The theory describes a person’s advancement from poverty to economic self-sufficiency as a journey across a bridge supported by five critical pillars—family stability, well-being, education and training, financial management, and employment and career management. To successfully cross this bridge and reach economic self-sufficiency, the traveler must attain explicitly defined objectives in each of these five areas.

Bridge to Self-Sufficiency

At EMPath, staff works with program participants to assess their current stage in each area of the Bridge. The Bridge assessment helps identify strengths that will support a participant’s long-term goals and obstacles that might inhibit her success.

EMPath program participants work towards achieving the following goals in each area:

Family Stability

She is spending less than 30% of her after-tax income on housing. Her children’s needs are being met and do not prevent her from pursuing schooling or work.


She is fully engaged in her work and her family, and no health or behavioral issues prevent her from pursuing schooling or employment. She is part of a strong social network, serving as an advocate, organizer, and support to others.

Education and Training

She has achieved a level of post-secondary education and/or training that has prepared her for a job paying enough to support her family.

Financial Management

She has savings equal to three months’ worth of living expenses. She has good credit and is managing her debts in balance with her income.

Employment and Career Management

Her earnings from her job are greater than the real costs of basic living expenses for her family.

The key to the Bridge to Self-Sufficiency is Mobility Mentoring®. Mobility Mentoring is the long-term partnership between staff and participants through which participants acquire the resources, knowledge, and skills necessary to attain and preserve their economic independence. Mobility Mentors coach participants in setting priorities, developing action plans, honoring commitments, connecting to resources, and achieving goals.

The graphic on this page details the Bridge to Self-Sufficiency with assessment levels listed in each category: family stability, well-being, education and training, financial management, and employment and career management.