Developing the potential of Children & Youth
Youth who are currently at-risk for or experiencing homelessness are often a forgotten population. These youths are exposed to more risk factors, including trauma, poor physical/mental health, stress, developmental delays, and missed educational opportunities.
At Bridges, we surround youth with positive, enriching experiences that can build trust, confidence, and respect for self and others. Volunteers and community partners make it possible for us to offer an array of activities that advance academic skills, self-esteem, job readiness, health and well-being.
Over the last year, our Youth Development program served 67 individuals.
- 82% increased their grade point average,
- 4 out of 4 high school seniors graduated high school,
- 3 of the high school seniors started college, and
- 1 of the high school seniors attended college on a Fulbright Scholarship.
Youth Leadership Academy
The Bridges Youth Leadership Academy is the cornerstone of our youth development program, serving at-risk youth aged 11-17. Partnering with the Arlington County 4-H Extension Program, the Academy builds confidence and leadership skills through career exploration, community service, health/fitness, and many more creative, challenging, and rewarding activities.
This extraordinary running club introduces kids to the idea of a healthy “lifestyle.” With several 5k races already in the rear view mirror, members of Bridges Runs! are looking to pick up steam—and awards. With each kilometer, our youth feel the thrill of success, no matter where they place in the race.
Skilled volunteers, many with advanced degrees, pair up one-to-one or in small groups to tackle homework assignments or difficult subject matter. Since over half of our youth are foreign-born, tutors and mentors also focus in on specialized techniques for improving English language skills. The intent is to customize academic support to individual needs.
Support for Kids in Transition was created to provide some fun for the children and youth residing in Bridges’ emergency shelter, Sullivan House. Typically twice a week, volunteers organize activities that might include birthday parties, crafting, or playful competitions. The SKIT “rec room” also offers computers, books, and board games. Our staff also help coordinate field trips to various educational and recreational sites around Metro DC.
This kid-run enterprise is the centerpiece of Bridges’ summer youth program. The Lemonade Stand teaches youth essential life skills, good decision-making, a strong work ethic, and how to manage their own small business. The youth are in charge of the prep/cleanup, management, and promotion. At the same time, they learn the importance of “giving back” by deciding how to spend the proceeds, with half going to their choice of charity and half supporting a summer field trip.
Last year, the kids were able to present Homeward Trails Animal Rescue with a check for $650. That’s a lot of cups of lemonade!