Since its inception in 2012, A Bridge for Kids has now awarded over 250 sponsorships to low income, high achieving students across San Diego. The original business plan was to identify promising low-income teens and connect them with a sponsor who would donate $1,000-$2,000 to assist these teens to purchase such basic educational needs as a laptop and printer so the teen could do homework at home. But their dream quickly expanded as the sponsored teens’ requests revealed a far more compelling story: requests became anything from replacing the only pair of sneakers with no soles to purchasing a plane ticket to Boston for a young man who had been invited to a MIT summer program, but didn’t have plane fare. And so, the program grew.
Now A Bridge for Kids offers teens accepted into the program not only the opportunity to purchase “stuff” teens need to navigate high school, but free tutoring, free SAT/ACT prep, and organized visits to see their first college campuses.
Almost 60% of the children enrolled in the San Diego school system qualify for the federal free and subsidized meal program. Approximately 75% of those kids are members of a minority community. Often these kids are the first generation to learn in English. Their parents may work long hours to support their family, but they have no path to help their academically gifted children find a way to college. A child’s school advisor may be expected to help, but that advisor is advising anywhere from three hundred to five hundred teens.
High achieving low-income teens exist within this discouraging statistic, but their gift need not be buried there. Families, schools, community centers may recognize their academic potential, but lack the tools to guide them to the educational opportunities they have earned. A referral to A Bridge for Kids can alter a teen’s life course from aspiration for community college to becoming a freshman at a University that is a great fit for that individual . That is the difference between being a bright ambitious kid with virtually no resources, and being that same teen with tools every high school student needs to strive for a great college.
In addition to finding sponsors to help provide the things teens need to succeed in school A Bridge for Kids offers teens the opportunity to tour colleges in both Southern and Northern California and, for teens with exceptional high school records, beyond…the Ivy schools. Since almost all of these teens have never traveled outside of our home state, the college campus tours are a stunning revelation. Seventy percent of the teens who went on the college tours from 2014 and 2017 matriculated to a college they visited on their tour. These schools included Stanford, Brown, UCLA, George Washington, Boston College, Princeton and many more.
Helping poor kids realize their dream and achieve in life is the American dream. That is the also the A Bridge for Kids’ dream for these teens, and every day is a new opportunity.