Project Transformation has come a long way since its founders, Dr. Leighton K. Farrell and Sarah Wilke, first sketched out their blueprint for the model on a napkin in October 1997. It has not only grown and developed throughout North Texas, but has been taken root in several other parts of the country under the leadership of young adult alumni. What started with 22 young adults serving about 200 children at five site churches in Dallas has grown to over 250 young adults serving over 2,000 children at 27 site churches in four different annual conferences of the United Methodist Church.
Today, Project Transformation is entering a new phase of its 18 year-old history. Having demonstrated the three-fold value of the Dallas-based program and proven that the model is replicable in other cities, we are taking new steps to carry forward the vision for national expansion.
But why is national expansion necessary? Bill Milliken, founder of the national nonprofit Communities in Schools, once said, “Replicability is the precondition of any transformative change.” After witnessing the lasting impact of Project Transformation in changing the lives of children, college-age young adults, and churches through relationships of mutuality, we feel compelled to do more in bringing this ministry to scale. The challenges that Project Transformation tackles are pervasive across the country; the key components of the PT model are present in most communities and are ready to be leveraged and connected; and the number of alumni and church or community leaders interested in replicating the model continues to grow. While we believe that the ownership of the solutions to these challenges should be local, it does not make sense for communities to pour precious time and resources into developing new programs that often reinvent the wheel. There is a smarter, more efficient way to use our resources to bring about change. Adopting Project Transformation’s proven model has many benefits, including leveraging the knowledge developed by others, reducing the risk of failure, and making it easier to attract funding.
In response to the growing need and interest, Project Transformation National was founded in 2015 thanks to an investment by the Young Clergy Initiative of the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. The two primary objectives of the new national organization are to (1) facilitate the sustainable replication of the Project Transformation model and (2) support the continued growth and development of existing PT chapters. Since the national organization’s inception, we have supported the expansion into three additional annual conferences of the United Methodist Church and are working with steering committees in several other locations to further expand Project Transformation’s reach.
In March 2016, the national staff moved into our new office, which is co-located with the PT North Texas chapter in Dallas, TX. We are excited to spread the mission of Project Transformation in new parts of the country. If you would like to support our national expansion efforts, we invite you to make a donation to Project Transformation National. If you would like to learn more about starting a chapter of Project Transformation in your community, we would love to talk with you. Contact Eric Lindh or click here for more information.