Circles Ashland, Inc.
P.O. Box 247
Ashland VA 23005-0247
Mission Statement Inform, inspire and equip individuals, families and community to resolve poverty and thrive 
CEO/Executive Director Susan Shearouse
Board Chair Mrs. Susan Shearouse
Board Chair Company Affiliation Frameworks for Agreement
Contact Information
Address P.O. Box 247
Ashland, VA 230050247
Telephone 804 496-1212
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2016
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expense Bar Graph - All Years
Expense Breakdown Bar Chart - All Years
Projected Revenue $160,000.00
Projected Expenses $160,000.00
Mission Inform, inspire and equip individuals, families and community to resolve poverty and thrive 
  1. Formed and launched Circles Ashland, Inc and received IRS 501(c)(3) certification
  2. Established 16 member Board of Directors and employed Executive Director
  3. Established 7 Resource Teams (totaling 50 volunteers)
  4. Trained and graduated 13 children and 6 adults (Circle Leaders) in basic life skills
  5. 6 Circle Leaders developed their life plans which include securing sustainable housing, jobs skills assessment and development, increasing income to 200% Federal Poverty Guidelines, and other quality of life improvements
  6. Trained 12 Circle Allies (coaches for Circle Leaders) in basic coaching skills and strategies for working with people in poverty
  7. Matched 6 Circle Leaders with 12 Circle Allies and commenced the 18 to 24+ month coaching process toward fulfilling Circle Leader life plans
  1. Employ full-time 1.0 FTE Program Director
  2. Employ (or volunteer) part-time 0.5 FTE volunteer coordinator
  3. Increase Circle Leaders (program participants to a total of 30 adults plus~ 60 children)  at 2 Circles sites
  4. Increase volunteers (also see Needs Statement)
  1. Capacity building - Fund a 1.0 FTE Program Director and 0.5 FTE Volunteer Coordinator
  2. Volunteers - Recruit Circle Allies (24 coaches), children's curriculum leaders (~6 teachers & ~3 child care workers), Meal Preparers and set up helpers (~4 to 6 workers X 52 Thursdays), Resource Team participants (~2 each team X 5 Resource Teams = 10 persons)
  3. Meals - Secure donated meals for 52 Thursday nights, to serve 60 to 120 persons
  4. Facility space for 2nd site - Secure ~3000 sf + 500 sf separate meeting space + commercial kitchen for meal preparation & clean up)

Circles Ashland, the first Virginia chapter of a national initiative, applies a unique relationship-based strategy that moves from a focus on managing effects of poverty to collective ownership of its solution in and around Ashland.

Circles Ashland works to: (1) empower highly motivated low-income participants (below 200% FPG) to permanently move out of poverty and (2) increase the “poverty IQ” of community leaders and residents in order to motivate strategic collective action to resolve systemic barriers to self-sufficiency and (3) to create bridging and linking capital between low income and middle/upper income people and employment.

Deeply moved by and in response to an Ashland Town ordinance designed and passed in 2015 that severely limits long term occupancy of hotel rooms by homeless and nearly homeless children and families (reported to be over 200 rooms), a group of concerned citizens from a Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church banded together to form Circles Ashland, a faith friendly but not faith required organization.

