Building BRIDGES

Posted by BRIDGES Web Team on Mar 25, 2014

(Memphis – — At MONUMENTAL, the 25th Annual National Service-Learning Conference®, there will be a plethora of remarkable educators, organizations, and speakers that will change the way you think about service-learning and education in general. Just one of the outstanding organizations that will be in attendance is BRIDGES, a nonprofit based in Memphis, Tenn., that has been developing leadership skills and diversity appreciation — with an emphasis on community transformation — for 26 years. 

BRIDGES, through their signature program called “Bridge Builders”, serves students in 6th-12th grade by challenging them to create programs to engender social and educational innovation and then to implement them in creative ways. According to Staci Franklin, the Vice President of Communications for BRIDGES, there are three major components to the Bridge Builder program:

 1. Connect: This step includes presenting small group workshops and large-scale events scheduled throughout the year that proved a sample of the community BRIDGES builds without a long-term commitment. 

2. Collaborate: This section includes a week-long summer intensive conference, followed by monthly trainings throughout the following year that focus on promoting understanding, advancing justice and inspiring youth-led social change. 

3. Change: This final step includes a select number of highly engaged, dedicated youth from 8th-12th grades with the opportunity to become leaders who advance community action projects of their choosing. 

This type of comprehensive programming is what creates real, positive and actual change, and is the caliber that NYLC recognizes and strives to support. 

Franklin commented on the direct results of the Bridge Builder programming, “Most recently, the Bridge Builder CHANGE students had an impact on Shelby County Schools and the Board of Education’s unanimous decision to create a policy for the implementation of a student congress. This is the work they will be presenting at MONUMENTAL.” 

The following information denotes the official schedule for BRIDGES at MONUMENTAL, the 25th Annual National Service-Learning Conference®: 

Thursday, April 10 – Networking Breakfast 

Friday, April 11 – Workshop: Youth-Lead Social Change: How Youth Shape the Future 

Description: Join youth leaders and the adults who support them in an action-packed workshop on Youth-Led Social Change. Youth leaders in Memphis are working across sectors of the community to understand the root causes of issues affecting all youth. They identify issues, conduct participatory action research, educate adults and youth, and work with civil leaders to advocate for policy level community change. Learn frameworks, skills and activities to apply this approach to any setting. 

(Further details on sessions will be in NYLC’s Program Guide, to be distributed at the conference).