Mercy Street Leadership Institute

We asked Mercy Street, a TxCCDN member organization in West Dallas, to share a little with us about their Leadership Institute.  It’s a great example of the Christian community development principle of proactively and intentionally developing and raising up indigenous leaders in our communities.


By Garrett Smith, Director of Leadership Institute at Mercy Street

From the start our dream at Mercy Street was to witness first hand young children grow and mature into influential West Dallas leaders.  For 12 years we’ve labored towards this goal, seeking to cultivate committed relationships that spark extraordinary change.  We celebrate the results.  Our average mentoring match endures over 4 years! Nearly 600 youth participate in our sports leagues!

These programs have successfully made us all the more fond of our neighbors and increased our blazing desire to see them do well in life.

This is why we’ve recently begun what we are calling the Leadership Institute.  We bluntly tell our students our goal is to prepare them to launch.  Students are selected to enter the institute and welcomed to participate in activities during the school year and an intensive program during the summer.

The 10 week summer program proves to be our most impactful time with the students. During this time we seek to develop our student’s social/emotional health, marketplace awareness and Christian worldview. We immerse them in experiences that are difficult and build their GRIT and optimism muscles (non-cognitive skills proven to increase their success).  One such exercise is a 7 day backpacking trip through the mountains of Colorado.  We will start 2 small micro-businesses to teach them how the marketplace works.  These businesses (the Mercy Street Cafe and the Mercy Street Artisan Workshop) will be open 3 days a week and prepare goods for REAL customers.  Students will be exposed first hand to essential skills the marketplace will demand of them.

At Mercy Street we think leadership development is to be taken seriously.  We continue to learn and grow as an organization and learn more about what it is going to take for our students to be ready for the real world.  We invite you to come by and tour these business labs and watch all the learning take place.  You can make a lunch reservation beginning June 14 for every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (email Ally at Or, support the students by purchasing some of their wonderful handcrafted goods (including t-shirts, home decor signs, and coffee tables) at

Mercy Street will be hosting a night of BBQ & Worship in their beautiful outdoor space during the first night of the 2016 No Need Among You Conference in Dallas.  Details on this event can be found here!

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