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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!

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

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BY: Rina Moss      09/03/19

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BY: Guest Blogger      08/23/19

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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

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BY: Theresa Carr      06/03/19

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BY: Rina Moss      11/13/18

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BY: Erin Hegarty      05/26/20

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BY: Guest Blogger      05/23/19

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

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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

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

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BY: Erin Hegarty      05/22/20

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New issue brief: Afterschool fostering protective factors

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BY: Guest Blogger      06/26/18

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BY: Guest Blogger      06/25/18

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

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BY: Erin Hegarty      12/19/19

Afterschool turns the peak time for crime into a time of opportunity for young people

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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

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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

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BY: Marisa Paipongna      11/26/18

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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: Guest Blogger      05/26/20

Recommendations from BellXcell to combat negative effects of prolonged school closures

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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

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      04/20/20

Afterschool turns the peak time for crime into a time of opportunity for young people

For close to 20 years, we at the Afterschool Alliance have been dedicated to the cause of expanding afterschool opportunities because we know the life changing impact programs can have on children, on families, and on communities.  Today, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released a new report that...

BY: Jodi Grant      10/16/19

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Adapted from our November 2018 issue brief Promoting Civic Engagement Through Afterschool, developed in partnership with the Asia Society Center for Global Education. Civic engagement starts with our nation’s young people. The afterschool field is an essential partner in ensuring...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      08/16/19

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By Sam Piha, founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development who are serious about improving the lives of young people. Milbrey McLaughlin has been a leading...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/25/18