This holiday season, help us build bridges to brighter futures for children and families experiencing homelessness.
Every family wants to enjoy the holiday season in the comfort and security of their own home, but for too many, this is impossible without Bridges to Independence. This season, our famliy shelter is full, and demand for our youth-centered emergency housing is at an all-time high!
The good news is that thanks to generous donors like you, this year Bridges has helped:
32 families transition from our family homeless shelter into stable, secure housing.
319 children navigate the trauma of homelessness through our youth development programs.
110 families receive emergency funds to help them pay their rent and remain housed.
100% of high school seniors at Bridges graduated on-time and entered higher ed and/or the workforce.
We need your help to meet increased demand and ensure that families have a place to call home - during the holidays and every day.
- $2,000 - A Home for the Holidays: Provides a lifeline of stability, providing emergency rent for a struggling family.
- $1,000 – Training and Transformation: Empowers parents to reclaim their independence with the gift of job training (critical to keeping a home of their own)
- $500 - Feeding Families: Ensures families share nourishing meals, creating lasting connections amidst the joy and warmth of the holiday season (no family should have to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table.)
- $250 - Afterschool Adventures: Enables one child to participate in afterschool youth development programming. (Breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty will ensure today's youth are not tomorrow’s homeless.)
- $100 - Supporting Skills and Studies: Supports GED and ESL course registration fees for a self-sufficient future for families. (Thus ensuring access to jobs and stability.)
- $50 - Everyday Essentials: Underwrites transportation costs to help families receive critical medical care and other services.
Bridges to Independence's Background and Programs
Since 1985, Bridges to Independence has helped over 16,000 homeless children and families in Arlington County, Virginia. What began as a small shelter, has grown into a multifaceted family and children services agency. Bridges empowers families to break cycles of poverty, most of whom live in historically underserved communities.
Often, the families of the children at Bridges are financially insecure with significant debt and bad credit. Families experiencing homelessness often are traumatized by the instability and stigma of homelessness. Nearly all the families at Bridges fall below the extremely low-income threshold and earn less than 30% of the area median income. Many are foreign-born and have limited English language skills, education, and work experience. Some have been impacted by war, eviction, and domestic violence, and all have experienced the chaos and trauma of homelessness. Over half the adults Bridges serves have serious chronic health problems that further complicate their efforts to move their families out of poverty. In Arlington County, 39% of the population are BIPOC, but BIPOC residents make up 96% of those living at or below the poverty line. 80% of the families served at Bridges are BIPOC.
One-third of school-aged children in Arlington County live in and around Green Valley where BIPOC families are disproportionally impacted by homelessness and cycles of poverty that repeat for generations. Half of Arlington residents living below the poverty line reside in Green Valley and the surrounding neighborhoods of South Arlington, where there is also a particularly high rate of single mothers with small children. Within Green Valley, one in four households have less than $35,000 annual income, the unemployment rate is double the national average, and one-third of working-age residents have a high school diploma or less.
Bridges empowers families to break cycles of poverty through its programs, which include:
- Sullivan House- Arlington County’s emergency family shelter, which has approximately 50 beds across 10 separate apartment units. It is a temporary solution for those with little or no resources. While there, families receive intensive case management – assessing their situation, providing Bridges program resources, or referring to other resources. The families are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, are welcomed with open arms, and receive whatever immediate needs they may have – food, diapers, personal supplies, basic kitchen items, gift cards and more – thanks to donations from the community. The length of stay generally is between 30-90 days, and while Bridges works with the families to move them into permanent solutions – a home of their own, with another family member or friend, or out of Arlington County where they may have other family connections.
- Rapid Rehousing Program- A rental assistance and housing placement support for families. Through case management in this program, Bridges provides a connection to additional resources for the families for financial, legal, mental health, and medical needs. Through partnerships with landlords in the community, Bridges helps families secure and maintain a lease in their own name, which assists them in establishing a foundation for good credit.
- Workforce Development Program- Bridges provides programming to move families from minimum wage to livable wage by helping them acquire additional certifications or further their education, such as supporting them in obtaining their GED or helping enroll them in ESL classes. The program also helps families get a better paying job through resume support, interviewing practice, sharing job leads, and job fair opportunities. One-on-one mentoring support is provided, and Bridges meets them where they are to tailor an action plan for them going forward. By becoming economically self-sufficient, this will enable families to sustain permanent housing and build longer-term financial security.
- The Bonder & Amanda Johnson Community Services Center- Located in Green Valley, this center serves as a walk-in referral and information resource center to community members in need of support. Case management services are provided if additional support is needed. Additionally, health screenings may be offered, as well as additional community classes, such as parenting, tenant rights, community events and more. This center is in the heart of Green Valley and is a cornerstone for community services to its residents.
- Youth Development Program- Bridges offers programming to any youth currently in shelter, the housing program, or to those who are “alumni” of either. This programing includes tutoring, mentoring, leadership and entrepreneurial skills, and evening activities such as crafts, cooking, music, swim lessons, and more. The program aides these youth in improving their academic skills, self-esteem, job readiness, health and well-being. The goal is to give the children the confidence, skills, and tools needed to pursue and complete post-secondary education or vocational training, providing them with a bridge to economic security.
Is this donation tax deductible?
YES! We are an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code: EIN 54-1368484.
What other ways can I support Bridges to Independence?
To learn more about making a Qualified Charitable Distribution from your IRA, donating appreciated stocks or mutual funds, supporting Bridges to Independence through your Donor Advised Fund, or planning to submit a corporate match, please reach out to [email protected].
We are always looking for volunteers to support our children in our youth program. Please email [email protected] to share your time availability and to learn more.
We also host virtual shelter tours every third Thursday of the month. This is a great way to meet Bridges staff and learn about our programs. Sign up for a virtual shelter tour here.
Bridges holds various events throughout the year. To see what events are coming up, please click here
How can I stay up to date with the impactful work happening at Bridges to Independence?
We'd love to keep you informed of our work. Sign up for our monthly newsletter here.
Can I follow Bridges to Independence on social media?
YES! Follow us @bridges2indep