Sarah Kimbrough, a graduate of Getting Ahead, is a voice of those in poverty in our community. Here she brings the concerns of those experiencing poverty to community leaders during a symposium sponsored by Thrive! Union.


Several years ago, Harvard University did a study in which Charlotte was at the very bottom of a list of the top 50 cities in our country. Economic Mobility has become a big topic around here because of our last place status. More recent studies funded by the John M. Belk Endowment show that of those born below the poverty line in the Charlotte commuting zone, 69% will not rise above what is considered to be stability in their lifetime.*

Statistics is one thing, but for over 14 years we have been delivering groceries, helping with crisis needs, providing crisis referrals and more importantly being friends with folks that find themselves caught in this trend. One of the problems with solutions that we come up with as a society is that there is no input from those who live in the struggle day to day. Our friends are often counted out by society as lazy, unmotivated, ignorant, deficient or worse. What we have come to realize is that these friends are actually amazing problem solvers and we need them to take their place at the “community table” with those from middle class and wealth if we are going to change things.

Common Heart’s newest program, Advocates for Change, seeks to bring everyone to the table to create resources for individuals and our community. At its core is the belief that together, Joe from Wealth, Joe from Middle Class and Joe from Poverty can work together to create a sustainable community where all can do well.




Getting Ahead prepares our friends from poverty to become Leaders for Change. They are the subject matter expert when it comes to poverty. They know what it’s about. Their 40 hours of investigations during Getting Ahead help them to have a better understanding of poverty’s effects on their lives and in our community. When they finish their investigations in Getting Ahead they come out with a personal plan and energized to be part of solutions for the community.  

Additionally, we offer a two generation approach by offering teens the R Rules, a Getting Ahead for students in Middle School and High School. For more information about Getting Ahead and R Rules click here.


Bridges Out of Poverty workshops prepare our friends from middle class and wealth to see poverty and our community’s experience of it in a whole new light. It helps them understand what it takes, and how difficult it is, for someone to rise out of poverty. These folks are subject matter experts in what it takes to succeed or get ahead in this middle class run society. They are prepared to join with our Leaders for Change as friends, and Allies for Change. For more information about Bridges out of Poverty click here.

creating a team


Once both groups are prepared, individual Leaders are matched with 2 – 3 Allies to form an Advocate for Change Team. These teams meet monthly. Additionally, all teams get together on another day each month to work together for community and societal improvement. We have additional learning and growing experiences monthly for our Leaders and quarterly training and support meetings for Allies.

Individual AFC teams meet monthly. All Leaders and Allies meet together for a monthly AFC Community meeting. There are ongoing training for leaders and regular support gatherings for allies. Our AFC Coach and staff works directly with teams and the whole AFC community.