Here are some of the commonly asked community development questions we receive regarding Bridges Out of Poverty. If you don’t see your question/answer here or still need more information, please call us at (800) 424-9484, or contact us here.

What is Bridges Out of Poverty?
  • Bridges Out of Poverty is a proven way to counter poverty and its impact on people and businesses in your community.
  • Bridges Out of Poverty is a series of best practices, ideas, and concrete tools with proven results that brings people from all economic classes together to address all causes of poverty in order to build resources, improve job retention rates, reduce health inequities, improve outcomes, and support those who are moving out of poverty.
  • Bridges Out of Poverty is also a book that has inspired many innovative practices. It has developed into an approach that helps employers, community organizations, social service agencies, and individuals (1) build individual assets, (2) build community assets (human and social capital), and (3) acknowledge and reduce exploitation and advocate for political/economic policy change.
What makes Bridges Out of Poverty different?
  • It is important to note that Bridges Out of Poverty is not a program. It is a set of comprehensive constructs and strategies that can be used by programs and initiatives that aim to help people move out of poverty and build sustainability.
  • Bridges is both flexible and dynamic. Flexible because each organization or community can adapt the Bridges model to address its own unique challenges, and dynamic because Bridges tools grow and adapt as individual, organizational, and community goals change.


Bridges Resources FAQs

What are the major Bridges resources, and who are the target audiences?
  • Bridges resources include published materials (printed and electronic), workshops delivered on-site and online, and national training events. Resources are available for those who work with people in poverty and for under-resourced individuals seeking to build greater self-sufficiency.
What are the core printed Bridges resources?
  • Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities is a foundational resource for those working with people in poverty as professionals or volunteers and for community members looking to build a community where all can live well. Bridges helps people of all socioeconomic classes understand the tyranny of living in constant survival mode in poverty. It also helps individuals and their organizations create more opportunities for sustainable success.
  • Bridges to Sustainable Communities: A Systemwide, Cradle-to-Grave Approach to Ending Poverty in America includes clear examples and proven best practices for what’s possible when all stakeholders—people in poverty, communities, businesses, and organizations—are on the same page. It is a collection of articles by Philip DeVol, coauthor of Bridges Out Of Poverty and a leading voice in helping people come together to end poverty. These papers give you new models, ideas, applications, and tools that present guidelines and action steps.
  • Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World is a workbook for people in poverty that shows how to use the hidden rules of economic class to build up financial, emotional, social, and other resources. Understanding the hidden rules of the middle class and wealth, and choosing to use them, can open doors to new relationships, new jobs, and higher resources.
  • These books are available in the aha! Process online store. Click here to visit the store now.
What are the core Bridges workshops?
  • The three workshops described below, delivered on-site, provide a solid grounding in the Bridges model.
    • To book a workshop, call (800) 424-9484.
What Bridges certifications are offered? 
  • Bridges Trainer Certification is a three-day seminar offered twice yearly at a national location. It prepares participants to present Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities and Bridges Out of Poverty: Applying Bridges Concepts to employees of their own organizations and to others for whom participants provide training on a regular basis as part of their job descriptions.
  • The purpose of trainer certification is to build in organizational sustainability and develop individuals to serve as resources for organizational and community initiatives to eliminate poverty. Click to find out more about Bridges events or our Trainer Certification page.
What training is available for individuals wishing to facilitate Getting Ahead groups?
  • Getting Ahead Facilitator Training is a one-day workshop offered twice yearly as an optional fourth day of Bridges Trainer Certification.
  • With sufficient demand, the training can be delivered on-site.
  • Training prepares participants to facilitate Getting Ahead programs in their organizations and communities.


Getting Started with Bridges FAQs

How do we get started in our community with Bridges Out of Poverty?
  • There are typically six steps to getting started with Bridges:
  1. Learn about Bridges constructs by reading Bridges to Sustainable Communities.
  2. Introduce Bridges to the community by offering Bridges workshops.
    • Option: Using Bridges consultants, provide three-hour Bridges overviews and planning sessions with those who are most interested in starting a Bridges initiative.
    • Option: Using Bridges consultants, provide one or more full-day Bridges workshops to the community at large.
  3. Gather the people who are attracted to the concepts to develop a plan with the assistance of a Bridges consultant
  4. Develop a team of certified Bridges trainers to spread the Bridges concepts throughout the community
  5. Engage people in poverty by offering Getting Ahead workshops.
  6. Develop a Bridges steering committee to support Getting Ahead graduates as they transition out of poverty and to develop, monitor, and evaluate the Bridges initiative.
What about P–12 and higher education? Aren’t they important for a communitywide effort too?
  • Yes. Don’t forget your educational partners. Invite them to attend community training events, and let them know that aha! Process also offers training solutions specifically for them: A Framework for Understanding Poverty and related workshops for P–12 and College Achievement Alliance for higher education.


