Urban Alliance

The Hartford Project: An Opportunity for Youth to Increase Leadership, Grow in Faith

Article and photo by Sarah Thompson, Director of Communications & Volunteer Mobilization

Each summer, hundreds of youth and youth group leaders participate in The Hartford Project, a collaboration of churches that seek to experience and share God's love in Hartford.
 
During several four-day blocks, middle- and high-schoolers join with peers to engage in youth service-learning, which positively impacts the community and helps THP participants learn valuable skills and reflect on their experiences, communities, and broader issues such as social justice and civic responsibility.
 
“It's such a great opportunity to meet other Christians, serve together and have fun in Hartford,” shared Jacquelyn Perreault, Program Director for THP. “When I first participated in THP, God opened my eyes to His great love and gave me opportunities to share His love with others. It's such a unique and immersive week—to learn from God, live in service, and experience some of the great things Hartford has to offer.”
 
Three components of THP weave together opportunities for teens to build character, grow in leadership, and deepen their faith in God, by serving at work sites throughout the city, connecting together through worship and prayer sessions, and learning about social justice the benefits of urban living.

In a recent program evaluation conducted by Urban Alliance, the vast majority of youth who participated in THP in 2017 had a positive experience. 96.7% indicated that they plan to be part of a community service project in the future, 98.8% felt they worked on a project that positively impacted the Hartford community, and 93.4% of youth indicated that they grew in their relationship with God.

Participation in THP increased youth’s leadership confidence, improved their view of the city of Hartford, increased their comfort interacting with people from different cultures and ethnicities, and increased the importance they placed on unity and relationship among believers in the body of Christ.

While the majority of THP youth and leaders are from churches in the suburban towns of Greater Hartford, many are from the city of Hartford and face increased barriers to participating in impactful youth programs like THP.

Urban Alliance has stepped in to help alleviate some of these challenges, and to increase access for teens to participate in THP by providing scholarships that will be awarded to Hartford churches and ministry organizations that participate UA’s Next Generation initiative.

"Often parents who are raising children in socioeconomically fragile communities greatly desire to expose their children to programs and activities that will empower them, but are overwhelmed by financial constraints," explained Rosaicela Rodriguez, Urban Alliance's Director of Implementation, Children & Youth Initiatives.

The hope is that burdens can be lifted for the families of some of these youth, so they are provided with an equal opportunity to develop the character, relationships and skills needed to succeed in their schools and communities.

As registration opens up for THP 2018, so do the opportunities for hundreds of youth to connect, serve and grow. To learn more about participating in Urban Alliance’s Next Generation initiative or THP scholarships, contact Rosaicela Rodriguez.