Key stories and resources for addressing poverty and building prosperity

Person holding a growing plantStories about the growing rates of poverty in our country are in the news every day. Poverty stands as a primary barrier to individuals, families and communities doing well – and to full participation in the life of our communities and country.

In the past decade, Everyday Democracy has assisted and learned from state extension services and communities that are making meaningful progress on this important and seemingly intractable issue. We have seen that as people and institutions build relationships, value everyone, and take action together, they can find ways to create and sustain change.    

We began working on this issue in 2004, when we partnered with the Northwest Area Foundation and the Pew Center for Civic Change in the Horizons program. In that initiative, hundreds of rural and tribal communities with high poverty levels, throughout the Pacific Northwest, brought thousands of people into conversations and action to address poverty. As a result, they began to change conditions and opportunities in their communities, and many  are continuing this vital work. In 2006, we began to partner with the Southern Rural Development Center, the Kettering Foundation, and the Farm Foundation, in a spin-off of Horizons throughout the Deep South, in an initiative called "Turning the Tide on Poverty." Turning the Tide is continuing and expanding.  

Below you'll see stories of communities that have worked to build prosperity that will inspire you to make change in your own community, as well as resources that will help you take action.


Featured stories of change on poverty

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.


Solutions from the community, for the community
Community gardenErie, Pa., has been hit hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs, leaving 17% of individuals and 11% of families living in poverty. The dialogue-to-change process has made space for residents to voice their concerns and identify possible solutions to reduce poverty and violence, as well as attract new businesses.


Using dialogue to unleash potential
Man organizing donated food into boxesOver one-fifth of residents in Neshoba County, Miss., live in poverty, and they are working together to turn those numbers around.  Residents were inspired to take action after over 100 people organized to talk and work together to build a prosperous community.



Creating new opportunities to strengthen community
Woman walking in a parkTwo communities have organized residents to come together in dialogue and have found creative ways to encourage healthy lifestyles and bring jobs to their towns.


View more stories featuring communities addressing poverty and building prosperity.


Featured resources for building prosperity


Thriving Communities: Working Together to Move from Poverty to Prosperity for All
Thriving Communities Discussion GuideThis five-session discussion guide to help people talk about poverty in their community and take action to create a place where everyone can thrive.




Building Prosperity for All: Facilitator's Guide
Building Prosperity for All Discussion GuideBuilding Prosperity for All is for people in rural communities and small towns who are working to move from poverty to prosperity. This resource was designed to benefit communities that participated in dialogue-to-change programs using the guide, Thriving Communities: Working Together to Move From Poverty to Prosperity for All. However, no prior experience with Thriving Communities is necessary to get involved.


View more resources for addressing poverty and building prosperity.


March 17, 2014

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For more than 25 years, Everyday Democracy has worked with communities across the country to foster a healthy and vibrant democracy – one that is characterized by strong relationships across divides...

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.