Bridges Out of Poverty Trainer Certification FAQs

How can I be trained to present the workshops Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities and Bridges Out of Poverty: Applying Bridges in my organization?
  • We offer trainer certification in Bridges Out of Poverty workshops twice a year at a national location. Please check out our events page for our next available training. With sufficient demand, we can also provide private trainer certification in your organization or community.
What is the difference between the two-year certification and lifetime certification?
  • The two-year certification expires December 31 of the second year after your original certification (e.g., if you certify in June 2013, your certification expires in December 2015). You will need to recertify online in order to keep your certification current.
  • The lifetime certification does not have an expiration date. You are not required to recertify in order to continue training. You will be offered the opportunity to attend one online recertification per calendar year at no cost if you would like a refresher.
I have attended the Bridges workshop to fulfill the prerequisite for the trainer certification, but I do not have a certificate to verify my attendance.
  • You will not be required to show proof of attendance at the prerequisite workshop. The trainer certification workshop is designed with the understanding that all participants have already been trained in Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities. We find that participants who have not completed the prerequisite do not get the full benefit of the trainer certification workshop.


Bridges in Action FAQs

What proof is there that Bridges Out of Poverty really works?
  • Organizations and communities that apply Bridges measure success in a variety of ways depending on the goals of their initiatives. For example:
    • Columbiana County Municipal Court in Ohio saved $65,000 in court fees and medical expenses for indigent defendants—without compromising the integrity of the court system—when it used knowledge gained from Bridges Out of Poverty to remove obstacles for under-resourced individuals. For more information, see Criminal Justice Results and Best Practices.  
    • Cascade Engineering’s welfare to work program—based on Bridges constructs and strategies—has dramatically reduced turnover in entry-level positions and, the Grand Rapids, Michigan, company estimates, saved millions of dollars in social costs. For more information, see Business Results and Best Practices. For more information about these and other initiatives, visit the results pages for the Business, Community, Criminal Justice, and Health sectors.
What is the relationship between Bridges Out of Poverty and the Circles Campaign?
  • The Circles Campaign uses the concepts found in Bridges and Getting Ahead, presented in partnership with the publisher, aha! Process, and DeVol & Associates.
  • These concepts engage people of all classes, races, sectors, and political persuasions in the work of ending poverty and building communities where everyone can live well.
    • Bridges and Getting Ahead provide a common language for guiding coalitions, allies, and circle leaders.
    • The application of Bridges and Getting Ahead constructs provides an accurate mental model of poverty and class, a way to build relationships of mutual respect, an understanding of the barriers faced by people who are transitioning out of poverty, and a comprehensive, systemic way to address all the causes of poverty.
What is MPOWR, and how can it help a communitywide initiative to end poverty?
  • MPOWR is a Web-based plan-management program that allows all community-based organizations to work together on coordinated, common plans to provide needed services that address individual, family, and community needs. This program allows all governmental, social service, faith-based, and private community organizations to work together with the participants who are receiving services in their community’s human-service delivery system. Developed by Bridges Out of Poverty and Community Collaboration and Integration, MPOWR reduces agency time for clients, enhances communication within the social service sector, and helps measure program effectiveness. Click here for more information.


