Circles of Troup County works to provide financial literacy and reduce county poverty
Published 9:00 am Tuesday, August 15, 2023
For over 10 years, Circles of Troup County has been teaching life skills, goal-setting and financial literacy, designed for people who struggle with money.
Beginning with a 12-week class for participants and volunteers, Circles of Troup County works with people who are motivated to move out of poverty and matches them with middle- and high-income volunteers who can support and encourage them on their journey.
After completing the class, participants are matched with volunteers and continue to attend the weekly meetings with others working toward financial goals. Over time, the relationships made in the program help families achieve financial stability.
Sherri Brown, executive director of Circles of Troup County, said the organization’s mission is to reduce poverty in the community.
According to Brown, 22.4% of residents in Troup County live in poverty, including 34% of children in Troup County.
“One, we work one-on-one with families who want to become financially stable, and we help them set goals to achieve that over a long period of time. Secondly, we educate, raise awareness and advocate to reduce barriers in our community that keep people from getting ahead in life,” Brown said.
“If you’re not making it, don’t make enough money, don’t know how to make your money stretch, if you’re struggling with paying your bills on time every month, come on over, and
we can help you figure out how to make it work.”
Brown said the class meets weekly at 6:15 p.m. on Thursdays at the Troup Baptist Association located on 1301 Washington St. She said 20 – 25 people typically attend.
“We don’t have emergency resources. We don’t give money. We don’t give food. We don’t have housing or jobs, but we have ways to get that. We can help you figure out how to get what you need,” Brown said
She said the organization collaborates with almost every local nonprofit and often gets referrals from them.
“We get referrals from the court system, the school system will sometimes send us people, and we do the same in return. If we have someone in our program that needs the services at say Harmony House, we’re going to connect them with that,” Brown said. “Our goal is self-sufficiency financially, but emergencies do happen. If there are issues, we can help connect them the proper resource that could help them with whatever they may need.”
Brown said the program has seen success over the years. She said participants achieve a 30% increase in income after six months and a 76% increase in income after 18 months. Participants continue to increase their income even after the 18-month period.
“Changing what you do and how you do it is challenging. We provide a community and a culture to help participants thrive, but they have to do the work to get there,” Brown said.
Brown said they are currently taking applications and have already set a new record for interest from the community.
“I’ve got more than 30 applications right now, and that’s the most I’ve ever had at one time. I’m thrilled to see an increased interest in Circles, but there will be people that will have to wait due to the amount of space we have,” Brown said.
“People are having a really hard time right now. Inflation has kicked everybody, housing has gone up, food has gone up, transportation costs are crazy high and people are really struggling right now. We want to help people navigate these times and use the financial skills and resources we can help them with.”
For more information on Circles of Troup County, visit circlesoftroup.org/.