2022 Annual Report

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2022 Annual Report

Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Workforce

How Does Bridges Recruit Youth?

Across our 12 cities, Bridges maintains longstanding partnerships with some of our nation’s largest school districts. Bridges’ Youth Employment Specialists make weekly visits to high schools in these districts and work with educators to identify, recruit, and enroll students. Most are high school seniors who receive special education services.

In these schools, Youth Employment Specialists function as adjunct faculty and itinerant instructors, using classrooms and other meeting space to prepare students for job interviews, job offers, and ongoing employment that continues beyond their high school graduation.

Youth from 17 to 24 are eligible for Bridges, but the average age at enrollment is usually around 19. Youth no longer in high school can apply for services on our website or through vocational rehabilitation agencies and other community-based organizations. Out-of-school youth can work with Youth Employment Specialists at a local Bridges office, in a library, coffee shop, or other public space.

With the launch of our New York City program in 2019, we now work with the nation’s largest school district, where 200,000 students receive special education services. Our nation’s second- and third-largest school districts, Los Angeles Unified and Chicago Public Schools respectively, are among those districts whose Bridges partnerships have endured 30-plus years. These districts, combined with others in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Oakland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, have all been integral to our success in enrolling 26,000 youth since 1989.

Bridges from School to Work operates with a philosophy of positive youth development, an approach that focuses on youth assets instead of their deficits. Bridges, therefore, emphasizes what young adults with disabilities can do instead of what they cannot do.

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Few organizations are as effective as Bridges from School to Work when it comes to removing barriers to employment for young people with disabilities.

Robert A. Krause

CEO, Johnson Scholarship Foundation

The Johnson Scholarship Foundation’s giving priorities include education and employment programming for economically disadvantaged students, Indigenous communities, and students with disabilities. Visit Johnson Scholarship Foundation for more information.

Established by the Marriott Family

The descendants of J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott, the founders of Marriott International, established Bridges from School to Work (Bridges) in 1989 to improve employment outcomes for youth with disabilities. In 1990, Bridges began serving youth in Montgomery County, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC. From there the program expanded to serve some of our nation’s largest school districts across the cities of Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Los Angeles, New York City, Oakland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

In these 12 cities, Youth Employment Specialists now work each year with approximately 200 high schools to prepare youth with disabilities ages 17-24 for the competitive labor market, matching them to quality jobs with supportive employers that we believe will improve their career and earning prospects through their 20s and 30s.

Bridges’ personnel understand that for the program to succeed, they cannot concern themselves only with the needs of the young adults who enroll; they must also satisfy the needs that business and industry have for qualified workers. This employer-driven approach has been part of the program’s philosophy since its inception. Bridges brings together employers who need good workers with youth with disabilities having trouble connecting to jobs.

Researchers have demonstrated that the single most important factor in overcoming adversity is a long-term, nurturing relationship with a reliable, caring adult. In our Bridges program, the job title for that person is a Youth Employment Specialist.
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Bridges From School To Work has been a tremendous asset and collaborative partner with Fort Worth Independent School District Special Education and Transition Support Services for eight years. We are especially pleased with the “hands-on” approaches taken by Bridges staff members. The FWISD Special Education Department readily endorses Bridges From School To Work for working so effectively with students, parents, schools, and businesses.


Director | Special Education Department, FORT WORTH INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT

Bridges Participates in NextGen

Bridges is participating in a federally funded research study known as the NextGen Project. NextGen began during the 2021 academic year and will continue through 2024.

NextGen, or the Next Generation of Enhanced Employment Strategies Project, is a collaboration among several organizations. It is being led by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is also a partner on the project.

Mathematica, a research organization, will lead the study, which will be a randomized control trial (RCT), the gold standard for measuring program efficacy.

Ultimately, the NextGen RCT will be among only a few of its kind for young adults with disabilities as they leave high school and enter the workforce. The study will provide actionable information to policymakers about interventions for assisting individuals facing complex challenges as they find jobs, advance in the labor market, and improve their economic security.

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CARF Accreditation

Congratulations to our Chicago and Los Angeles Bridges offices for earning three-year CARF accreditation. CARF stands for Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and CARF International is an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services providers.
All Bridges personnel share a belief in the transformational power of a job for young adults with disabilities.

If you are a parent, Bridges is the best way to have a partner that shares your goals and dreams for your child thriving in a job that gives him purpose, dignity and real-world experience.

Shannon W.

Dallas-Fort Worth Parent