Support a client as a volunteer mentor/friend with the ATLAS program!
What is Atlas in Elizabethtown?
Atlas is a high impact, long-term initiative that empowers low-income participants to permanently move out of poverty by using individual personal planning and goal setting, along with the support of “intentional friends” and the community. Atlas engages community members, leaders and mentors across socio-economic lines to change the conversations around and about poverty. All participants learn from each other, about poverty and about pathways of self-sufficiency, through relationships and community advocacy.
How does Atlas Work?
Atlas works intensively with motivated low-income families and individuals as they achieve financial stability and reach their personal goals. Participants begin by attending 10-12 weeks of “Getting Ahead” training that provides the focus for the next 12 months (minimum) during which participants work to build resources (financial, emotional, etc.). They are then matched with Allies (intentional friends) who provide supportive friendship and encouragement as they work together toward personal goals. Allies are community volunteers who have a vested interest in helping to alleviate poverty, and who have traditionally come from a more stable financial background. Two or more Allies provide support for each participant/family. These support groups meet regularly to learn from each other, review goals, develop strategies for attaining self-sufficiency and to provide friendship and peer support. A family style meal and child care are provided free during these meetings.
What makes Atlas Effective?
- Participants create their own personal goals and identify the support they need to attain them. These goals are reviewed regularly with their Allies and support group.
- The Atlas group is relatively small and each person in poverty is supported by 2-3 Allies, as well as by the entire group.
- Atlas does not provide financial assistance, but strives to resolve the roots of poverty.
- Atlas intends to be a community movement, rather than an isolated program. We want to work
long-term with those in poverty and to provide holistic support for participants.
- The long-term goal of Atlas is to address systemic and community level barriers to prosperity and to develop strategies to remove them.
What participants have said about Atlas
- “I believe Atlas is a powerful tool to empower people in poverty to integrate with different social backgrounds.”
- “We learn from each other!”
- “I felt supported in my goals.”
- “I learned so many things I had not thought of before.””I discovered there are many resources in our community!”