We want people to know what poverty is, rather than what they think it is, so that we can build a more empathetic community where there are less barriers for people experiencing poverty.
— Shane Clarke, Bridges Out of Poverty, London, Ontario

What is the SCC Opportunity Network?

The Southern Chester County Opportunity Network (SCCON) is a community-wide initiative, made up of a growing group of people who want to see poverty addressed in comprehensive, collaborative ways in our community.

SCCON's work is based on the Bridges Out of Poverty model - a framework for understanding poverty through the lens of economic class and addressing it in a comprehensive way. It asks all sectors of the community - business, nonprofit, education, local governments, etc. - to come to the table and engages those in poverty as problem solvers.

Bridges is a set of concepts, strategies and tools that have been used in communities across the country to tackle the roots of poverty, from the individual to the systemic levels. It is based on a 2001 book published by Dr. Ruby K. Payne, Philip DeVol, & Terie Dreussi Smith based on their experience in the fields of education and social services, and has now grown into a continuously evolving community of practice.

Why Bridges out of Poverty?

In 2014, a group of local nonprofit leaders and volunteers began to gather and ask each other: what can we do to move beyond charity - "quick fix" solutions for those in need - to a community that provides a way up and out for those experiencing poverty? 

We believe that creating a community where everyone can thrive is a task that belongs to all of us. Bridges Out of Poverty provides a model to bring people together across economic class and sector to do the work that none of us can do alone.

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What does this look like in action?

1. Bridges Out of Poverty Trainings

Introduces community members and social service professionals to the Bridges concepts in a half- or full-day training. Over 300 community members have been trained to date! Trainings are currently being conducted by Kennett Area Community Service and The Constellation Network staff.

Find out when the next training is or request a training for your organization, church group, or business by contacting us: kuhler@theconstellationnetwork.com.

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2. Getting Ahead

A16-week workshop designed for those experiencing poverty. Through facilitated roundtable discussions, participants explore the causes of poverty in their own lives and in the community and make plans to build resources for a better life. Getting Ahead graduates are an integral part of our community action work (see below), bringing with them the lived experience as our local “experts” on poverty. Over 70 individuals have graduated so far from this incredibly impactful program and planning for additional workshops is currently underway!

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3. community action

The "magic" of this initiative happens when those who have graduated from Getting Ahead and those who are committed to supporting them come together to discuss the barriers and opportunities to moving out of poverty in our community. That’s why we need YOU at the table.

Our Community Meetings are open to all community members and take place quarterly (every 3 months), always on the third Tuesday from 6:00-7:30pm. Our next community meeting will take place on Tuesday, April 16th from 6:00-7:30pm at West Grove United Methodist Church.

In between our Community Meetings is where the real action takes place, through each of our "Discovery Groups," action teams that were formed to address the issues our Getting Ahead graduates have identified as crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty in our area. These groups are made up of community members from all backgrounds and are in need of more committed individuals to push their work forward.

Find out more about what the Discovery Groups are doing and how you can get involved here.

Questions? Ideas? Thoughts? Reach out to us directly and let’s have a conversation. We also encourage you to sign up for the SCCON mailing list below so we can keep you in the loop.


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resources & more information

Check out this short video on the Bridges Out of Poverty community process.

Other Bridges-based initiatives:

Schenectady Works, Schenectady, NY

Factory Ministries, Paradise, PA

Bucks County Opportunity Council, Bucks County, PA