Mercy Street: Effective Help for Poverty


The Mercy Street Project matches every child in a small West Dallas community with a Christian adult beginning in the fourth grade and continuing through high school graduation. It doesn’t require a lot of money. It’s not run by politicians. It’s not a short term dump-and-run project. The Mercy Street Project stands out as a model of churches doing a noble thing. This project is transforming lives in a small community in a big way.

Here’s how bad the situation was. One high school had 394 freshmen, but over the following four years 300 of them dropped out of school. The average SAT score was 753. The Dallas Morning News commented on this neighborhood in 1992:

“If Dallas has a netherworld, it is in the bleak area west of the Trinity. Maligned, misunderstood, a place of crime, poverty, disease, and neglect, this is West Dallas.”

mercy-street-logo.jpgThere are 2672 children in this community needing mentors. Many are already assigned, but many more volunteers are needed, particularly men. 85% of the mentored children are fatherless.

Why does this long-term commitment approach work? Because the personal involvement of one caring adult develops non-cognitive skills, as research has shown. These skills are influenced by 1) Support, 2) Empowerment, 3) Setting of Boundaries & Expectations, and 4) Guidance in the Constructive Use of Time. These influences by the mentor, in time, will cause discernable changes in five non-cognitive areas. These changes lead directly to improved educational and behavioral outcomes. The benefits are far reaching and measurable.

Churches such as Park Cities Presbyterian, West Dallas Community, Highland Park Presbyterian, First Baptist Dallas, Highland Park Methodist, Northwest Bible and Watermark Community have joined or are joining this effort. Churches who want to participate should contact Bill Farrell at

The Mercy Street Project is encouraging to me because it is a way “religion that is pure and genuine in the sight of God the Father” (James 1:27) shows itself. Also, the outpouring of caring without fanfare demonstrates what God likes to see: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8


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