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Program spotlight: ourBRIDGE for KIDS working with immigrant and refugee families amidst COVID-19

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Program spotlight: ourBRIDGE for KIDS working with immigrant and refugee families amidst COVID-19

Located in Charlotte, North Carolina, ourBRIDGE for KIDS (ourBRIDGE) is an afterschool program that works with immigrant and refugee students new to the United States. The program—whose three core pillars are academic support, trauma-informed care, and cultural pride—serves approximately 150 K-8 students daily who represent 22 different cultures, 100 percent of whom qualify for federal free or reduced price lunch, and more than 80 percent are English language learners.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and North Carolinas stay-at-home orders, ourBRIDGE jumped into action. Before the pandemic, parent engagement was a priority for the program and ourBRIDGE regularly checked in with their students and families, asking them what their concerns were, what their needs were, and how ourBRIDGE could help; they worked to involve families in every part of their programming, building trust and mutual respect. During the pandemic, ourBRIDGE took the same approach, reaching out to their families to see what they needed and figuring out how they could best help.

One example of ourBRIDGEs responsiveness to their familiesneeds was the program identifying that many of their families did not have a way to get to school sites that were serving grab-and-go meals. As a result, the program reached out the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district and was able to become a mobile feeding site. On the first day, ourBRIDGE picked up and delivered 80 meals to families. Today, the program picks up and delivers 1,500 breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals daily that they receive from local restaurants, many of which are immigrant owned. In total, the program has distributed more than 47,000 meals to immigrant and refugee families in Charlottes east side neighborhoods.

ourBRIDGE also continues to serve as a liaison between schools and families, checking in with students who teachers have noticed were missing online sessions and translating materials for parents from the schools. ourBRIDGE not only translates materials in Spanish, but provides translated materials in Arabic, Amharic, Burmese, Hindi, Farsi, French, Nepali, and Swahili to make sure that all families have access to information and resources available to them. 

In addition to support with food security and education, ourBRIDGE remains an advocate for their families, jumping in to help where needed. Over the course of the pandemic, ourBRIDGE has assisted a family member to navigate the unemployment benefit system, informed their families of their rights as tenants and the current freeze on evictions in North Carolina, and regularly translated and disseminated COVID-19 related information for families. 

A cultural sensitive lens is applied to all aspects of the programs work. For example, during its meal distribution, ourBRIDGE made a conscientious effort to serve iftars—traditional meals served during Ramadan. ourBRIDGE also has prioritized hiring a staff that is reflective of the community it serves, recruiting a diverse board and staff from the community.

Although the program has seen inequities in their immigrant and refugee communities magnified during the pandemic, founder and executive director of ourBRIDGE, Sil Ganzo, shares that this time has also showed the resilience, humility, and generosity of the Charlotte community. It has been refreshing and reassuring to see the support that we have received from the community. Charlotte has shown up for us and its a bright spot in this challenging time to see how welcoming, generous, and kind the community has been.”

To learn more about ourBRIDGE and how you can help, visit their website at: https://www.joinourbridge.org/

Interested in more information like this? Visit our COVID-19 resource pages and join the online learning community!

Help us tell the story of afterschool AND win a chance at a cash prize

We need your help to keep the drumbeat going on the ways in which COVID-19 is impacting afterschool and summer programs and the young people and families who rely on them. By completing this short survey, which should take no more than 10-15 minutes of your time, you are helping to tell your...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      08/20/20

Survey: 70% of programs are still serving kids during COVID

For the past four months, I have heard stories from the field about the hardships afterschool program staff are seeing in their community and the creative ways they have adapted their programming to support the children and families they serve. From adjusting operations to serve children of...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      08/04/20

New issue brief: How afterschool is supporting learning and recovery during COVID-19

During a media briefing last week, “The School Reopening Dilemma: New Survey Sheds Light on the Role Out-of-School-Time Programs Can Play in Educating Students and Supporting Families This Fall,” it was revealed that 70 percent of afterschool program providers reported serving students...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/31/20

5 regional differences when looking at the impact of COVID-19 on afterschool

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/30/20

4 big questions from the Advancing Equity through Summer and School Year Partnerships webinar

Earlier this month, the Forum for Youth Investment hosted a webinar as part of their series on the new research from the National Academies of Sciences, “Shaping Summertime Experiences: Opportunities to Promote Healthy Development and Well-Being for Children and Youth”, made possible by...

BY: Bella DiMarco      07/10/20

Afterschool will be critical to recovery—tell us what your community needs!

COVID-19 has impacted afterschool and summer programs across the country, with many programs having to switch to virtual programming or closing down entirely. Many young people and their families rely on these programs every day for a variety of supports, including meals, social and emotional...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      06/22/20

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By Deb Moroney and Jessy Newman, American Institutes for Research (AIR). As we look ahead to another month of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, education, afterschool, summer, and other community-based organizations are working to address the challenges created by unexpected...