Bridges Getting Involved FAQs

I attended a Bridges training. Now what?
  • There are several steps you can take after you’ve attended a Bridges training.
    • If your community has Bridges initiatives going on, see how you can become involved.
    • If your community doesn’t have Bridges initiatives, see what you can start; it takes just a single spark to light a flame.
    • Talk about what you’ve learned with your colleagues, professional associates, and friends. See who is attracted to the work and what synergy you can build.
    • Look for ways to implement Bridges in your workplace. It can be as simple as changing the way you do things in your job—or as complex as catalyzing change throughout your organization.
    • Look for ways to implement Bridges in your family, your neighborhood, your church, and volunteer activities.
    • Begin to view community issues through the lens of socioeconomic class. Become an advocate for policies and solutions that benefit people in poverty and build sustainable communities.
    • Expand your knowledge. Keep reading Bridges materials, attending Bridges workshops, and consider becoming a certified Bridges trainer.
How can I contribute my experience and expertise to helping others by using Bridges Out of Poverty?
  • There are many opportunities for you to tell your story:
    • You might write a blog entry or a best-practice article for our website, contribute a best-practice article to our biannual publication, or give a presentation at the annual national community building conference.
    • You might become a member of one or more communities of practice in healthcare, business, criminal justice, or community; serve as a sector leader in one of those areas; or serve as a sector consultant.
What are communities of practice?
  • Communities of practice are informal networks of individuals utilizing Bridges in healthcare, business, criminal justice, or community.
  • Community of practice members share information about best practices in their sector with each other in quarterly teleconferences or via phone or email. To sign up for a community of practice, email bridges@ahaprocess.com.
What are sector leaders?
  • Sector leaders serve as resources for members of communities of practice. They also organize, publicize, and moderate quarterly teleconferences. To volunteer as a sector leader, email bridges@ahaprocess.com.
What is a Bridges community?
  • A Bridges community is a community that has worked, or is working toward, an organized, systemic Bridges initiative as described by Philip DeVol in the book Bridges to Sustainable Communities.
  • Attributes of a Bridges community include a steering committee or other guiding body, with all socioeconomic classes at the table, that is representative of the community; certified Bridges trainers in one or more organizations; one or more Getting Ahead programs; and Bridges applications utilized by at least one sector.
  • There is no formal “litmus test” to be a Bridges community. Bridges communities identify themselves as such, and Bridges Out of Poverty maintains an informal list for purposes of connecting communities with each other for mutual support. To see a map, click here.  To join the roster of Bridges communities, email bridges@ahaprocess.com.


Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World FAQs

What is the goal of Getting Ahead?
  • Getting Ahead is a way to analyze one’s own life and to make plans for building personal and family resources. It is an agenda-free learning experience that helps people take charge of their lives.
  • Getting Ahead is a way for people in poverty to become involved in building communities where everyone can live well.
  • Getting Ahead investigators provide vital concrete information that planners need if they are going to address poverty effectively. Getting Ahead investigators define what poverty is like locally.
  • Getting Ahead graduates provide accurate information on the barriers they encounter as they begin to transition out of poverty. Bridges steering committees (collaboratives that use Bridges concepts) can use the information to reduce barriers and to develop comprehensive approaches to ending poverty.
  • Compliance is not the goal. Don’t expect Getting Ahead graduates to become “compliant.” Getting Ahead graduates are more likely to be focused and involved people who are in motion and self-directed.
What kinds of groups have used Getting Ahead?
  • Getting Ahead has been used by neighborhoods, nonprofits, colleges, and faith-based and governmental organizations that serve people in poverty. Examples include courts, domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, housing programs, mental health clinics, prisons, colleges, technical schools, literacy programs, hospitals and other healthcare employers, high schools, public health departments, and Circles initiatives.
  • Some Getting Ahead groups are open to anyone in the community, and organizations usually accept referrals from more than one organization. For example, in Columbiana County, Ohio, the judge, social workers, schools, pastors, and governmental agencies invited people to attend the Getting Ahead group. Other Getting Ahead groups are for people at a single organization, a domestic violence shelter or housing program, for example. Some communities, like South Bend, Indiana, have a collaborative approach where one organization takes responsibility for coordinating the effort and partners with agencies across the community.
How were the groups introduced to Getting Ahead?
  • The organizations that offer Getting Ahead typically learn about it during Bridges workshops. Bridges trainers who teach the core Bridges constructs/ideas help the audience see what they can do next, like offering Getting Ahead to people in poverty, or changing the design of their programs, or coming together as a community to address poverty in a comprehensive way.
  • Some people learn about Getting Ahead by word of mouth or through our websites, but it’s important that people who are considering offering a Getting Ahead program attend a full-day Bridges workshop. It’s important that providers of Getting Ahead understand the core constructs of Bridges.
Who starts Getting Ahead? Is it a community-based Bridges initiative or an individual organization’s decision?
  • It happens both ways. In Boulder, Colorado, a community plan was formed to introduce Bridges and Getting Ahead. In fact, from the outset, the plan included a Bridges Trainer Certification and a Getting Ahead Facilitator Training.
  • In Schenectady, New York, City Mission offered Getting Ahead to people involved in their programs. From there Getting Ahead and the Bridges initiative spread to the drug court, and before long the hospital was using Bridges concepts too. A Bridges steering committee is now driving the changes in the community.
How long does it take an organization to become committed to Getting Ahead?
  • Not long at all. This can happen in 4–12 months if the CEO wants to offer Getting Ahead right away. The steps would be to train staff in Bridges, train facilitators, recruit Getting Ahead investigators, and begin the 20-session workshop.
  • But running Getting Ahead is actually the easy part. The hard part is preparing the community to support Getting Ahead graduates as they begin building their resources.
How long does it take a community to become committed to Getting Ahead?
  • Your community at large will become committed to Getting Ahead graduates as soon as they meet them. The only community development question is: How early in the process will your community become intentional about helping people get out of poverty? Without that, you can have lots of Getting Ahead graduates with no place to go. It’s the long-term support that is needed. There are a number of ways that support is provided. To learn more, read “Support for Getting Ahead Graduates” on pages 33–43 in Facilitator Notes for Getting Ahead.
  • The steps would be to train lots of people and many organizations in Bridges, formalize the intention to provide Getting Ahead and to support the graduates, ideally start a Bridges steering committee, start Getting Ahead at a minimum of one site, and monitor and support the initiative.
  • Getting Ahead can become part of the community response to ending poverty if the community puts in place the needed supports for the Getting Ahead graduates. Otherwise it remains an education program and implies that it is up to the individual alone to find his or her way out of poverty.
In which direction do Getting Ahead graduates typically go, and what kinds of support do they need?
  • Some Getting Ahead graduates will focus on stabilizing their worlds. For this they will need support from the typical governmental, nongovernmental, and faith-based organizations for housing, transportation, childcare, and safety.
  • Some Getting Ahead graduates will focus on building particular resources, like physical (health issues and recovery from addictions, for example), emotional (dealing with domestic violence, family crises, and building emotional management skills), financial (dealing with savings, IDAs, housing, creditors, and predators), and spiritual. For this they will need support from typical governmental, nongovernmental, and faith-based organizations.
  • Some Getting Ahead graduates will focus on mental resources. An education that leads to a good paying job is a way out of poverty. Getting Ahead graduates will need support to get GEDs, certifications, and college degrees. Community colleges, apprentice programs, unions, and workforce development sites can be important partners. Those institutions will need to be engaged by the Bridges steering committee.
  • Some Getting Ahead graduates will focus on getting and keeping jobs. A good-paying job is a way out of poverty. The community can do a lot to support entry-level graduates in their first year of work by using the proven methods of Cascade Engineering, Cincinnati Works, The Source, and Working Bridges. It can also support Getting Ahead graduates as they move to self-sufficient wages by engaging local businesses and civic leaders. The core idea here is to create an employee assistance program that supports low-wage workers as they transition to good-paying jobs.
  • Some Getting Ahead graduates will focus on starting a business. Owning your own business is a way out of poverty. Communities have helped Getting Ahead graduates establish an employee-owned cleaning business and a nonprofit taxi service.
  • Some Getting Ahead graduates will focus on bridging social capital. Having lots of bridging social capital is a way out of poverty. While going through Getting Ahead, investigators will be doing activities that help them identify and contact people in the community whom they want on their support team.
  • Some Getting Ahead graduates will focus on removing community and systemic barriers. Bridges steering committees and guiding coalitions must make it their work to knock down the barriers that people in poverty encounter. By listening to Getting Ahead graduates who are in transition out of poverty, they will learn what those barriers are. In one city, Getting Ahead graduates worked with the transportation department to extend bus routes and keep the buses open longer into the evening.
  • The best approach is for your community to develop a multi-pronged and collaborative approach.
Are financing issues the biggest obstacles to providing Getting Ahead?
  • The biggest obstacle is not money; it’s the will to do Getting Ahead. When people (administrators of organizations in particular) decide that they really want to do Getting Ahead, they find the money. This is made easier by going on the Getting Ahead website to read program descriptions, grant applications, outcome studies, and sample budgets to assist when writing grants. It is also easier to raise money when Getting Ahead is being done in several organizations in the community. Then fund-raising can be done collectively as part of a wider community initiative.
How do people become Getting Ahead facilitators?
  • Potential facilitators need to start by reading Facilitator Notes for Getting Ahead. In addition, some view the eight-session webinar presented by experienced facilitators and Getting Ahead graduates. The recommended preparation for conducting Getting Ahead is to attend an on-site or online training by author Philip DeVol. Click here to learn more.
What is the role of the co-facilitator?
  • Co-facilitators (who are usually Getting Ahead graduates) can help run the Getting Ahead group, model what it means to be an investigator, help with logistical matters, and provide feedback to the facilitator. There are many Getting Ahead facilitators who started as Getting Ahead investigators and worked their way to the role of facilitator by first serving as co-facilitators.
What should not be done?
  • We’ve been doing Getting Ahead since 2004, and we are now in hundreds of communities in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. We’ve learned a lot in that time about what works and what doesn’t. A model fidelity checklist can be found in the appendix of Facilitator Notes for Getting Ahead. There are also five tables about the unique features of Getting Ahead that help guide facilitators and sponsors.
  • Sometimes it’s better to describe what should not be done. Here are some important things to avoid:
    • Do not do some parts of Getting Ahead and skip others. It is carefully sequenced and depends on discussion and reinforcement.
    • Do not do the modules out of sequence.
    • Do not cut down the number the sessions.
    • Do not reduce stipends to poverty-wage levels.
    • Do not pay investigators more than the facilitator is paid or would be paid (if the facilitator is volunteering his/her time).
    • Do not use the Self-Assessment of Resources outside the context of Getting Ahead.
    • Do not split up the work of facilitating Getting Ahead. This work is based on relationships of mutual respect. If there are two facilitators, they both need to be there for every session.
    • Do not teach. Getting Ahead is not about pouring information into someone’s head; it’s about adults dealing critically and creatively with the reality of poverty in their lives and in the community and discovering how to participate in transforming their world.
    • Do not set up the tables and chairs like a classroom.
How can we learn from others who are doing Getting Ahead?
  • The Getting Ahead community of practice is developing a body of knowledge that will help all sites to work better. To become a member of our learning community, keep an eye on the Getting Ahead website.
  • Join teleconferences when they are offered, develop personal relationships with people at other sites, and contribute to the growing body of knowledge by contributing documents, stories, pictures, video clips, and ideas to the website. You can do that by contacting Philip DeVol at pdevol@ahaprocess.com.


