We believe in real jobs, real wages, and real-world experience. Our formula for success in transforming the lives of young adults with disabilities through the power of a job is rooted in a three-part approach:
- Focus on abilities, not disabilities.
We focus on the potential of each young adult we serve. Bridges brings together employers who need qualified workers and youth who struggle to connect to jobs.
- Understand the needs of business.
We understand how businesses operate. We save employers money in recruiting, training, onboarding, and retaining workers. We screen candidates up front and provide on-the-job support after hiring.
- Provide a long-term commitment.
We travel to the schools and neighborhoods where youth spend their time. We earn the trust of parents, teachers, and employers because we commit to finding jobs for youth who are serious about working. Yet we do not relegate youth to unpaid internships, summer or subsidized jobs. We help youth compete for real jobs with real wages that members of the general public want—jobs that youth need sooner rather than later to buy necessities for school and family.
Through the power of a job
In 12 major U.S. cities, we work to connect young adults between the ages of 17–24 to jobs that pave the way for a lifetime of workforce attachment.
Our Bridges staff function as instructors, mentors, job coaches, and case managers who set high expectations and build self-esteem. Employment success is enhanced because of high frequency and high intensity interactions with youth and because we stick with them from enrollment to program exit.
We are experienced operators of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs and an approved provider of state vocational rehabilitation services in most cities.
Bridges youth learn how to overcome obstacles. They feel confident knowing that we will support them throughout the entire process: from preparing for work, looking for jobs, completing applications, interviewing for jobs, and getting through new hire paperwork. For example, our staff travel with youth on their way to work so they learn this skill in real-time. We help youth discover what ignites their passion for work and commit ourselves to every young adult we serve.
Our coaching promotes job retention and reinforces employer expectations. We follow and mentor youth for one year after hire, sometimes helping them progress to a second or third job that offers opportunity for new skills and career development.
We are proud that nearly all our participants surveyed (90%) report they are very happy with their Bridges experience.
Partnering with Schools
We maintain a regular presence at local high schools. Our Bridges staff members work with teachers to identify and recruit youth. Most youth enroll in their senior year. Once enrolled, we enlist parental support, bond with youth, and learn about their backgrounds, competencies, and aspirations. We then use an existing Bridges curriculum to fill in skills and knowledge gaps needed for finding, getting, and keeping jobs.
In some of our Bridges cities, we have helped school districts for 25-30 years in their efforts to transition youth from special education programs to the workforce. Bridges provides services and interventions required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Close to 5,000 small and large employers trust us to find, screen, and train their entry-level workers. Almost every employer surveyed (98%) expresses satisfaction with our program participants and most (92%) say they are likely to hire from us again. Hiring managers trust that our Bridges participants are ready and motivated to work. Most report that our participants outperform other applicants in interviewing and interpersonal skills.