Stories of Faithfulness: Learning the Value of Wholeness and Sustainability Through Innovate

Based in central Oklahoma, Branch15 was founded in 2013 to serve women in critical, life-controlling situations. Their mission has always been one of healing and restoration in the lives of their clients. Branch15’s main ministry participants have little to no support systems to address crises, which range from substance addiction to sex trafficking to abusive relationships to incarceration.

Branch15 provides their clients with transitional housing and robust rehabilitation classes. Their programs center around connection, care, authenticity, and empowerment. In addition, because many of the women do not enjoy healthy co-parenting relationships with the fathers of their children, they also offer programs designed for mothers who are the sole caretakers of their children and for mothers who do not have custody of their children.

Paving the Way for Holistic Ministry Design

Stefannie Powell, the Executive Director of Branch15, and her staff joined the Spring 2022 Innovate cohort to develop a fathers’ advocacy program, which complements their existing programs for mothers by facilitating holistic, family-oriented change. During their time in the Innovate course, their team experienced an “aha” moment that caused them to reevaluate their program design. Innovate helped them recognize the value of engaging with each and every stakeholder (ministry participants, staff, volunteers, financial gift partners), bringing everyone to the table to collaborate.

On the decision to expand their programming to fathers, Stefannie cited a pivotal realization: “I think I’ve seen [the fathers] as the enemies because I see them as stumbling blocks that get in the way of our women’s success. But through Innovate… God has really shown me they’re not the enemy… they may be stumbling blocks, but they’re stumbling blocks that only know what they know.” Her focus has now shifted towards championing courses on healthy co-parenting relationships and allyship between parents, who often come from similar traumatic backgrounds and who are victims of broken systems.

Takeaways from Innovate

Two key aspects to graduation from Branch15 are monthly check-ins for specific program requirements and quarterly assessments of goals and overall health. Stefannie explained that they will be integrating the Chalmers Center’s asset map (a tool they learned from Innovate) with their graduation plan to provide pathways towards greater independence for their clients. The hope is that a woman finds healthier alternatives to meet her needs and that, simultaneously, the connections they make through Branch15 can serve as a “phone book” for resources post-graduation.

Also included in Innovate’s curriculum are 20 Ministry Design Principles from A Field Guide to Becoming Whole. Stefannie explained that she and her team have homed in on the third principle (“All the ministry stakeholders should ‘pray without ceasing’”) as they enter into upcoming strategic planning and ministry evaluation. Their team discovered that this principle was missing from their program design as they equipped their clients and stakeholders—“We teach them to love Jesus, that Jesus has all the answers…. But do we teach our stakeholders, from top to bottom, that the only answer is to grab hold of Jesus like there is nothing else?”

There is no perfect blueprint for designing a poverty alleviation ministry, but Innovate equips teams with tools that help them apply biblical principles to challenging situations. In sum, says Stefannie, “Chalmers is the one-stop shop for the rock-solid foundation for your organization…you apply these principles and live by these principles, and you win the game…. The setup for success is infinite…”

An Opportunity to Innovate

Wondering how you can make improvements to your ministry? Join us for the spring session of Innovate. We’ll walk you through our ministry design principles, share best practices from asset based community development, and introduce you to innovation tools.

Posted in ,
The Chalmers Center

The Chalmers Center

The Chalmers Center helps God’s people rethink poverty and respond with practical biblical principles so that all are restored to flourishing.


  1. Nicholas Herndon on February 17, 2023 at 10:16 am

    Thank you for sharing these stories. I love to read the stories of Christ at work healing not only individuals, but communities as well.
    Rev 22:2

Leave a Comment