Our Education Program improves people’s lives, laying the foundation for sustainable development. We give children in rural areas access to education by constructing and repairing schools, youth centers, and libraries. We award scholarships and internships, making it possible for students to reach their educational goals. Our teen and preteen youth leadership program ensures positive youth development through workshops and seminars that focus on empowerment, self-esteem, and education.
Bridges to Community’s education strategies emphasize the construction of adequate physical infrastructure and the commitment to ensuring that students have adequate resources to encourage learning. In addition to the construction of classrooms, libraries, technical centers and other school buildings, Bridges operates a scholarship program for qualified students and provides internships for highly motivated students.
Schools and Classroom Buildings – In many of the communities where Bridges to Community works, children have to walk miles to overcrowded and unsafe school buildings every day. Bridges helps these communities by constructing schools, classroom buildings and libraries in the areas that most need them. In Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, Bridges has built 7 schools, 2 libraries, and 10 classroom buildings. Once built, these buildings are turned over to the Ministry of Education to staff and maintain, making education more accessible for thousands of schoolchildren. In 2012 Bridges to Community built a library for the community of Rosa Grande, where over 400 students go to study and access information and literature.
Scholarships- Our scholarship program currently helps 13 high school and 32 college or vocational students access the education they deserve. The scholarship award has a maximum of $1,000 for college, university or vocational school, and $500 for high school students. Each recipient must maintain a GPA of 80% or above, participate in meetings and workshops with Bridges staff and complete 40 hours of community service. This program offers promising young people from the communities we work with opportunities to develop their leadership skills and achieve their educational goals. The program leads students toward making life decisions and selecting careers that will lift them and their families out of poverty and make positive and lasting impacts on their communities. Students benefit from these funds in a number of ways: some use it to pay for rent to relocate to Managua, some for bus fees if they live close enough to travel, others for books or tuition. Many of these youth receive vocational training for jobs that are needed in their communities. Farm management, construction trades and eco-tourism are all areas USAID has identified as applicable and needed skills in the areas we work.
Youth Educational Center- In 2015, Bridges completed a Community Youth Center in Derrumbadero which includes a library, computer room, and classroom, in the Dominican Republic. It was constructed with 50,000 recycled plastic bottles, making it the largest bottle school in the Carribean. The youth center provides a safe learning and recreational environment for the 1,200 youth in an area that suffers from high rates of child labor, teen pregnancy and extreme poverty. In the short time that the center has been opened, the four youth leadership committees that Bridges formed among teens and pre-teens have grown tremendously, and continue to receive workshops on self-esteem, leadership, health and other topics. Three years ago, these youth spoke about simply wanting to stay alive, and now they are speaking of becoming doctors and lawyers, are taking on leadership roles in their communities and are spearheading projects with Bridges. During the next three years we plan to add a full time teacher, as well as a part-time computer instructor and a sports coach to boost community engagement. We expect the number of youth participating in this center to increase to 400.
Scholarship Student Highlight: Carlos
In 2016, Carlos Hernandez was admitted to the Bridges to Community Scholarship Program and began his first year of high school. He lives with his single mother and and siblings in Mojon, Jinotega and is the oldest of 7 children. Due to his large family size and single parent family, Carlos would not be in school right now if it weren’t for the scholarship and guidance he is receiving.
Derrumbadero Youth Center Hosts Youth Economic Development Workshop
“I’m really enjoying this course because it’s giving me a plan for after I finish high school,” reported Sebastian Montero from the community of Derrumbadero. “Now I know the steps to take to start my own business.”
Bridges Scholarship Program First Semester Successes
“I thank Bridges to Community for supporting us students with limited economic resources, because it is through this scholarship program that I have been able to continue my studies, and work toward my dream of becoming a professional,” says Jorvin Urbina.
Youth Committees Shine at New Youth Center
Since its inauguration, the new youth center in Derrumbadero has not had a quiet moment. There are classes all afternoon, and even on the weekends, explained Victor Carrasco, Bridges’ Community Coordinator in the DR. “Before, these teens would go to school and that was it. Now, they are motivated, they can visualize who they want to be, they have dreams and aspirations. We see that they are now concerned about their community and its future. It’s impressive.” says Victor.