Want To Make a Difference? Consider a Summer of Service

Kirsten Brandt James

I clearly remember that feeling of the last day of school and the summer before me – one filled with swimming lessons, Girl Scout camp, and all kinds of fun activities that my mom would find for us.

As I became involved professionally with youth development in the 1990s, we realized how vital that out-of-school time was and started to see the stark differences for those with access and opportunity and those with limited or no access to quality out-of-school experiences.

The “summer slide” risk for children from underserved communities has been well documented and researched. A 2011 research report by the RAND Corporation found that summer learning loss, particularly in reading, disproportionately affects economically disadvantaged students.

In 2021, we are dealing with something even more devastating: The COVID-19 slide has put thousands of children behind in both reading and math in school.

We help our young adults find that place where their deepest joy intersects with the world’s deepest need.

According to a recent article in the Dallas Morning News, “The pandemic has caused deep, ‘horrifying’ learning losses for Dallas children, and underscored the disparities among Black students, according to new DISD results. Half of all Dallas ISD students experienced learning loss in math during disruptions caused by COVID-19, and nearly a third slipped in reading, according to the district’s analysis of start-of-year assessments given to students in September and October.” (Dallas Morning News, 11/5/2020) 

Project Transformation was founded 23 years ago to address the need for quality out-of-school time activities, strengthen communities, and help young adults discern their purpose and learn about service. 

We will accomplish this mission in 2021 with summer day camp programs at 11 sites throughout the Dallas area conducted in collaboration with churches. We have programming for students in grades one through 12. We will be in person this summer following all current CDC guidelines and protocols for COVID-19. More than ever, our children and youth need opportunities to learn and grow in a loving and fun community. 

Our programs are planned and implemented by talented young adult leaders who commit a summer or year of their lives to build relationships with children and experience intentional community with their peers. 

Because young adults are in a stage of life where they ask – “What is my purpose?” – we provide a paid service opportunity where they can explore their strengths and put their faith in action. While our young adults invest in children through the program Monday through Thursday, we provide a space where they can invest in themselves on Fridays. Through weekly visits with local leaders who have dedicated their lives to supporting their community, we help our young adults find that place where their deepest joy intersects with the world’s deepest need.

We know that only in collaboration with our community is our work made possible.

Want To Help?

• Refer a college-age young adult to apply for a summer of service with Project Transformation North Texas.

• Volunteer as a virtual reading buddy or in some other way.

• Visit ptnorthtexas.org to learn more about how to make a difference in the summer of 2021.

Kirsten Brandt James is the executive director for Project Transformation North Texas.

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