Getting Ahead

The Getting Ahead program is a 14 week program where individuals explore the theory of change while investigating their lives and their community. Participants develop a plan to build a path out of poverty, after exploring the mental models of economic class. Individuals must commit to attending the 2-hour classes and are provided with a $25 gift certificate for each class as a way to recognize participants for their engagement and work in their individual and community investigation. For each class transportation, dinner, and child care are provided. The class is free.

A national study has validated the effectiveness of the Getting Ahead program for participants from poverty. The program resulted in positive psychosocial changes, empowering individuals to overcome obstacles that hinder their escape from poverty.

  • Started October 2022
  • 52 graduates
  • 75% graduation rate
"Getting Ahead was a huge help to our family. We felt welcomed and heard throughout the entire experience as well as supported by everyone. The program was very simple yet fun and successful for us. We were able to become debt free and financially stable as a family of five who had struggled for years prior. We appreciate everyone who put their time and energy into all of us every week! " ~ The Haldemans
"Getting Ahead and Staying ahead has helped me reach my goals in life by building social capital. My goal in life is to help as many as I can no matter how far away they are and to end world hunger. I learned many more resources that will help me as well as the people I meet." ~ Sara O.

Jarod's Story

Friends of Donegal met Jarod in our first Getting Ahead class. Jarod faced many setbacks in his young life. He was isolated from family and friends and was unable to engage in school or the community.

At the start of the Getting Ahead class Jarod was incredibly quiet and kept to himself. One of his goals that surfaced through conversations in the class was to start a community garden. As an empowerment team, Friends of Donegal wondered: how could we support him in making this goal a reality?

By leveraging Jarod's newfound source of social capital in Friends of Donegal, in the spring of 2022, Jarod developed Donegal Community Gardens with his first garden at Florin Church of the Brethren. Jarod worked with a local grower and five individuals agreed to have personal plots in the garden. Jarod helped them grow and harvest their own vegetables.

By summer of 2023, another garden was added to Jarod's enterprise at Mount Joy Mennonite Church. This site produces bulk vegetables such as potatoes and green beans for the Donegal Power Packs program. Jarod, who was so shy and reserved at that first Getting Ahead class, was now participating in community speaking engagements. In 2023, he hosted a garden open house to introduce the community to the garden.

Jarod was not only making strides in the community, but personally as well. He passed his driver's test and began his first job with Dave's Collectibles. Gone are the days of isolation. Now days are filled with being an engaged member of the community.

Jarod sees 2024 as a big year. Donegal Presbyterian Church donated 3.6 acres to grow vegetables. He continues to create new goals: to live independently and to purchase a vehicle to transport vegetables from the garden. To stay on track, he continues to attend the monthly Staying Ahead classes.

Jarod is flourishing! He is testament of how a little community can go a long way. Friends of Donegal is so proud of all Jarod has accomplished, and we cannot wait to see what the years ahead bring.

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