Working to make the Austin community a better places to live, learn, grow and succeed.

Since 1974

Circle Urban Ministries is working to make the Austin community a better place to live, learn, grow and succeed.  We take a four-pronged, asset-based approach to community development.

Circle Urban Ministries' 4-Pronged Approach to Community Development

Inspire Children

From birth, every child’s capacity to learn is shaped by nutrition, sensory and cognitive stimulation, stable, loving relationships, and early exposure to language and books (Department of Children, Youth and their Families, 2007). Through biblical and researched based programs Circle Urban Ministries works to solve this issue.

Engage Partners

Circle establishes nurturing strategic relationships with like-minded organizations to form a holistic ministry approach to neighborhood transformation.    In the Austin neighborhood, more than 8 different organizations are united on Circle’s historic 5-building campus to form Austin’s neighborhood transformation partners.

Empower Communities

Often times, low-income communities are devoid of the much needed resources for their residence to survive.  For more than 40 years Circle has identified the assets already present within the Austin community and created strategic partnerships to help supplement the missing resources.

Equip Families

Ongoing research shows that students with involved parents or other caregivers earn higher grades, have better social skills, and show improved behavior.  Circle Urban Ministries holds regular events giving parents and caregivers ideas for home-friendly, literacy-based activities and provides materials that can be used to reinforce a healthy home environment.

Asset-Based Community Development

For more than 30 years Circle Urban Ministries has used an asset-based community development approach (ABCD) to neighborhood transformation.  ABCD is built on four foundations (Kretzmann, 2010; Kretzmann & McKnight, 1993; Mathie & Cunningham, 2003):

  1. It focuses on community assets and strengths rather than problems and needs
  2. It identifies and mobilizes individual and community assets, skills and passions
  3. It is community driven – ‘building communities from the inside out’ (Kretzmann & McKnight, 1993)
  4. It is relationship driven.

Our strategic decisions are filtered through our strong belief in this approach.  See our partners below…

Our Partners

6 different organizations are united on the 5-building campus to form a wholistic, strategic partnership to meet the needs of God’s people in the Austin Community. These organizations are:

Circle Family Healthcare Network

From a Christian foundation, CFHCN works to improve the physical, behavioral, and spiritual health status in the Austin community by providing an integrated array of health, educational services and community development initiatives that enhance the quality of life.

Rock of Our Salvation Church

Rock of Our Salvation Church is led by its Senior Pastor Robert Stevenson.  Pastor Rob previously served as Youth Pastor of Rock Church and former Director of After School Programs for Circle Urban Ministries.   Rock Church brings a consistent spiritual component to the Austin Community.

Catalyst Circle Rock Charter School

Catalyst is a vibrant school community serving more than 520 Kindergarten-8th Grade scholars!  Catalyst Circle Rock is guided by a mission in which a child is holistically educated by a school community committed to “Teaching minds and touching hearts.”

Austin-Circle Legal Center

The Austin Circle Legal Center is a premier provider of community-based quality legal services to the underserved and disadvantaged on the West side of Chicago.

InterVarsity-Chicago Urban Project

For 30 years, the Chicago Urban Program has been connecting college students with communities in Chicago to experience and learn about God’s heart for social reconciliation and justice.

Meet our amazing team

James Borishade

Executive Director

James has extensive knowledge in experiential education and child development.  He has worked with schools to implement experiential education in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Kentucky, Kansas, Ohio, Missouri and Michigan.  His work with children has been featured in the text book, “Careers in Child Development” (Pearson 2008).  Learn more about James

Walter Mendenhall IV

Director of Teen Ministries

Walter went from being diagnosed with a learning disorder at age 5, to graduating with a 3.2 GPA and becoming a professional athlete of the National Football League (NFL).  Walter now serves as the Director of Youth Ministries for Circle where he imparts knowledge and wisdom to the teens in the Austin neighborhood.  Learn More About Walter

Kim Molenda

Director or Youth Ministries

Kim comes to Circle Urban Ministries from the Boys and Girls Club at Brunson School where she supervised grant-funded programs.  Hired, trained and evaluated employees.  As the Director of Youth Ministries she monitors operational performance to ensure alignment with national mission and goals.