DLP Positive Returns Foundation Discovers the Power of  Teen Transformation in Guatemala—Miracles in the Making

DLP Positive Returns Foundation Discovers the Power of Teen Transformation in Guatemala—Miracles in the Making

DLP Capital is all about housing. And for many, a house is emblematic of family. 

But in some parts of the world, children never get to know much of either. That’s why the DLP Positive Returns Foundation is going the extra mile (well, more like 2,540 miles, to be exact) to help out orphaned teens in Guatemala City. These are children who, for the most part, have never known a home as they near adulthood. Through the non-profit organization Transforming Futures, orphaned teens and others without stable homes around Guatemala City are taught life skills, provided healthy meals, and offered spiritual guidance. The goal is to help prepare these young adults for prosperous and independent lives upon reaching the age of 18—when they no longer have orphanages as safety nets. Transforming Futures helps out other children facing poverty as well, but it’s the teen transition program that is especially a hallmark of the organization’s success.

“You might ask, ‘Why Guatemala?’” said Danny Sells, Executive Director of DLP Positive Returns Foundation. “But we have to start somewhere, and through multiple DLP Capital investors, all roads seemed to lead to Guatemala, where we can be empowered to make a huge impact.” Added Sells, “The impact of Transforming Futures’ teen program is profound and could serve as a model for other Central American nations. The program is not just about education and skills training; it’s also about therapeutic healing for young adults in the program and creating relationships, as staff and peers become the family—the ‘home’ these teens never before had.”

Recently, at a DLP Capital event, more than $80,000 was raised to support Transforming Futures. DLP Positive Returns Foundation is also providing strategic counsel to the organization for a long-term plan to expand the program.

Metamorphosis From Orphans to “Family”

Exactly how does the organization’s young adult program work? The program for teen orphans typically begins at age 14. Once or twice a week after school, each youth goes to the Transforming Futures training center. Many of the students have had traumatic upbringings, and so providing emotional support to them is first and foremost among the cares of the foundation in the first year of the teen transformation program. Some of the children may have been raised combing for daily meals among the mountains of the city’s garbage dump. Others have suffered abuse. One young adult had his entire family killed in an act of violence. And so on go the heartbreaking stories. But with Transforming Futures, they’re given a new outlook on life, with support at the training centers, including psychologists, therapists, social workers, and more.

Says Pablo Villaran, president of Transforming Futures, “Guatemala has no foster care system, so in many cases, these children have no one in the world who they think they can depend on. We want to see change in our time—and it starts with teaching these young adults to open up their lives to rely on others. That’s where Transforming Futures comes in.”

While the first year of the teen program focuses on providing stability and support to teens, the second year is geared toward professional development and teaching real-life skills. Teens are guided in reaching their academic potential, learn how to apply for jobs, and learn English since that exponentially multiplies their chances for future jobs. In year three, they begin acquiring trade skills whether in barbershops or beauty salons, culinary or coding, photography or plumbing, and more. Transforming Futures partners with local businesses in a multitude of mentorship programs, which currently includes talks with Pepsi regarding internships at its nearby facilities. Transforming Futures currently supports about 50 students in total, with an aim to increase that by another 30 teens in 2024.

In the past, when these types of young adults turned 18 and aged out of the orphanages, they walked through the gates to face lives of destitution, including vulnerability to gangs and trafficking. Transforming Futures has different plans. Equipped with education, spiritual strength, and life skills as well as professional skills, these young adults become ready for new beginnings. Transforming Futures will typically help each settle into a studio apartment, providing resources to the young adults as they start on their new life journeys, including weekly mentor visits for continued guidance and friendship. “It is truly transformational,” added Pablo. “Every single child is a miracle in the making.”

For more miracles, the hope is that Transforming Futures can create a new training campus to help more orphaned teens—and sponsor communities of apartments for teen alumni to reside near to one another for continued camaraderie and peer support.

Help us Make more Miracles Happen!