secure resources to sustain and grow the Circles program?"
SCALING TO A TIPPING POINT—Moving forward: You are happy with the results and can see the potential of growing Circles in your community to end poverty.
As Circle Leader graduate Rebecca says, “We have changed our lives so profoundly that we will not move back into poverty again."

How many more children do we have to raise in poverty before it is gone? How many more families will we let live with the constant anxiety of not having enough money to meet their basic needs? It's overwhelming and we can end the suffering so that everyone has a real opportunity to get out of poverty and thrive.

The time has come to intentionally pursue the end of poverty in our nation, in our lifetime!

Our goal is to be in 10% of all US counties (300)
and 10% of all metro communities with 100K population or more (30)

We are currently in 68 counties and 20 metro communities

Earned income gains for all chapters is being calculated via new data system.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    A Circles USA chapter gathers people who are motivated to move out of poverty and matches them with middle-income and high-income volunteers who can support and encourage them on their journey. Through online or in-person training and weekly meetings, participants (called Circles Leaders) build friendships with volunteers (called Allies). Over time, these relationships help families climb out of poverty and achieve financial stability. The opportunities and obstacles families experience are shared with the larger community, so successes can be celebrated and the barriers can be overcome. Circles USA helps launch new Circles chapters and helps existing chapters expand into multiple locations within a community.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, phone calls or emails,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Rolling out virtual Circles and providing civic engagement material to support the big view efforts of chapters.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    It has strengthened the relationships with the Circles network and with individuals.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.


Board of directors
as of 02/25/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Joan Kuriansky

Joan Kuriansky

James Masters

Jennifer Pelling

Christy Vines

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/25/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 02/25/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.