Bridges Out of Poverty is a national antipoverty organization that helps people move toward upward mobility.  The focus of Bridges is on socioeconomic class differences, and helping people understand the importance of these factors and how they are related to their lives. 

Reducing the social costs of poverty, strengthening the workforce, and building a more prosperous and sustainable community are goals on which most communities agree. aha! Process’s Bridges Out of Poverty community support program provides a family of concepts, workshops, and products to help employers, community organizations, social service agencies, and individuals address and reduce poverty in a comprehensive way. Bridges brings people from all sectors and economic classes together to improve job retention rates, build resources, improve outcomes, and support those who are moving out of poverty.

One Body Collaboratives (OBC) is the managing organization for the community implementation, including creating a Poverty Reduction Community of Practice and implementing the Getting Ahead curriculum for individuals in poverty.  

Community Need

We likely do not need to reiterate the well-known fact that there is a high level of distress and need in our community related to poverty, crime, jail & prison reentry, absent fathers, single parenting, multiple disparities including in the arenas of education, health, employment and housing, as well as multiple other social issues.  Statistically, Rockford performs poorly with regards to socioeconomic measures. 

Traditional governmental and social service agencies are making valiant efforts trying to address poverty and related social issues in our country and our community, yet the indicator needles are for the most part not moving in the right direction.  Social distress and resource needs are increasing, while hope and available federal, state, and local governmental resources are decreasing.

Implementing a proven curriculum for those in poverty in our community will aid in assisting individuals to build their resources for a more prosperous life for themselves, their families and the community. 

According to our Community Scorecard created by our partners at Transform Rockford, the Rockford MSA had a poverty rate of 13.7% in 2019; ranking us at 44 out of 100 comparable communities.  The goal of Transform Rockford and our Bridges Out of Poverty initiative is to be a top 25 community in these rankings by 2025. We can achieve this, but we must be intentional about it.

An area of concern is generational poverty.  In 2019 23% of our residents under the age of 18 were in poverty, ranking us 69 out of 100 comparable communities. Generational Poverty is defined as a family having lived in poverty for at least two generations.  By providing a way for the parents of these children to build their resources and become self-sufficient we can greatly impact the generational poverty cycle. Another area of concern is the number of full-time workers living in poverty.  In 2019 we ranked 77 out of 101 comparable communities in this metric.

Theory of Change
Bridges Out of Poverty focuses on empowering those in poverty to investigate the barriers in the community that keep people from getting ahead and educates the entire community on the complexities of poverty.  The initiative seeks to empower those in poverty to identify and use the abilities they already have to solve their own problems through analyzing their realities. The Community of Practice will bring together community leaders, faith communities, employers, community organizations, social service agencies, and individuals address and reduce poverty in a comprehensive way.

Bridges Out of Poverty has a set of measurements for the Getting Ahead curriculum.  The measurements indicate how resources and stability increase for graduates, there are also Return on Investment indicators for graduates of the program.  The Bridges Out of Poverty support program helps communities:

  • Move individuals from poverty to self-sufficiency
  • Reduce social costs related to crime, poor health, and welfare
  • Strengthen educational attainment and job skills
  • Enhance economic development
  • Improve on-the-job productivity
  • Revitalize neighborhoods
  • Build sustainable communities where everyone can live well

Recognized as a National Best Practice
Our project was named a National Best Practice and we were invited to provide a breakout session at the Bridges Out of Poverty National conference that was hosted in September 2021. This provided us with an opportunity to share data on our project with our peers in other communities.

Click here to view the 2022 Project Results Report. 

Bridges Out of Poverty Overview video:

To stay updated on our project, join our Bridges Out of Poverty Rockford Region Facebook Group, you can find it here: Bridges Out of Poverty Rockford Region | Facebook

For more information, or to become a partner is this program, please contact Mary Cacioppi, Project Manager, Bridges Out of Poverty Rockford Region by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..