Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. -Nelson Mandela

Financial poverty is pervasive in Riley County. Per the US Census, 24% of individuals in Riley County live in poverty. 35.4% of students in USD 383 receive free or reduced lunch, indicating they are living in households making less than 185% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, and there are more than 300 children classified as homeless by the school district.

Thrive! works to reduce financial poverty by building skills and relationships that strengthen families and individuals while working toward a vision of ending generational poverty in our community. Our program is based upon a body of research indicating that for individuals and families to increase their resources, they must have increased social capital (peer support) within the community. Our program started in March 2015, as part of Circles USA. In August 2016, the Board of Directors of Circles Manhattan made the decision to no longer affiliate with Circles USA due to a change in focus from the national organization and because of the excessive cost of annual dues. Our organization continues to do the same important work of reducing financial instability and strengthening families, but under the name of Thrive!

Teamwork… People from all economic classes come together to understand the challenges of living in financial poverty in our community.

Hard work… Leaders (individuals and families experiencing financial instability) partner with allies (volunteers from the community) to create Thrive! Teams, a long-term small group that works together to build resources that support lasting change.

Relationship focused… Healthy relationships provide support in times of trouble, celebration in times of joy, and accountability to achieve goals.

Investors… An investment of one’s time, talent, and treasure in Thrive! is changing the future for the next generation, alleviating generational poverty.

Voice… Obstacles exist in our community that negate the hard work of families and individuals living with financial instability – transportation, housing, living wages, affordable childcare, etc. Together, we raise awareness and advocate for change.

End Poverty… Poverty is multi-generational. Our weekly Thrive! Club is just for youth. Similar to adult participants, our youth build skills and relationships that empower them to thrive.

Would you like to get involved? Thrive! meets weekly on Tuesday nights from 5:45 – 8 pm at the Harris Activity Center (530 Poyntz Ave.). Contact <jayme@thriveflinthills.com> or visit http://www.thriveflinthills.com for more information.

Join Thrive on February 25 for a Poverty Simulation experience at the Harris Activity Center, First Methodist Church, on Poyntz Ave, from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Registration is required. To signup, contact <ali@thriveflinthills.com> or register online at http://www.fumcmanhattan.com/events

Originally published in the MAPJ NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2017 p. 3.

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