Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Emelda Curry, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Margarethe Kusenbach, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Tyson, Ph.D.


theories of poverty, organizational values, community development, civic associations, small nonprofit organizations, community poverty


Nonprofit organizations have become a necessary staple in the lives of people and communities experiencing poverty. Many of these organizations provide services that they think their communities need. The solutions and services these organizations provide are incumbent on what the organizations think causes poverty. Although the motivations behind these organizations have good intentions, their approach to poverty could further jeopardize people and communities by not providing proper or necessary services that have the ability to help people get out of poverty. To explore how organizational values and perspectives on poverty are operationalized, I examined one nonprofit grassroots organization in Tampa Heights, Tampa, Florida. I applied the following four theories of poverty: individual, cultural, political-economic, and geographic to explain how participants discussed poverty in Tampa Heights. Interviews revealed that while many participants subscribed to multiple theories of poverty, each participant held one dominant view. This finding, among others, exposed the complexities of how individuals understand poverty as well as how nonprofit organizations approach these multifaceted issues. Thus, indicating the need for a clearer explanation of how and why people use these theories or combinations of theories to explain both causes and solutions to poverty.

Included in

Sociology Commons