1. Holistic People-Driven Development

Urban poverty has many facets, and so it's important to develop a holistic method to solving the problems. Evidence shows that results from single-issue, short-term projects are superficial and quickly dissolve. In contrast, successful projects with lasting benefits serve the whole person, have a long-term, holistic focus, and involve community members in decision making from the start. 

We have, and continue to develop, community-based interventions that address urban poverty from different angles - including community health, job creation, leadership development, social-emotional health, and more.

As we pursue holistic, people-driven development, we see transformation happening through the following signs:


Learning that empowers

Transformation looks like...improved accessibility to education that equips and enhances life.

  • Youth: 2,800 youth directly impacted through life skills education via our sports league; youth groups and involvement in 11 public schools; increasing high school attendance and reducing self-destructive patterns.
  • Youth Leaders: 150 youth leaders developed.
  • Children: 1,000 involved in kids' clubs and summer camps.

Healthy habitat for all

Transformation looks like...improved environmental and community health.

  • Community Health: 800 families (representing 3,500 people) taught public health prevention, resulting in a decease of preventable diseases; deworming completed for 100,000 people in collaboration with two Public Health Departments.
  • Health Promoters: 105 community health promoters trained.
  • Environmental Clean-Up: 14,000 people benefit from access to safer and cleaner public spaces.
  • Households: 40 homes improved in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity.

Wealth Creation

Transformation looks like...expanded opportunities to achieve economic self sufficiency.

  • Micro-enterprise: Coached the launching of 3 micro-enterprises.
  • Vocational training: 62 youth completed vocational training.

Strengthen Faith Communities

Many slum-dwellers, due to pain and trauma, often do not have hope that real change is possible. Spiritual transformation is key for them to gain hope, boost their self-esteem and to adopt new life values. Changing the way they see the world and themselves is crucial to overcoming the hopelessness that can result from urban poverty.

Churches that understand their purpose are God's principal instrument to bring about transformation. We believe that healthy and holistic local churches with a vision for community transformation are vital in bringing about long-term sustainable change.

As we Strengthen Faith Communities, we see transformation happening through the following signs:


Jesus Communities

Transformation looks like...reproducing, missional communities of people who follow Jesus.

  • Churches/Small Groups: Planting 7 house churches and 11 home bible studies
  • Training: 13 church pastors and over 50 church leaders trained in holistic ministry and theology
  • Network: Coaching 30+ churches that are active in the Coalition for Peace and Justice, impacting over 10,000 urban poor neighbors through missional projects

mental freedom

Transformation looks like...increased spiritual and emotional health and freedom from destructive patterns.

  • Emotional Recovery Self-Help Groups: A total of 130 community members participated in our gruposVIDA (life groups) pilot project, increasing their hope and self-confidence.

Peace Building

Urban poverty is the breakdown of relationships and so our peace building efforts involve reestablishing relationships at all levels - family units, communities, among the urban poor, between the rich and poor, and with existing networks. Building relational bridges within urban poor communities and via coalitions, broad-based networks, NGOs, churches, private investors, social entrepreneurs, donor agencies, and local governments is vital to take on bigger issues.

As we engage in peace building efforts, we see transformation happening through the following signs:


Whole Families

Transformation looks like...increased family health and well-being.

  • Marriage and Parenting: Three churches recently piloted our School for Parents and Marriage Enrichment Programs with a total of 120 adults participating

Strong Civil Society

Transformation looks like...increased civic participation and community engagement for the common good.

  • Community Projects: Completion of 27 community projects benefitting over 20,000 people involving improved access to basic services (water, drainage, electricity), security and safety, environmental upgrading, pest control, transport and school improvements
  • Civic Participation: 47 citizen committees formed, representing 750 families with over 200 community leaders trained

Deepening Reconciliation

Transformation looks like...improved social cohesion and relationships within and across communities.

  • Trust-Building: Drastic improvement in social trust and community relations between neighbors; 40% of neighbors relate more, know each other by name and participate together in community projects, up from 11%.
  • Relationships between poor and non-poor: Mutually enriching relationships built between middle/upper-middle class and their urban poor neighbors

Drive Systemic Change

Because of the multi-faceted and complex nature of urban poverty, it is essential to drive change from the bottom-up and the top-down. The micro level of development, where people are empowered and well-being is improved must come together with the macro level of development, where institutions and systems are reformed to work for the poor, rather than against them.

As we drive systemic change, we see transformation happen in the following ways:


Systems that work:

  • Legal/Political: Participation in Citizen Summit with Parliament resulted in an approved legislative proposal; advocacy for students who were sexually abused by teacher resulted in new security protocols being established an entire school district, impacting over 6,000 primary school students.
  • Political/Economic: Advocating for good governance at the municipal level has kept over $500,000 USD in being paid by the poor in bribes, significantly reducing costs to receive basic rights and services

Reproduce and Multiply Holistic Solutions

Our model focuses on drawing on the unique assets of each community, rather than its needs, so that we can adapt and scale the model in different environments. The ability to scale promising solutions hinges on our ability to develop local leaders. Without local participation in decision making, lasting change will not occur. 


As we begin implementing the change model in new communities, we see transformation happening through...

Healthy reproduction

  • Change Model: Reproduction of our change model in two additional slum communities, for a total of three cities
  • Coalition Building: Founding of Coalition for Peace and Justice, an umbrella organization for churches in five municipalities on the eastern region of Mexico City committed to seeing holistic change in their region
  • Partnerships: Partnerships established for collaoration and scaling of the change model with two elite universities (UNAM and Monterrey Institute of Technology), Habitat for Humanity, World Vision and Mexico United Against Delinquency