Workshops for Allies, Volunteers and Partners

Serving Economically Challenged Families

Cultures have norms, and we all respond based on the hidden rules of our upbringing. This training provides an understanding of the hidden rules for individuals in poverty, middle class, and wealth, with the goal of providing avenues of success for all. Participants will also review poverty research, examine a theory of change, and analyze poverty through the prism of the hidden rules of class, resources, family structure, and language. Participants will increase awareness of how economic class impacts our life experience, resources, and stability. Volunteers, professionals, and anyone who interacts with those living in poverty or want to advocate for those in poverty will benefit from this training.

This workshop is based on the book Bridges Out Of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities written by Ruby K. Payne, Philip DeVol, and Terie Dreussi Smith. Throughout the workshop, participants will gain new insights to develop strategies and ways to improve individual, institutional, and community based outcomes. This training assists employers, community organizations, social service agencies, and individuals to better understand the environment of poverty, and its impact on individuals living in and raised in poverty.

Bridges Out of Poverty is the framework for Common Heart’s comprehensive economic empowerment and development programs for low-income individuals.  These programs grew out of two concerns: our relationships with families living with food insecurity in generational poverty, and data coming out of multiple sources. These sources show that the Charlotte region ranked fifty out of the fifty largest cities in upward economic mobility for its residents living in poverty. (Harvard and UC Berkeley, 2014). A similar study showed that sixty-nine percent of the population born in the lowest economic quintile will remain economically unstable throughout their lives, not rising above the second quintile. (MDC, Belk Foundation, 2014). Bridges Out of Poverty uses the lens of economic class and provides concrete tools and strategies for communities locally, nationally, and internationally to alleviate poverty, promote upward mobility, and create a sustainable community where all can thrive.

Creating Dynamic, Empowered Relationships


In this workshop, you will tap into the power of TED* to transform drama filled relationships at home, work, and life. You will find out the secret of making shifts happen and recover from serial-rescuing that leads to burn out and chronic behaviors that destroy relationships. Together, we will discover the power of passion to move us toward what we really want for ourselves, our family, our friends, those we serve, and our community.

We discovered The Power of TED* and Three Vital Questions as we began experimenting with bringing together folks from different economic experiences as Advocates for Change.  One of the unforeseen elements of this mixing of economic class was drama. The main question was this: how do we form truly empowering relationships coming from such differing sets of hidden rules and driving forces?  In discovering TED*, The Empowerment Dynamic, we discovered new empowering relational roles that were the antidote for the drama filled roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer. These new roles of Creator, Coach, and Challenger helped us understand how to create relationships of mutual respect. When we discovered the Three Vital Questions framework for implementing these TED* roles, we uncovered a whole new way to create community, build relationships, and overcome challenges in service to outcomes. We learned how to support each other and work together to truly advocate for change in Union County.

Poverty Simulation

Poverty Simulation 

Fall 2024. Date TBD.

Poverty is a reality for many individuals and families. But unless you’ve experienced poverty, it’s difficult to truly understand. The Poverty Simulation bridges that gap from misconception to understanding. The Poverty Simulation is an interactive immersion experience. It sensitizes community participants to the realities of poverty. It is not a game. It is based on real people and their real lives. During the simulation you will role play a month in poverty and experience low income families’ lives.

After the simulation you will unpack your experience and brainstorm community change. You will be offered a tangible way to be involved in transforming the experience of families in poverty. Together we can be a voice to end poverty in the lives of your family, friends and community.

We utilize a nationally-recognized curriculum created by the Missouri Community Action Network. The Poverty Simulation was designed using real-life scenarios of people struggling with limited financial means. Our Advocates for Change volunteers who have real life experience of poverty form the core of our volunteers who facilitate this experience for participants.