Recognizing that safety net approaches have been unsuccessful in resolving poverty, and are unsustainable, the group decided to engage long-term approaches that resolve underlying barriers (namely economic) to self-sufficiency.
We have concluded, much as has Richmond with the initiation of its Wealth Building Initiative, that we cannot resolve poverty with the same unsustainable approaches. Our approach offers a hand up and not a hand out, and we collaborate with area organizations who do provide what we do not – emergency assistance.
CEO Statement
In one year, Circles Ashland has informed over 600 Ashland residents about poverty, inspired over 180 to volunteer and is equipping about 50 Circle Leader family members (children and adults) to resolve poverty and thrive.
Circles Ashland is a proven approach to building and linking social and economic capital and overall quality of life. Circles begins with the passion, commitment and abilities (strengths) of Circle Leaders (those living at 200% or below of Federal Poverty Guidelines) and their children; teaching them soft-skills (life skills) and coaching them (2 coaches per Circle Leader) for 24+ months as they work to fulfill their life plans.
During the 24+ months follow up coaching and training, our seven Resource Teams (namely Big View and Jobs and Education teams) work with the Circle Leaders and their coaches (Circle Allies) to inform, inspire and equip the whole group so that together we thrive and improve the quality of life for all. 
Finally, our Resource Teams are consistently linking with local employers, workforce development, and diverse organizations that systemically improve quality of life and resolve poverty - namely in three areas - jobs, affordable housing and transportation. 
Areas of Service
Areas Served
Our focus is the Town of Ashland, VA:
population ~7500
poverty - ~ 15%
AMI ~ $41,500 (note Hanover County AMI ~ $77,500)
Board Chair
Board Chair Mrs. Susan Shearouse
Company Affiliation Frameworks for Agreement
Term Jan 2017 to Dec 2018
Board of Directors
Board Members
Mrs. Randi Buerlein L.C.S.W.Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work
Mr. N David Cooper MSW, MDiv, CPMCircles Ashland
Mr. James Dinger M.A.Select KSA, LLC
Honorable Larry E Gilman Hanover County Courts
Rev. Kendra Grimes Randolph Macon College
Mr. Bill Hamner Esq.Lane & Hamner, P.A.
Mrs. Elissa Hamon Guidepost Solutions, LLC
Ms. LaChelle Lewis Randolph Macon College
Carolina Lugo None
Mr. Joe Maslanka Admiral Security Services
Mrs. Susan Shearouse Frameworks for Agreement
Rev. Sandra Stanley Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church
Ms. Jackie Strickland Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church
Mr. Nelson Vaughan CitiBank
Ms. Melissa Vaughan AIA CDT LEED AP BD+CMelissa Vaughan Architects
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 6
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 94
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 44
Female 56
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 1
Board Meeting Attendance % 98
Written Board Selection Criteria? Under Development
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 12
Standing Committees
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
As a start-up nonprofit, just incorporated in February 2016 and receiving IRS 501(c)(3) status in May 2016, we are diligently pursuing development and implementation of policies and procedures while we are successfully operating programs and organizational capacity-building.
Executive Director
Executive Director Susan Shearouse
Full Time Staff 1
Part Time Staff 0
Volunteers 71
Contractors 1
Retention Rate 100
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Date Strategic Plan Adopted July 2016
Management Succession Plan? No
Organization Policy and Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistleblower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
Letters of Intent to partner have been established and MOA's are in progress with the following organizations:
Habitat for Humanity Hanover, Quin Rivers CAA, Hanover County Department of Social Services, Hanover Mental Health Association, Ashland Open Door
HandsOn Greater Richmond2016

Circle Leaders and their children - cohorts of ~12 adults and ~24 children - progress through 14 weeks of life skills (soft skills) training, including :

  • quality of life assessment
  • reviewing US poverty
  • surviving versus thriving
  • budgeting and money management
  • healthy relationships and effective communication
  • fitness
  • cultural diversity
  • social capital
  • vocational assessment and career planning
  • results based management (SMART planning)
  • systemic barriers and strategies for resolution
Circle Leaders create and work to achieve their own economic stability plans. (Hence, they are “Circle Leaders.”). Simultaneously, their school-age children receive interactive and age-appropriate life skills training.  

Accompanying Circle Leaders and their children for 24 months are 2 Circle Allies per Leader. Allies are coaches who help Leaders fulfill Leader's life plans by providing social support, encouraging skills development, and increasing access (bridging capital) to social, economic and community resources.

Budget $160,000.00
CEO/ED/Board Comments
In addition to Circle Leader & children training, and training of Circle Allies, Circles volunteer Resource Teams work systemically (external organizations) to support Circle Leaders and their life plans:
  • Jobs and Education Team -  Research and establish business and educational contacts and resources to develop Living Wage jobs with Circle Leaders
  • Big View Team - Research and educate Circle participants, community members, civic leaders and organizations about Cliff Effects. Plan with other resource teams, Circle Leaders, Allies and community at large, strategies to ameliorate Cliff Effects and collaborate systemically for overall success.
  • Community Team - Identify, plan, organize and produce meeting spaces and furnishings; secure meals; organize and produces child training and care, and assist Program Director, Circles Coach and Meeting Facilitators with facilitating Circles meetings
  • Recruitment Team - Identify, screen, recruit and orient Circle Leaders, Circles Allies and other volunteers
  • Services Team - Establish and maintain bridge resources (referral sources) to assist Circle Leaders toward self-sufficiency as they work across Cliff Effects
  • Communications Team - Develop and apply communication plans and strategies across media spectrum (print, broadcast, and social media) to publicize the mission, goals and accomplishments of Circles Ashland. 
  • Fund Development Team - Develop and fulfill a funding plan, in collaboration with the Circles Board of Directors and the Executive Director (CEO), to achieve organizational and program goals and objectives.
In 2016, these seven resource teams are composed of over 50 volunteers
Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $160,000.00
Projected Expenses $160,000.00
Spending Policy Income Only
Form 990s
Form 9902016
Audit Documents
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
Solicitations Permit Application Confirmation 9/2016View
Organization Comments
 Circles Ashland is a new nonprofit, started in 2016. Success is being demonstrated through programming and organizational growth.  
The Circles program has been adopted for use by local leadership of the Maggie Walker Wealth Building (anti-poverty approach) in Richmond.
The Circles approach has proven successful among over 80 sites nationally. It is supported by United Way affiliates across America.
Circles Ashland is further proving the successful model and has engaged well over 600 Ashland residents in its inform and inspire events in 2016.
With a strong and committed Board of Directors, CEO, volunteers and a first group fo Circle Leaders (and their children), Circles Ashland is poised to significantly impact and resolve poverty in Ashland so that all may thrive.