BY: Guest Blogger      05/26/20

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BY: Bella DiMarco      05/20/20

Program spotlight: ourBRIDGE for KIDS working with immigrant and refugee families amidst COVID-19

Located in Charlotte, North Carolina, ourBRIDGE for KIDS (ourBRIDGE) is an afterschool program that works with immigrant and refugee students new to the United States. The program—whose three core pillars are academic support, trauma-informed care, and cultural pride—serves...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      05/15/20

While collaboration between youth-serving organizations continues, gaps in service still exist

In a Forum for Youth Investment webinar, Shaping Summertime Experiences: Aligning Practice to Recommendations Recap and Resources, panelists Dr. Deborah Moroney, managing director at American Institutes for Research, and Chris Smith, president and executive director of Boston After School &...

BY: Bella DiMarco      05/14/20

Council for a Strong America report depicts state-level campaign to combat childhood obesity

This report was released by Mission: Readiness, one of the five organizations that comprise Council for a Strong America, which aims to strengthen national security by ensuring kids stay in school, stay fit, and stay out of trouble. A recent Council for a Strong America (CSA) Mission:...

BY: Bella DiMarco      08/06/20

Survey: 70% of programs are still serving kids during COVID

For the past four months, I have heard stories from the field about the hardships afterschool program staff are seeing in their community and the creative ways they have adapted their programming to support the children and families they serve. From adjusting operations to serve children of...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      08/04/20

New issue brief: How afterschool is supporting learning and recovery during COVID-19

During a media briefing last week, “The School Reopening Dilemma: New Survey Sheds Light on the Role Out-of-School-Time Programs Can Play in Educating Students and Supporting Families This Fall,” it was revealed that 70 percent of afterschool program providers reported serving students...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/31/20

More children are getting afterschool meals that boost their health and learning

By Clarissa Hayes. Originally published on October 25,2019 as a blog on FRAC Chat, the blog of the Food Research & Action Center.  National participation in the Afterschool Nutrition Programs — which are key to closing the hunger gap that exists afterschool for many children...

BY: Guest Blogger      11/01/19

New issue brief: Afterschool fostering protective factors

In Colorado, the Montrose Recreation District’s Summer Enrichment Program creates a welcoming environment to help students feel safe to share their feelings. At Jóvenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo, Inc. (JPRR), also known as Puerto Rico Youth at Risk (PRYR), one-on-one...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/24/19

New report: Community programs important in preventing childhood obesity

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BY: Marisa Paipongna      11/26/18

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By Clarissa Hayes, child nutrition policy analyst at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). Research shows that afterschool programs provide measurable benefits to students academically, socially, and behaviorally, and serve as an important resource for families and communities. In addition...

BY: Guest Blogger      10/12/18

New issue brief: A big-picture approach to wellness

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/07/18

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BY: Erin Hegarty      06/26/20

New issue brief: Afterschool and the juvenile justice system

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BY: Erin Hegarty      05/26/20

Recommendations from BellXcell to combat negative effects of prolonged school closures

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BY: Bella DiMarco      05/20/20

What resources do staff need to support youth mental health and wellness?

By Selena Levy, director of Training at California School-Age Consortium (CalSAC).  May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting the ways afterschool programs support children and young people as they face challenges including trauma, ACEs, substance use, and beyond....

BY: Guest Blogger      05/23/19

5 steps to effectively implement SEL initiatives in your community

Awareness of the importance of social and emotional learning is beginning to be reflected in policy measures. Practitioners and policymakers alike are continually recognizing that a whole-child approach is necessary for children to be well-positioned to succeed in their academic, personal, and...

BY: Erin Hegarty      02/08/19

Afterschool, community partners featured in Aspen Institute’s "Nation At Hope" report

Today’s youth must navigate a complex, economically competitive, and globally connected world. In efforts to help young people thrive, educators, parents, and leaders have historically focused on academic improvement as the key target for future success. But that’s not the whole...

BY: Dan Gilbert      01/15/19

New issue brief: A big-picture approach to wellness

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/07/18

Data on child well-being: How does the nation measure up?

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BY: Rina Moss      09/03/19

To elevate equity, diversity, and inclusion, go deeper into your quality standards

By Femi Vance, researcher at American Institutes for Research, Board President for the California School-Age Consortium, Field Consultant for the National Summer Learning Association, and editor of Changemakers! Equity and Access in Out-of-School Time Programs. Implementing high-quality...

BY: Guest Blogger      08/23/19

Evaluating afterschool: The evaluation basics, part III

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the tenth installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which answers some of the common questions asked about program evaluation and highlights program evaluation best practices. Be sure to take a look at earlier posts of the...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/19/19

Evaluating afterschool: The evaluation basics, part I

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the eighth installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which answers some of the common questions asked about program evaluation and highlights program evaluation best practices. Be sure to take a look at earlier posts of...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/01/19

New report on building data-driven afterschool systems within cities

A data-centric approach has potential to generate actionable information at the systematic and programmatic levels and ultimately to improve the quality and access to afterschool. The Wallace Foundation commissioned a study in partnership with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and the Gamse...

