In recent years an interesting change has taken place at the Washington Urban League-one that many residents around town point to with pride. Under the presidency of John E. Jacob since 1975, the league has been transformed from a more traditional civil rights organization to a modern and active source of useful research about the community, with programs geared to its findings. During Mr. Jacob's term, the league's budget has nearly doubled, and its membership has increased by about 25 percent, to around 9,000 members. One of the impressive projects two years ago was the league's "SOS '76-Speak Out for Survival," which was a survey of some 1,000 households in the city. It dealt not with which programs were helping the poor, but with how the poor ranked their proglems.

Not only did that data help the league reshape its service programs, but government groups, too, have cited the findings. Mr. Jacob reports that a similar 1978 study has been conducted and should be released soon. But he also has announced his departure, to become executive vice president in the National Urban League's New York office, the chief aide to national president Vernon Jordan. That is a well-deserved promotion, but Mr. Jacob will be missed. In wishing him the best, we hope that the new look he established at the local league will continue to contribute to the betterment of programs for the less fortunate in our community.