Bridge Builders COLLABORATE 2016 Summer Conferences Begin June 13

Posted by knetzler on Jun 01, 2016

The BRIDGES legacy program helps local youth collaborate with diverse peers, unlock leadership potential, and become a force for positive social change.

It’s been 28 years since community volunteer Rebecca Webb Wilson pioneered a radical program to bring together high school students from diverse backgrounds—not just to foster better understanding and develop leadership skills, but to forge lasting ties between future leaders of the Memphis community.

Today, the Bridge Builders program Wilson established engages more than 1,000 youth per year, ranging from grades 7-12 and representing every public, private and parochial high school in Memphis and Shelby County.

The Bridge Builders class of 2017 will begin their participation in the yearlong program with summer leadership conferences, starting Monday, June 13.

Facilitated by BRIDGES staff, these weeklong conferences continue through July 29. Peers who start off as strangers quickly become close friends through participation in high-energy activities (including rock wall climbing, ropes course challenges, and zip-lining) and discussions designed to build camaraderie, confidence, and critical thinking skills. Summer conferences equip youth with the tools and relationships they need to make the most of their upcoming Bridge Builders year.

As they proceed through their year of participation in leadership and diversity trainings, electives and community action events, Bridge Builders become:

  • Motivated, courageous and self-confident
  • Creative and strong communicators
  • Equipped to collaborate and work effectively as part of a team
  • Well versed in the youth-led social change movement and able to work within organizational structures
  • Ready to initiate and lead complex responses to issues that affect their lives and the well-being of the entire community

For a view of the summer conference experience from the student perspective, check out our Bridge Builders COLLABORATE program video:


2016 Bridge Builders Summer Conference Locations:

  • Grades 7-10 meet at the BRIDGES Center (477 N. Fifth St.) daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Grade 11 students grade spend their week in residence at the University of Memphis (3615 Central Ave.).
  • Grade 12 students will stay at For The Kingdom Camp and Retreat Center (4100 Raleigh Millington Rd.).

To schedule media interviews with BRIDGES staff or Bridge Builders students, request photos or video, or make further inquiries, contact Director of Communications Kat Netzler at or 901.260.3714.