HILTON HEAD, S.C. (WSAV) — Hilton Head Island’s Deep Well Project is launching a unique family financial stability initiative.

The initiative is called “Circles” and centers around the idea of building intentional friendships across income lines. The nonprofit has reached dozens of communities across the country pairing low-income families with middle- and upper-income volunteers. The nonprofit says that the relationships that form help those struggling for stability to achieve financial independence.

Relationships across income lines, otherwise known as “circles” of support, meet every week for a minimum of 18 months as volunteers learn about the culture, challenges, and trauma of poverty. In return, low-income families have a chance to learn how to navigate the middle class.

According to the Deep Well Project, the program is backed up by results. About half of those who start the program end up staying with it and achieve on average a 71% increase in income at the 18-month mark. On average, Circle families achieve an average of a 121% increase in income after three years.

“The Circles program is a perfect complement for the stabilization programs that Deep Well has been offering for the last 50 years,” says Deep Well executive director Sandy Gillis.  “After we help a family with an immediate basic needs service, we have been looking for a program to then work with the family longer term to keep them on track – and we think Circles is the solution.  Because Circles needs a lot of volunteers, and Deep Well is a volunteer-driven nonprofit, the combination is a great fit.”

Circles USA, a national nonprofit based in Albuquerque, N.M., began developing the program 20 years ago but officially launched it under the Circles name in 2008. Since then, Circles has helped thousands of families in dozens of states.

The Deep Well Project is currently interviewing potential participants and volunteers for the Circles program.

There will be an informational Open House session for the general public held Tuesday, October 18, 6-7 p.m. at The Children’s Center, 8 Nature’s Way near Jarvis Creek Park on Hilton Head Island.

 For more information about Circles Hilton Head Island, please email Circles@deepwellproject.org, or visit www.deepwellproject.org/circles-hhi.