BY: Theresa Carr      06/03/19

Data sharing with afterschool leads to student success

With more than 10 million children participating in afterschool programming, the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. hold crucial potential for academic, social, and emotional development that extends well beyond the school day. So how can we ensure that more students have access to high quality afterschool...

BY: Rina Moss      11/13/18

Closing the Childhood Equity Gap: New report provides a data-driven look into the prioritization of children at the state and local levels

A new report released by Save the Children provides the first-ever ranking of counties in the United States where children are most and least prioritized. The report, aptly entitled, “The Land of Inopportunity: Closing the Childhood Equity Gap for America’s Kids,” shows that where...

BY: Erin Hegarty      06/26/20

New issue brief: Afterschool and the juvenile justice system

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BY: Erin Hegarty      05/26/20

Engaging the Arts Across the Juvenile Justice System: New report outlines opportunities for engagement

Arts education programs can play a significant role in preventing youth from getting involved with the juvenile justice system and supporting the mental wellbeing and successful transition out of the system for those already involved, according to a new report released by the Education Commission...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/22/20

The Power of Mentorship: Adult Friends for Youth makes a difference in redirecting youths’ lives

This blog post was adapted from a program highlight featured in Fight Crime, Invest in Kids’ report, “From Risk to Opportunity: Afterschool Programs Keep Kids Safe.” Read the full report here. This is the first in a series of blog posts that will highlight the different ways that...

BY: Erin Hegarty      12/19/19

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BY: Jodi Grant      10/16/19

New issue brief: Afterschool fostering protective factors

In Colorado, the Montrose Recreation District’s Summer Enrichment Program creates a welcoming environment to help students feel safe to share their feelings. At Jóvenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo, Inc. (JPRR), also known as Puerto Rico Youth at Risk (PRYR), one-on-one...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/24/19

Closing the Childhood Equity Gap: New report provides a data-driven look into the prioritization of children at the state and local levels

A new report released by Save the Children provides the first-ever ranking of counties in the United States where children are most and least prioritized. The report, aptly entitled, “The Land of Inopportunity: Closing the Childhood Equity Gap for America’s Kids,” shows that where...

BY: Erin Hegarty      06/26/20

New issue brief: Afterschool and the juvenile justice system

COVID-19 has created a number of challenges for millions of families and exacerbated existing inequities, leaving certain groups more vulnerable than others to the harmful effects of the pandemic. This week, we are turning our attention toward celebrating the ways that afterschool programs across...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/26/20

Recommendations from BellXcell to combat negative effects of prolonged school closures

BellXcell and the Sperling Center for Research and Innovation (SCRI) recently released a brief that discusses the impact of COVID-19 on learning gaps for students. Due to these unprecedented school closures, millions of students could be left without schooling for upwards of five to six months,...

BY: Bella DiMarco      05/20/20

New issue brief: Afterschool fostering protective factors

In Colorado, the Montrose Recreation District’s Summer Enrichment Program creates a welcoming environment to help students feel safe to share their feelings. At Jóvenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo, Inc. (JPRR), also known as Puerto Rico Youth at Risk (PRYR), one-on-one...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/24/19

What resources do staff need to support youth mental health and wellness?

By Selena Levy, director of Training at California School-Age Consortium (CalSAC).  May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting the ways afterschool programs support children and young people as they face challenges including trauma, ACEs, substance use, and beyond....

BY: Guest Blogger      05/23/19

4 big questions from the Advancing Equity through Summer and School Year Partnerships webinar

Earlier this month, the Forum for Youth Investment hosted a webinar as part of their series on the new research from the National Academies of Sciences, “Shaping Summertime Experiences: Opportunities to Promote Healthy Development and Well-Being for Children and Youth”, made possible by...

BY: Bella DiMarco      07/10/20

Recognizing the role of afterschool and summer programs and systems in reopening and rebuilding

By Deb Moroney and Jessy Newman, American Institutes for Research (AIR). As we look ahead to another month of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, education, afterschool, summer, and other community-based organizations are working to address the challenges created by unexpected...

BY: Guest Blogger      05/26/20

Making the case for summer learning: A new report provides evidence and recommendations

A new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Wallace Foundation, takes a deep dive into the summer months, the opportunities they can provide for youth, and the best ways to connect with those youth who have...

BY: Erin Hegarty      12/02/19

Two new resources to kick-off your summer learning plans!

While the New Year has just begun and we are firmly in winter’s grasp, now is actually a great time to start planning for your summer programs. To assist in this process, the Wallace Foundation has released two brand new resources to help organize your thoughts and kick-off your first steps...

BY: Erin Hegarty      01/14/19