Brightpoint is a nonprofit organization, headquartered in Fort Wayne and serving individuals in northeast Indiana. Its mission is to help communities, families, and individuals remove the causes and conditions of poverty. In Steuben County, Brightpoint offers a variety of programs to work towards this mission.
Poverty in Steuben County
Steve Hoffman, CEO of Brightpoint, explained that poverty is a complex issue. There are visible symptoms and conditions that need to be addressed, as well as a wide variety of causes that put people in poverty. Poverty is both an individual family issue and a community issue. In Steuben County, about 3000 people live below the poverty line. In reality, Brightpoint views its population as those who earn up to 200% of the poverty line. When you consider the number of families struggling with daily expenses, basic needs, and who are in need of extra help, that number is closer to 10,000 families who need help from organizations like Brightpoint. Although there are federally funded programs for individuals living below the poverty line, Brightpoint steps in to help with rent, childcare, utility assistance, and other resources for people who are still in need.
Some of the people who often benefit from Brightpoint programs include the elderly, people with disabilities, or single parents. Partnerships are a crucial part of working to address poverty, combining resources and assisting with outreach to local populations in need. In Steuben County, Brightpoint works with REMC, childcare providers, utility providers, the Steuben County Literacy Coalition, the Steuben County Economic Development Corporation, and Bowen Center, along with other local agencies.
Poverty is like an iceberg, where the visible challenges above the surface are dwarfed by the complexity and scale of other underlying issues underwater. To stay motivated in their work toward this mission, Brightpoint focuses on a local approach with many opportunities for client feedback. Hoffman shared, “The public underestimates the barriers families have to overcome. When they achieve success and can be independent, that’s the coolest thing to me. I think that close involvement of people we serve is a critical factor.” Whether they are helping people sign up for health insurance or collaborating to build an entrepreneurial housing program, Brightpoint is working to support people experiencing poverty in its variety of forms in Steuben County and northeast Indiana.