Champions for Change: Ready to Change the Way We Think

“You’re going to have fun changing the way people think,” said Phil DeVol to an audience of 53 professionals representing organizations across the tri-county region.  Co-author of “Bridges out of Poverty” and author of “Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’-By World,” Phil visited the North Country during a recent comprehensive, three-day conference sponsored by Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO) and Community Action.  The training provided individuals identified as “Champions for Change” with the tools and strategies to facilitate Bridges out of Poverty workshops and encourage organizations and communities to utilize the Bridges concepts as part of a more consolidated, inclusive approach to addressing poverty.

Bridges out of Poverty is not a program but rather a common set of constructs for understanding and addressing poverty.   The work encourages us to broaden our definition of poverty to “the extent to which an individual does without resources,” and to think of financial as only one of a number of resources necessary for high quality of life.  Bridges inspires us to recognize individuals living in poverty as problem-solvers and to engage them in the important work of planning, implementing and evaluating programs.  Communities that embrace Bridges concepts take on a collective responsibility for ensuring that everyone has access to opportunities that build resources and that people from all sectors and all economic classes are working in tandem toward a sustainable community … where everyone can live well.

There are now more than 50 individuals in the tri-county area certified to facilitate Bridges out of Poverty workshops. These “Champions for Change” represent a variety of sectors, including human services, healthcare, K-12, post-secondary, mental/behavioral health, early childhood, independent living and faith-based organizations.  As certified trainers, they can offer Bridges workshops tailored to the audience, ranging from an hour to two full days in length. 

Local “Champions for Change” are organizing to form a learning collaborative to support one another as they strengthen their training skills, to encourage the sharing of best practices and to capture data relating to organizational changes inspired by Bridges concepts. 

The Bridges out of Poverty work is made available to individuals living in poverty via “Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’-By World,” a 16-week workshop series designed to inspire new thinking and the pursuit of a future story. Getting Ahead has a proven track record – nationally and locally – helping individuals to recognize their true potential, find their voice and get involved in the community.  Click here to learn more about Getting Ahead.

For more information about Bridges out of Poverty or Getting Ahead, please contact Dawn Cole at or 315.782.4900 x 250Click here for the list of “Champions for Change.”