Community Aspirations Hub

Exploring innovative community-driven solutions to multi-dimensional poverty

The Community Aspirations Hub (CAH) is an initiative of the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab (SIE Lab) within the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In collaboration with communities, organizations, subject matter experts, and people with lived experience of poverty, we are exploring innovative community-driven solutions to multi-dimensional poverty. 

We provide access to Aspire, a self-assessment survey and an intervention model, adapted from a global poverty methodology called Poverty Stoplight. Aspire is designed for individuals and families in North Carolina to use as a guide for overcoming self-identified barriers to holistic well-being.


Aspire is an innovative, app-based survey that empowers households to self-assess their well-being and create their own plan to improve indicators of multidimensional poverty. Households then work to achieve their goals for overcoming their challenges and aspects of poverty based on their own priorities, and with the support of a coach or mentor. Aspire echoes the belief that when families are the drivers of poverty elimination, they will have more success in reaching goals due to increased self-efficacy, improved economic and social mobility, and enhanced well-being.

Our Goals

The goals of the Community Aspirations Hub and Aspire are to:

  • Engage families in an empowering way that builds self-efficacy.
  • Increase well-being of families as measured by Aspire indicators.
  • Facilitate a statewide network of partner organizations who will collaborate with families and each other to address barriers to well-being, social and economic mobility, and health.
  • Gain a better understanding of the complexities of poverty in NC.
  • Identify areas for further research regarding well-being and effectively addressing poverty.

Aspire has been adapted and rebranded for use in North Carolina from a poverty reduction methodology developed by the Paraguay Foundation called Poverty Stoplight. The Poverty Stoplight has been implemented in over 20 countries, including the U.S. In 2017, Poverty Stoplight was recognized as one of the 11 projects advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The UNC School of Social Work is conducting a formative evaluation in preparation for scaling the initiative and conducting a rigorous research study in the next phase of the project.

Aspire challenges conventional thinking about poverty because it is centered on the voice of families and their subjective experiences rather than relying on economic metrics alone. Families, who are partners in the assessment and coaching process, have an opportunity to set their own priorities for growth and are empowered to reach goals on their own terms.

What Sets Us Apart

The methodology is unconventional in that it:

  • 1 Shifts from a depiction of individuals as victims of poverty to protagonists with critical agency that are deserving of opportunities to change their own situation based on their priorities.
  • 2 Collects data from individuals and families, improving our shared understanding of many social determinants of health and wellbeing through their voice and story.
  • 3 Studies poverty in its multidimensionality, not only focusing on money, but also power, agency, dignity, and the intersectionality of entangled challenges of poverty. It is adaptable to the diverse contexts in which poverty is found.
  • 4 Integrates lessons learned from past or present poverty alleviation programs and provides georeferenced data that can be used to improve existing programs or design new interventions to better serve target populations.
  • 5 Engages partners with diverse expertise and types of resources in a network geared toward collaboration in the creation of solutions to identified challenges.
  • 6 Incorporates a digital platform to collect data, share, results, and disseminate best practices for social change.

What is the Poverty Stoplight?

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