Learning First Alliance

Strengthening public schools for every child

Building Bridges for Student Success

Gloria Bourdon, Genesee Intermediate School District, Michigan

Story posted Jaunary, 2008

Bridges.JPG Results:
• More than 90% of parents whose children attend this program report that their children do better in school and learn new things because of the program

Students in Genesee County, Michigan have no excuse to be "home alone" after school. A countywide afterschool initiative called Bridges to the Future enrolls more than 17,000 youngsters in safe, organized activities that are designed to support in-school learning - with a healthy emphasis on kid-centered fun.

Genesee County, home to the city of Flint, has seen its share of tough times in recent years, due to a declining economy, increasing poverty, and rising levels of violence and crime. Bridges to the Future is providing the county's students with the attention and the caring they need to rise above these trends and see the way to success.

"Bridges to the Future is a testament to our community's ability to work together and provide enriching and quality afterschool programming for the very students and families who have been impacted most by the declining economy," said Ron Butler, United Way of Genesee County executive director, in an article by Michigan's Center for Educational Networking.

Bridges to the Future is available at no cost to all students in Genesee County schools, from kindergarten through ninth grade. The program is an innovative partnership between United Way of Genesee County, the Genesee Intermediate School District, and the county's 21 public school districts. Other community partners include Big Brothers Big Sisters, Flint's Longway Planetarium and many more. Funding for the program comes from a range of private, foundation and government dollars.

Using an "adaptive youth development model," the afterschool program reinforces the fundamentals learned during the school day by providing fun and creative learning opportunities.

Among the keys to the success of Bridges to the Future: a determination to tailor learning opportunities to the interests of students. (Bridges students made sushi during a recent "Taste of the World" study program at Anderson Elementary in Flint.) Students can choose from more than 250 activities in areas from literacy development to music, community service, fitness and more. And, a Youth Advisory Council (YAC) at each Bridges to the Future site ensures that student input helps guide the program's design and offerings.

According to a recent third-party evaluation, more than 90 percent of parents whose children attend Bridges to the Future report that their children do better in school and learn new things as a result of the program. Bridges to the Future has received a number of accolades and awards; it was named the nation's most outstanding afterschool program by the National Community Education Association in 2003.

Further details about this story can be found in our sources:
Alex Nikoloff, for Michigan Department of Education Leading Change, "Genesee County Offers Bridges to the Future", Fall 2004

Bridges to the Future

For additional information, please contact:
Gloria Bourdon
Director of Health, Safety and Nutrition Services
Genesee Intermediate School District
Flint, Michigan
Phone - (810)591-4447
Fax - (810)591-4940
Email - gbourdon@geneseeisd.org

Photo courtesy of the Bridges to the Future