In response to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, Bridge Builders Foundation (BBF) has expanded its existing school and community-based program engagement to provide a new distance learning platform. The expanded program will target socially vulnerable racial and ethnic minority youth and communities and serve students who would otherwise be unable to access these resources.
The initial expansion of BBF’s school-based “Thriving Under The Influence” mentor program began via Zoom in
April 2020 and will expand to a fully operational program component in fall 2020. Led by Dr. Charles Bray, the
Bridge Builders program combines both mentoring and behavioral elements under a structured curriculum
calendar designed to augment and enhance distance and in-class learning provided by traditional k-12 schools.
The mentor program seeks to empower youth with values, attitudes, and strategies required to thrive in school, at
home, and in the community. The program focuses on strengthening self-awareness, expanding understandings of
environmental influences, and developing skills to work constructively and collectively with others, by combining
curriculum with outcomes measures to ensure participants receive optimal value from participation. Students
participate in weekly mentor sessions (60-90 minutes), and bi-monthly, incentive-based community enrichment
field trips. Program staffing is from a robust pool of African American and minority men, from varied professions,
who teach success roles, serve as role models, and provide mentoring.
During the pandemic’s stay at home mandates, BBF’s Saturday Science Academy (which usually provides
classroom instruction, supplemented by community field trips) launched Bi-weekly BBF STEM@Home
classroom sessions on Google Classroom and Google Hangouts. BBF plans to augment it’s existing in-person
sessions with monthly virtual sessions beginning in Spring 2021. As noted by Dr. Bray, “Our programs blend
character-related content with academic elements to generate behavioral outcomes, using an approach
incorporating both pedagogical and adult learning theories.”
All BBF programs are provided FREE OF CHARGE through strong corporate and foundation support, committed volunteers, and generous donations from many individuals.