Nonprofit Network Blog

The Triple Lens Approach: Addressing the dynamics of Poverty

Thursday, June 17, 2021 3:13 PM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)


Katena Cain, PhD
Nonprofit Management Consultant

When I think about Bridges Out of Poverty I am reminded of an insight from Shelly L. Francis's The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity:

“The inner work of leadership depends on the strongest muscle in the human body: the heart.”  

Bridges Out of Poverty allows leaders to connect head and heart to bring about viable institutional and community changes.

The Bridges Out of Poverty framework uses research on economic classes to provide concrete tools and strategies for a community to alleviate poverty. I truly believe that the solution to a community’s problem will be found in the community itself. After all, problem-solving is a core competency of most businesses and institutions. So those who serve people who live in deep poverty, or those whose employees live in deep poverty are natural stakeholders in this work. 

Bridges uses a "triple lens" approach to address the dynamics that cause poverty from an individual to a systemic level:

The Triple Lens of Bridges Out of Poverty:

1.    Individual 
2.    Institution/Organizational
3.    Community

This structure helps you to thoroughly assess and process poverty as you seek to build solutions. Often times, we view poverty and other social issues only through the individual lens — in this lens we focus on what the unique choices and circumstances of an individual are.

But if we do not change our perspective, we miss a majority of the picture.  We must also consider the lens of the institution and the community. Looking at poverty through an individual lens does not provide the depth of understanding that comes from viewing it through all three lenses. 

This framework offers powerful tools for change that can help to—

  • Reduce turnover costs
  • Improve employee performance and productivity
  • Create a positive workplace environment
  • Reduce barriers to employment
  • Build resources
  • Empower individuals
  • Move individuals from poverty to self-sufficiency
  • Create sustainable communities
  • and even help organizations and companies with retention rates

This is just a touch on some of the most important work that Nonprofit Network does. I hope you'll consider joining us on Tuesday July 20th at 9 AM for Bridges Out of Poverty

Thanks to our partner United Way of Jackson County this event is offered at no-cost to those who live in or serve Michigan and Michigan communities. A common outcome of this session is attendants bringing their learning back to their organization or community groups and advocating for a full or multi-day training. The full day in-depth learning allows time to sufficiently explore the "Triple Lens approach" and bring about the changes that need to happen now.

Nonprofit Network presents Bridges Out of Poverty in several ways to meet your specific needs.  We can provide as little as a brief preview of why Bridges Out of Poverty matters to multi-day workshops encompassing key points, solutions, strategies, action steps, and a plan for institutional change.  If you’re tired of doing the same thing and expecting different results, contact us. We can help.




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Jackson, MI 49202
Phone: (517) 796-4750


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