Horizons Anti-Poverty Program


Horizons was a multi-year community leadership initiative, designed and launched by the Northwest Area Foundation (NWAF). Everyday Democracy and the Pew Partnership for Civic Change partnered with NWAF in this effort, which was delivered by a number of nonprofits, Tribal Colleges and State University Extension Services. Horizons was designed to build community leadership and capacity to address poverty in small, rural, and reservation communities.  It was predicated on the theory that communities already possess many of the assets and skills to arrest social and economic decline, and can, with leadership training, resources and support, craft and implement a shared community vision to address poverty in meaningful ways.

Read more about the background of the program



Horizons was designed to contribute to NWAF's mission of poverty reduction by identifying, preparing and equipping new leaders and helping them to “take community action on poverty.”  Clearly, the evidence gathered from 283 communities over five years substantiates that leadership changes have been sometimes profound, and they have been sustained.  And, clearly, communities are taking action to address poverty.  Indeed, over half of the alumni communities are still working on their poverty plan.  Most communities acknowledged that by the conclusion of the formal 18-month program, they are just getting started on addressing poverty.

Read more about the outcomes of the program


Stories from the initiative

The path to a unified community
People marching in parade holding banner that reads "Wagner Horizons building community one relationship at a time." Changes initiated to ease racial tensions, dated back through many generations, between whites and American Indians.



Horizons Program in Washington state brings hope, change to rural towns
Horizons, an anti-poverty program that includes dialogues, has provided the structure and tools to make hope a reality for 40 communities in Washington state. “The entire Horizons Program has created an attitude of ownership in the ability to make change and create opportunities.”


Horizons program credited for instilling confidence and leadership skills
Woman walking in front of some stores in a rural townInspired by her leadership training in the Horizons anti-poverty program in Stanford, Mont., Sandee Hungate is pursuing a new business venture: opening a local clothing store.



Building relationships, building a town
Two women standing at a table with a variety of clothes on it.When the population declined and the poverty rates increased, community works to transform their home into a thriving area.



Creating change for the good of all community members
Portrait of Vince Two Eagles in traditional clothingVince Two Eagles tells his story of how he got involved in the Wagner (S.D.) Horizons Racism Study Circles and shares his insights on how to direct change to benefit everyone in a community.



Community's projects address many dimensions of poverty
Following the motto "Grow, change or die," residents of Tyndall, S.D., who took part in study circles as part of the Horizons initiative are now working on several projects to address poverty and improve their community.


Bold ideas and action pave opportunity highway
Woman speaking.After moving back to her once thriving community, Muriel Krusemark was devastated by the lack of community involvement. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Muriel has helped turn her town's obstacles into opportunities.


Connecticut Civic Ambassadors are everyday people who care about and engage others in their communities by creating opportunities for civic participation that strengthens our state’s "civic health."

Dialogue to Change

Our ultimate goal is to create positive community change that includes everyone, and our tools, advice, and resources foster that kind of change. Whether you’re grappling with a divisive community issue, or simply want to include residents’ voices in city government, Everyday Democracy's Dialogue to Change process, using a racial equity lens, can help.