Opportunity Community Cape

To many people living in poverty, the barriers to success are overwhelming and appear insurmountable.  The United Way of Southeast Missouri is working with international poverty expert, Dr. Donna Beegle, in implementation of an innovative approach, the Opportunity Community Model, to bringing success to these families and showing them the opportunity to get out of poverty is attainable.   

The focus of United Way’s Opportunity Community initiative is to bring the power of our collective knowledge and energy together to prevent and reduce poverty by inspiring, advocating, convening, incubating, connecting and influencing services, programs and resources, in Southeast Missouri.


  • Tell the story and educate the community
  • Amplify the voice of poverty
  • Serve as the educators, inspirers and a little bit of the conscience of the community
  • Demonstrate passion through our work


  • Focus on macro issues; broad and sweeping initiatives
  • Change the system; one bureaucracy at a time
  • Provide common knowledge and language about poverty
  • Impact policies that create poverty and encourage policies that prevent or reduce poverty


  • Bring people together to change systems
  • Serve as a combination of initiator and responder; initiate some actions that need to be led; involve others or respond to ideas or projects brought by other organizations and support getting it done
  • Accomplish work through people and a network of relationships including individuals, teams, and organizations.
  • Bring others to the table who share responsibility; inspire others to get involved; become champions and nurture and build other champions


  • Initiate, facilitate or support conversations about opportunities and needs
  • Pilot or support programs/ initiatives that may be eventually spun off

 Connecting and influencing services, programs and resources

  • Engage those in poverty in developing and supporting services, programs, and resources
  • Maintain responsibility for some specific programs
  • Provide prevention/ community building programs
  • Deliver “products” selectively
  • Continue Opportunity Conference concept
  • Continue Navigator Program
  • Provide service referrals 

United Way of Southeast Missouri sponsored its first Opportunity Community Conference on October 14th, 2013, led by Dr. Donna Beegle, where low-income individuals (Neighbors) were connected with a trained volunteer Navigator who will help guide them toward resources that will help them get out of poverty.  

To be part of this life-changing process or for more information about the Opportunity Community Framework contact Melissa Stickel at United Way of Southeast Missouri, 573-334-9634, or email Melissa.stickel@unitedwayofsemo.org. Get the latest updates by joining our Facebook Group page at www.facebook.com/groups/OpportunityCommunityCape.