Matthew Lamanilao: “Togetherness Is The Essence Of Bridge Builders”

Posted by knetzler on Oct 01, 2018

The support of BRIDGES’s generous donors has changed the lives of thousands of Bridge Builders youth. Matthew, a 17-year-old senior at Christian Brothers High School in his fifth year of participation in Bridge Builders COLLABORATE, is just one of them. Matthew Lamanilao took a deep breath as he stepped into the spotlight and waited for the cheers to die down. On the last day of his final Bridge Builders summer leadership conference, he’d been selected by his team to represent them with a speech at the closing induction ceremony. “My mother immigrated to America alone from the Philippines,” he told the crowd of family, friends, alumni and supporters. “In college,

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Dana Wilson Selected Next President and CEO of BRIDGES

Posted by knetzler on Sep 27, 2018

Dana Wilson has been selected to succeed Cynthia Ham as president and chief executive officer of BRIDGES USA when Ham steps down at the end of December 2019. Wilson, the current vice president of the Bridge Builders program, was selected by unanimous vote of the BRIDGES Board of Trustees on Sept. 27, 2018. Ham, who has led the 96-year-old youth leadership and development nonprofit for the past six years, will remain CEO through 2019 while Wilson steps into the role of president. Wilson will then assume the dual president/CEO position in January 2020. “Dana is uniquely suited for this job,” said Ham. “She has the passion for youth leadership development,

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BRIDGES Debuts The Youth Action Storytelling Project: A National Tool For Youth Leadership

Posted by knetzler on Sep 12, 2018

“Youth have always been the catalyst for change. Real change can happen when we get out of our own way, stop trying to be so right as adults, stop trying to act like we have it all figured out, and let them do what they were born to do, which is transform the world.” —Erica, 25, Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!), Charlotte, NC In its 30th year of youth leadership development work in Memphis, BRIDGES USA has published a new online platform, the Youth Action Storytelling Project, to serve as a national resource for individuals and organizations working to promote youth-led social change. The website,, features compelling video interviews, brief

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Remembering Father Don Mowery: 1931-2018

Posted by knetzler on Jun 13, 2018

The entire BRIDGES family mourns the loss of the Reverend Donald E. Mowery, who passed away yesterday, June 12, at age 86. Our thoughts are with his wife of 35 years, Julie, and their extended family. For generations, the name “Father Don” has been synonymous with selfless dedication to the lives of young people in Memphis. A Yale Divinity School graduate and ordained Episcopal priest, Father Don came to Memphis in 1963 to lead a new social service ministry called Youth Service Inc.—the precursor to the modern-day BRIDGES USA. Father Don’s leadership in our organization spanned more than 30 years, and it’s because of his incredible heart for youth that

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Bridge Builder Janiya Douglas Earns Princeton Prize in Race Relations

Posted by knetzler on May 08, 2018

White Station High School senior and Bridge Builders CHANGE Fellow Janiya Douglas is one of 28 high school students from around the United States named as winners of the 2018 Princeton Prize in Race Relations. The students were honored during the annual Princeton Prize Symposium on Race held on the Princeton University campus. The awards recognize young people who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing the cause of positive race relations and who have worked to increase understanding and respect among all races. The winners participated in a two-day program on campus that included presentations and a celebration of the 15th anniversary of the founding of the prize. The Princeton Prize

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Analyse Capodiferro: “Change Starts With You, Here, And Now”

Posted by knetzler on Apr 30, 2018

Thanks to our incredible supporters, BRIDGES has changed the lives of thousands of Bridge Builders youth. Analyse Capodiferro—a senior at Houston High School, a Bridge Builder of three years, and a BB Leadership Board member—is just one of them.  “Before I got involved with BRIDGES, I was incredibly shy.” We hear that all the time from students, but it’s surprising coming from a talented singer, dancer and actress like Analyse, who’ll be attending the University of Memphis this fall on a full-ride acting scholarship. “But I made the decision to jump in to BRIDGES because I was ready to make something of myself,” she said. “The first summer conference, my

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Scenes From Memphis Students’ Rally Against Gun Violence

Posted by knetzler on Apr 21, 2018

View scenes from the Shelby County Schools walkouts on the Memphis Flyer’s News Blog.

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“Our Walkout Declaration” By SCS Students

Posted by knetzler on Apr 09, 2018

We, Shelby County School students, have seen violence in our schools firsthand. We have seen people with mental health issues and family trauma put second to testing, attempting to make us more “orderly.” We have seen LGBTQ+ youth, immigrants, survivors, and students with learning disabilities be silenced, forced into spaces where they feel unsafe, and denied the counseling and the support that they need. We have seen our classmates be sexually assaulted and harassed by other youth and adults in our schools and then be blamed for it. We have become numb to the loss of friends and classmates to gun violence, jails, drugs, and suicide. We have come to

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Watch: Bridge Builder Hali Smith Speaks At MLK50 Commemoration

Posted by knetzler on Apr 05, 2018

“Youth are being suspended and expelled at alarming rates. They are pushed into the streets, then into jail cells. It is time we dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, because as a system, we’re creating our own community’s worst nightmare.” From the main stage at the April 4 MLK50 Commemoration at the National Civil Rights Museum, Bridge Builders CHANGE Fellow Hali Smith, a member of the Educational Justice cohort, spoke on the youth-led movement for restorative justice in schools.

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Representing The Future Is Now: As Seen Through Our Black And Brown Youth

Posted by knetzler on Mar 28, 2018

by Jeremiah Chapman | March 26, 2018  Now, more than ever, we must encourage youth to step into leadership. This is the way to cultivate power in our communities that need their voices heard. I had the opportunity to attend the Youth Action Summit (YAS18) in Memphis, Tennessee, hosted by BRIDGES, an organization that supports students in opportunities to find their voice. This “unconference” brought together a group of vibrant high schoolers ready to expand their networks, building bridges between themselves to create social progress. In the wake of Parkland and the powerful March for our Lives this weekend, we have seen the movement when students come together and get national attention for demanding

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