Scheduling a Workshop FAQs

How can I schedule an aha! Process consultant to present a workshop at my organization or in my community?
  • Please call one of our professional development account representatives at (800) 424-9484. Choose menu option 4.
  • Complete this online request, and one of our account representatives will contact you within one business day.
Do your consultants do only full-day workshops?
  • No, we can adapt our trainings to meet your specific needs, including timeframes. Our standard workshop day is 8:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. with an hour and a half for lunch and two 15-minute breaks. We can also provide shorter sessions (e.g., keynote, breakout, 1–2 hour overview, half-day workshop, etc.).
Do you have any consultants in my area?
  • Please check out our consultant biographies, or call our professional development account representatives at (800) 424-9484 and choose menu option 4.
Are we required to purchase books for our workshop?
  • Most of our workshops do not require a book purchase, but some do require participants to have a specific book or workbook to receive the full benefit of the training. Some workshops do not require materials to be purchased but do have optional books and/or workbooks that are recommended to increase the understanding of workshop participants.
How many participants can we have in our workshop?
  • In most of our workshops, you can have as many participants as you can seat comfortably in the meeting room. We have a few trainings that have a maximum number of participants due to the hands-on nature of the training. Please check with your account representative about the specific workshop you are interested in.
Which workshop should I start with?
  • We recommend that organizations and communities start with either Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities or Strategic Consulting, depending upon audience. These workshops will include the foundational constructs upon which all of our workshops are based. Bridges Out of Poverty is a prerequisite for some of our other trainings.
Are there prerequisites for the workshops?
  • A few of our workshops have prerequisites. Please check out the workshop page for the workshop you are interested in to determine if there is a prerequisite.


Orders FAQs

I am tax exempt, but the online store is charging me tax.
  • Please fax your tax-exemption form to (281) 426-8705, or email to store@ahaprocess.com, and your tax will be refunded the next business day. If you prefer to place the order on the phone, please call our office at (800) 424-9484 and choose menu option 3.
I need to return a book I ordered from you. What do I need to do?
  • Please call our office at (800) 424-9484 and choose menu option 6.
What is your return policy?