Building Bridges is not a program. It focuses on getting to know one another as we work together to create a sustainable community in which all people get to write their future stories. The key is…

“We Are All In This Together”


What is Building Bridges?

This is a community uniting to impact the futures of our neighbors and friends who are caught trying to survive in the daily struggles of poverty. This Southeast Iowa initiative uses the constructs of “Bridges Out Of Poverty, which breaks poverty down into a simple definition.

  • Poverty is the degree to which people do without the 11 key resources they need to live sustainable lives.
  • Bridges helps a community address, create and make those 11 key resources available to all people in all ways.

    Bridges Core Constructs

      1.    Use the lens of economic class to understand and take responsibility for your own societal experience, while being open to the experience of others.
      2.    At the intersection of poverty with other social disparities (racial, gender physical ability, etc.), address inequalities in access to resources.
      3.    Define poverty as the extent to which a person, institution or community does without resources
      4.    Build relationships of mutual respect.
      5.    Base plans on the premise that people in all classes, races, sectors, and political persuasions are problem solvers and need to be at the decision-making table.
      6.    Base plans on accurate mental models of poverty, middle class and wealth.
      7.    At the Individual, Institutional, Community/Policy levels: stabilize the environment, remove barriers to transition, and build resources.
      8.    Address all causes of poverty (4 Areas of Research).
      9.    Build long term support for Individual, Institutional, and Community/Policy transition.
      10.  Build economically sustainable communities in which everyone can live well.

    11 Resources All People Need to “Get Ahead”

      •  Financial
      •  Emotional
      •  Mental
      •  Spiritual
      •  Physical
      •  Support Systems
      •  Knowledge of Hidden Rules
      •  Relationships/Role Models
      •  Formal Register of language
      •  Motivation and Persistence
      •  Integrity and Trust

Who is involved?
Currently, many businesses, organizations, churches and schools are involved in this process, including Southeastern Community College. Building Bridges is represented in almost every place in our area and it has one goal. We are committed to working together as one community “army” that impacts the lives of all people in our area.


The Key is Getting Involved!
Getting involved is easy. You can call Mona Ash at (319) 572-6533 or you can email Vern Reed at They will tell you when our next meetings are and how to join our email conversations.

What does Building Bridges look like?
Building Bridges takes many forms and has many opportunities to make a difference.

  • “Getting Ahead in a Just Getting By World” - A 16 week class for adults caught in the struggles of poverty. Our first class starts on April 26 and meets at the Loft once a week.
  • "Staying Ahead Team" - People, who already are living sustainable lives, partner with graduates of the "Getting Ahead" program. Each team helps each graduate build those 11 resources we all need to live sustainable lives.
  • Community Training - Ongoing training for all who want to help fight the problem of poverty in our community. Bridges trainings are offered continually as an introduction to the Bridges Constructs. After April, organization will be able to take advantages of Bridges trainings coming into their organizations and training all employees, leaders, etc.
  • Funding and raising funds - We continue to seek funding for the Bridges Initiative through grants and other organizations.
  • Making area resources available to all - We have incredible resources for those in need in Southeast Iowa. The key is removing hurdles that keep those needing the resources from getting them. We are working on getting those resources under one umbrella making them easily accessible to all.


Getting Ahead in a Just-Getting-By-World

What Is It?
An opportunity to explore the world through the lens of economic class and develop your own future story.

What Do I do?
Work in groups to investigate your life and develop a plan for your future.

What Will I Learn?

  • “Hidden rules of class”
  • Resources everyone needs
  • How to move toward a sustainable future
  • Who Should Attend?
    Any person who finds themselves caught in the struggles of poverty.

    When Is It?

  • 16 weekly sessions
  • Tuesdays 6-8:15 p.m.
  • Dinner is at 5:30 p.m.
  • Recent Getting Ahead Graduates were asked, “Would you recommend Getting Ahead to others, and if so –why?”

    “Yes. Because it helped me a lot and opened doors for me that I didn't know were there for me."

    ”This class was a great experience for me and everything I learned I will carry with me always.”

    “I’ve learned that the world is for everyone!”

    Bridges Out of Poverty a program by Young House Family Services was recognized by the Greater Burlington Partnership with the 2016 Community Impact Award.


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