In August 2011, the Maroon Volunteer Center partnered with Starkville Bridges out of Poverty (SBOP) to host a community-wide training event designed for middle-class participants to understand the truths about poverty. Based on the work of Phil Devol, Ruby Paine and Terie Dreussi, the training provides insight on bridging divides that happen along socio-economic lines and presents tools and a common language to aid participants in working together as a community to reduce, prevent and eradicate poverty. A total of 120 individuals from Oktibbeha County participated in the one-day training event.
With the assistance of members of the SBOP steering committee, the Maroon Volunteer Center designed a children’s mentor program called Building Bridges 4 Kids (BB4K). This program trained 17 MSU college students to act as volunteer mentors to 22 children between the ages of 3 and 15. These children are from families of participants of the Getting Ahead class, the second phase of Bridges out Of Poverty. In Getting Ahead the Investigators (participants) work in groups to examine the impact of poverty on themselves and their communities and to explore the world through the lens of economic class.