Lift off! Developing the potential of Children & Youth

A lot of kids come to Bridges with a lot of hurdles to jump. They’ve been uprooted and living in the turmoil of family homelessness. Many have already experienced violence inside or outside their homes. They often have health conditions, learning disabilities, or school problems. Refugee children and youth usually have limited English and are struggling to adapt to a whole new country and culture.

At Bridges, we surround them with positive, enriching experiences that can build trust, confidence, and respect for self and others. We integrate academic support, life skills, and employment readiness with the physical activity and fun that children need and crave. Volunteers and community partners make it possible for us to offer an array of activities to advance language skills, boost fitness and well-being, prepare for employment, spark entrepreneurship, and instill the notions of generosity and “giving back.”

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 Smithsonian Institution, and skilled volunteers, the Academy builds confidence and leadership skills through career exploration, community service, health/fitness, and many more creative, challenging, and rewarding activities.

b2i Runs!

This extraordinary running club introduces kids to the idea of a healthy “life style.” With several 5k races already in the rear view mirror, members of b2i 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. An added bonus? The club also keeps some of our staff looking slim and trim!

After-School Tutoring

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.

SKIT

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, or crafting, or playful competitions. The SKIT “rec room” also offers computers, books, and board games. Our Youth Coordinator adds bimonthly Saturday field trips to various educational and recreational sites around Metro DC.

Lemonade Stand

This is the centerpiece of Bridges’ summer youth program – and yes, it really is a lemonade stand. Open twice a week, 5 -7 pm, the stand targets people walking home from work. It’s fun for children, and they’re part of the prep/cleanup, management, and promotion. At the same time, they learn some essential life skills and values through sessions conducted by the Arlington County 4-H Extension Program: good decision-making, a strong work ethic, and being reliable. The kids also get the chance to “give back” by deciding how to spend the proceeds, with half going to their choice of charity and half supporting a summer field trip.

"b2i’s Youth Leadership Academy is a life-changer! The staff helped my daughter with self-esteem and confidence.  Her attitude towards school changed for the better and her grades improved.  And, staff helped her get a summer internship at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History!" — AA

Kids & Money

Getting it Right from the Start
"Children are never too young to start understanding money, and  b2i has developed an entire financial literacy curriculum to get them off on the right foot. Kids get all the basics of saving, budgeting, shopping – even the meaning of credit and how to use a financial institution. When both mothers and children are working on money management, they often end up reinforcing each other."