Getting Ahead

If you didn't grow up in poverty, you may be unaware of the "hidden rules" that govern many aspects of life for the poor. People in poverty are often in survival mode: support systems taken for granted in the middle class and wealthy are largely nonexistent. 

Bridges Out of Poverty is a uniquely powerful tool based in part of Dr. Ruby K. Payne's myth-shattering A Framework for Understanding Poverty. Bridges is not a program. It is a research-based framework of concepts, tools, and resources that equip people to reconsider how they approach their clients, their constituents, their neighbors, and their community.

To comprehensively address the issue of poverty, we must look at it through three lenses: Individual, Institutional, and Community. This Triple Lens approach provides a comprehensive perspective on how we as individuals, organizations, and communities can eliminate poverty.

United Way of Henry County & Martinsville serves as the hub of the Bridges Initiative in MHC helping to convene and coordinate the Bridges Implementation Team, local Bridges trainings, and the Bridges Out of Poverty Program, "Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin-By World."

Getting Ahead in a "Just-Gettin'-By" World

Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World is a 17 session workshop series providing people motivated for change the tools and support necessary to ‘Get Ahead’ in today’s world.

Working in a group learning environment, participants, known as "investigators", will learn that money is only 1 of 11 resources used to define success including:

  • Financial
  • Emotional
  • Language
  • Mental/Cognitive
  • Social Capital (Connections)
  • Physical
  • Spiritual
  • Motivation/Persistence
  • Integrity/Trust
  • Relationships/Role Models
  • Knowledge of the 'Hidden' Rules

Investigators learn how these resources affect their lives, the lives of their family, and the community we live in. By examining the resources they have versus the resources they need, GA investigators will be able to create a personal plan, based on goals, to build a future story they choose. 

For information regarding Bridges Out of Poverty or Getting Ahead, contact Brandy Lawless at 276-403-5868 or

Meet James...

James, standing in front of UWHCM office in Martinsville, VA

When you first meet James, his personality is captivating and it's easy to see he is intelligent. He always has a twinkle in his eye and a joke up his sleeve. He has also lived a life of instability, and in his own words, "total turmoil." It was in that turmoil that James was introduced to Bridges Out of Poverty, a philosophy that defines poverty as the extent to which an individual does without resources.

"The United Way and the Getting Ahead Class has given me a new way to look at my community and life. It gave me the opportunity to see both ends of the economic scale and show me ways and means to get from one end to the other. It has been a great experience."
- James E. Martin

The program, Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin'-By World, equips participants to investigate and develop their resources in 11 key areas. Throughout his 'Getting Ahead' class experience James faced many obstacles. However, through abstract thinking, resource connection, and perseverance he was able to overcome those barriers one by one. James graduated from the United Way of Henry County & Martinsville's 'Getting Ahead' class in October 2019. James continues building his resources as his life shifts toward a future story with more stability and peace.

Let Us Help You Get Ahead!

Classes are regularly scheduled based on interest level. If you have any questions regarding the next class's start date, or any other Getting Ahead questions, please contact Brandy Lawless at

To have us reach out to you when planning the next class session, please complete the form below:

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