High school is tough! Kids can be mean, there is homework, and your social calendar is quite difficult to manage. Some kids have it even harder – they are homeless. In a recent year, the Minneapolis, Minnesota Public Schools counted 5,500 homeless children in the district. Some of those kids are lucky to find a home with today’s organization.
Bridge for Youth is a 24-hour runaway and homeless youth program in a residential setting in the Minneapolis, Minnesota metropolitan region. Their mission is helping youth in crisis and their vision is to be the premier resource for youth and families in crisis. They ensure a continuum of care to provide shelter and support, to reunite families whenever possible, and when it is not, to build independent living skills in young people. The Bridge for Youth is a community leader in the development of approaches for youth and their families to resolve problems and develop healthier relationships.
The Bridge for Youth was founded by Sister Rita Steinhagen in 1970 as one of the first runaway youth shelters in the nation. Sister Rita was a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph Catholic order. She and her fellow sisters noticed that homeless youth were increasingly vulnerable to exploitation, prostitution, violence, and illness and felt the need to act.
Each year The Bridge serves over a thousand youth between the ages of 10 and 20 years old. The families are also helped when applicable. A continuum of services is offered, from street outreach to homeless youth, short-term emergency shelter, housing skills and career development, and transitional and permanent supportive housing. Their services are available free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If there is a young person in crisis or a parent of a young person in crisis they can call or come in and someone will be available for them.
The Bridge has some amazing results. Here are just a few of their impressive statistics:
- 70% of youth served in the reunification program were safely reunited with parents or extended family.
- 60% of youth participants in their transitional living program moved to stable living.
- 100% of youth in transitional living were working and/or going to school.
- 97% of youth in scattered site supportive housing retained their housing for six months.
The personal stories are also amazing. One of the many success stories is Valencia McMurray, a young woman who has been on her own since 10th grade. She spent time living with siblings until they were no longer able to pay rent. Then she did some couch hopping with friends until a school social worker found her a space at The Bridge. She spent some time in the emergency shelter and then in the transitional housing program. She was able to graduate high school and earn a four year scholarship to Augsburg College. You can read her full story here. There is also a video about six young adults who were impacted my homelessness.
If you live in the Minneapolis area, there are many volunteer opportunities available, including cleaning, yard work, and more. Volunteers are always needed to do a variety of things depending on their interests and skills. Groups and organizations are always welcome to hold donation drives or collections. Individuals can also help with cooking, mock interviews, and more. You can learn more about current volunteer needs at The Bridge on their website.
The Bridge also accepts cash and in-kind donations. You can find donation options as well as their current wish list on their website.
Learn more about The Bridge for Youth on their website, www.bridgeforyouth.org.