Center for Community Futures
Phone: 510-339-3801
Fax: 510-339-3803
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Center for Community Futures
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Download and Read these Free documents from the Project to Develop a 21st Century Model to End Poverty.

Click on the link to download the file, or scroll down to view entire document.

“Maximizing Personal Potential for National Prosperity:  A blueprint for changing the way this country thinks about and addresses poverty” presents compelling reasons why it is time to rethink how we approach poverty, a comprehensive scan of the current environment in four key areas, a theoretical construct upon which new approaches can be built, and a host of other resources for beginning a national dialog for change.  The document encourages all sectors, political parties, and philosophical worldviews to first recognize that everyone has a role in and would benefit from new ways to address poverty and then invites action-oriented dialog for change.

The document was developed following a project that brought together community action, human services, community development, technology, and academic professionals, along with state and Federal officials, to create a theoretical construct for change.  For more information about the original project or this document, please contact Nancy Polend at (540) 937-4897 or at

1) SECTION 1 of Maximizing Personal Potential for National Prosperity: A blueprint for changing the way this country thinks about and addresses povertyIncludes only the summary, the first 40-ish pages of the original document.

2) ENTIRE Document: Maximizing Personal Potential for National Prosperity: A blueprint for changing the way this country thinks about and addresses povertyThis is a LARGE file, over 450 pages in Word.

3) Reference Table of Federal programs addressing poverty (Excel) (consolidation of three tables included in #2 above)


A blueprint for changing the way this country thinks about and addresses poverty.

May 2005


In our rapidly changing and complex world, national prosperity and security depend on the extent to which each individual has the opportunity to reach maximum personal potential and on the extent to which we, as a nation, leverage that potential. Therefore, we must make the most effective use of our most valuable resource—our citizens—to maintain our competitiveness in the increasingly complex world economy. The population living in poverty is our most underused resource, and, despite vast investments in anti-poverty efforts, the United States has no conceptual framework to serve as a foundation for its approach to addressing poverty or, more broadly, for maximizing our potential as a nation. To that end, this blueprint presents a case for change, an overarching theoretical construct, and initial strategies for establishing new ways of dealing with poverty in this country in the 21st century. It is a starting point for developing broad societal momentum to begin thinking about poverty and how we address it as a matter that is central to national prosperity and, ultimately, to national security.

  While we understand conceptually that our success as a nation depends on the success of every individual in it, we have not collectively engaged ourselves in the important work of addressing poverty, let alone ensuring that each of us has the opportunity to reach our full potential. This document is intended to begin the process of engagement so that we can create a new paradigm in which we view ourselves as a collection of interconnected and interdependent individuals, organizations, communities, institutions, and sectors of society that all have a stake in, and responsibility for, creating optimal conditions for all.

  Recognizing that no document can, in itself, create change, develop operational plans, or implement anything, this document is simply meant to serve as an initial plan for a journey into uncharted territory, laying the groundwork for the future direction of the country’s efforts to address poverty and beyond that, toward maximizing the potential of every individual. Creating the actual change and developing and implementing operational plans must, as always, be done by people. More specifically, this work must be done by people working together in every sector of society over a long period of time. With this in mind, the document is descriptive rather than operational and, because “the answer” does not reside in any one place, sector, political party, organization, program, funding stream, or service delivery strategy, it is not directed toward any one particular place. Rather, it is directed toward the collective whole of which we are all a part.

  The framing of the case for change and the theoretical construct provided in this blueprint has been vetted by many in the “business of anti-poverty” and the value of a person-centered philosophy, like the one envisioned here, has been widely affirmed. Poverty can be viewed through various lenses, as it is in the Case for Change chapter, to determine how our current approaches can be dramatically altered to create a better future, specifically—how we measure poverty, how we use the helping systems to create economic security, how we can build the capacity of communities and their leaders to shape a better future for themselves, and how we can use technology better to encourage these changes and improvements. While the basic premise presented in this document has been initially vetted, it has many evolutionary phases to undergo before it can be fully operational. For now, this document simply serves as a first step in engaging the nation in the dialogue necessary for that evolution to occur among those responsible—all of us.

    Chapter 1 provides the Case for Change, including an overarching view of why change is necessary, why it is necessary now, and some key perspectives on the current state using several topical lenses.  

    Chapter 2 provides the Theoretical Construct, including the mission, vision, imperatives, principles, and overarching conceptual framework upon which new ways of thinking and doing can be built.  

    Chapter 3 provides an overview and description of some specific initial strategies intended to begin the process of change toward an approach consistent with the construct.  

    Chapter 4 provides a Communications and Outreach Plan, including descriptions of the work that will be necessary to further define the change and to build and sustain momentum in creating a future built upon the construct.  

   Chapter 5 provides a summary of where this endeavor leaves us and what might lie ahead — a kind of “end of the beginning.”  

The Appendixes provide:

Appendix A: The Project to Create a 21st Century Model to Address Poverty provides a description of the project that began the work that led to this blueprint was developed, including how and why specific activities were undertaken.

Appendix B: Poverty Programs Summary and Matrix summarizes the vast landscape of federal poverty-related programs, including the program name, intent, and funding level.  

Appendix C: Issue Papers provide environmental scans of issues related to definitions of poverty, community-based approaches to poverty, family economic security, and technology.  

Appendix D: Descriptions of the four working sessions convened in late Summer 2004.  

Appendix E: Meeting Records for each of the four working sessions, within which a host of unvetted, unfiltered, untested strategies are provided that could be used as a shopping list of potential projects to be further explored.  

Appendix F: The Principal Contributors’ List includes the key people who lead, wrote, and/or supported the development of the vision and this document.  

Appendix G: Project Staff list


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