Publication Date

Spring 5-23-2017

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Rachel Slocum

Abstract

This paper explores the initial results of the Bridges Out of Poverty (“Bridges”) community framework as implemented by the organization Kennett Area Community Service in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. The aim of this research is to provide perspective on Bridges Out of Poverty’s contribution to the understanding of poverty in the United States and its potential as an antipoverty intervention. It does so first through an exploration of the historical and current discussion on poverty and anti-poverty interventions in the United States, followed by research on the Bridges model itself and its implementation in Kennett Square. This latter research includes content analysis of Bridges publications, interviews with Bridges leaders across the United States, additional interviews with those involved in the initial Bridges programming in Kennett Square, and finally survey data collected by Kennett Area Community Service in the beginning stages of program implementation. The research finds that by situating the individual-level effects of poverty in structural context, Bridges has the potential to change the conversation on poverty in the communities engaging with its framework. While Bridges’ stated goals reach into the level of large-scale structural impact, I find that the change inspired by Bridges is primarily happening on the community level, and with bigger impacts happening as they “trickle up” from local contexts. I argue, therefore, that Bridges has potential as a set of tools to bring a critical analysis of poverty to circles where it is often overlooked, and in doing so to change mindsets and practices that address poverty at the local level.

Disciplines

Civic and Community Engagement | Community-Based Learning | Community-Based Research | Critical and Cultural Studies | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Educational Sociology | Income Distribution | Inequality and Stratification | International and Intercultural Communication | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences | Other Sociology | Political Economy | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social Influence and Political Communication | Social Psychology and Interaction | Sociology of Culture