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. We collaborate with communities, organizations, subject matter experts, and people with lived experience to explore innovative community-driven pathways to wellbeing.

CAH members utilize Aspire, an application-based, interactive self-assessment tool and coaching model, to work with individuals and families to achieve their wellbeing goals and to overcome poverty.

Our Vision

Strong and thriving communities supported by a culture of collaboration to support the wellbeing of families.

Our Mission

Supporting communities in eradicating poverty in all forms, within all dimensions, via collaboration, diligence, and innovation.

Our Values

Collaboration: We must work together across systems to eliminate poverty and to create strong and thriving communities. Individuals and communities themselves must be the drivers of these efforts. People with lived experience of poverty and community-serving organizations are a vital part of the collaborative process.

Relationships: Relationships are vital to changing the systems that perpetuate poverty. We must work to build relationships with diverse groups of people and across sectors if we are to achieve real change.

Trust: Families and communities know what they need and what is best for them. We trust that they are the experts in their own lives. We strive to be a trustworthy partner to the communities we engage with and serve.

Human Potential: All people have the potential to grow, to improve their lives, and to thrive, when given the tools and support they need.

Equity: Recognizing the long and devastating history of racism and discrimination in the United States, we believe policies must directly address the structural factors that systematically disadvantage people of color, to ensure that all families can meet their basic needs.

Focus on Strengths: All people and communities have inherent strengths that should be recognized and nurtured. We believe growth is more likely when starting from a strengths-based rather than a problem-focused perspective.

Agency: A core component of wellbeing is the feeling that we have agency over our own lives. That means that we can choose what we want for ourselves, and we have the ability and freedom to act on those choices. Our work intends to approach people in ways that enhance their sense of agency.

Our Story

The Poverty Stoplight program was created based on Fundación Paraguaya’s experiences in the fields of microfinance, entrepreneurship, and poverty reduction with rural farmers in South America. From the beginning, it has been both theory- and evidence-driven.

Through an agreement with Fundación Paraguaya, the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab became a global Poverty Stoplight Hub in 2018. Adopting the name “Community Aspirations Hub,” we worked with partner organizations across the state to adapt the Poverty Stoplight to fit North Carolina’s context. We renamed the tool “Aspire” to remove the stigmatizing reference to poverty and shift the focus to holistic wellbeing, which encompasses economic mobility and is broader than a traditional income-based understanding of poverty.

In our startup phase, the CAH developed a training curriculum for our pilot partners to administer the tool and to provide effective coaching. We also coordinated and integrated feedback from partner agencies and Aspire users from the pilot projects.

Today, the CAH continues to provide training, technical assistance, and other supports to our pilot partners, while building new partnerships with family-serving organizations who want to implement Aspire in their work. We also facilitate a learning community for all Aspire coaches and provide ongoing training related to the Aspire methodology.