Community Aspirations Hub (CAH) is an initiative of the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab (SIELab) 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 offer the Aspire tool adapted from a global poverty methodology for individuals and families in North Carolina to utilize in charting their way in overcoming specific, self-identified barriers/challenges/obstacles.
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.
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.