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Shelter and Services Now in Palm of (Homeless) Youths’ Hands

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YSN Mobile PhotoFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 16, 2015

Shelter and Services Now in Palm of (Homeless) Youths’ Hands

Youth Services Network Launches, Web Application that Connects

Homeless Youth to Shelter Beds and Critical Services

This is a dilemma faced by many Twin Cities youth experiencing homelessness every day — a youth does not have a stable place to call home and is searching for a safe bed. The youth calls shelter after shelter to no avail. They’re all full. The next day is the same: call after call, using up precious phone minutes.

But what if there was an easier way to connect these homeless youth to the vital resources they need, like shelter, outreach workers, drop-in resource centers and food? What if homeless youth could call an outreach worker directly or view shelter bed availability in real-time?

Enter The Youth Services Network (YSN), a collaboration of 12 nonprofit organizations supporting homeless youth in the Twin Cities, has developed a web-based application to simplify how homeless youth and their advocates search for shelter beds and other supports. shows all the youth-specific shelters in the Twin Cities – where beds are available, how to call the shelter and the bus route to take to get to the shelter via geo-location functionality. Youth may sign up to receive text or email notification when a bed becomes available, saving them from having to make the same repeated queries.

In addition to shelter bed availability, the following information is available through

 Locations and hours of drop-in centers where youth may connect with resources and supports.

 Access to the street and school outreach workers in each county by just clicking on the phone number provided for the workers on call at that time.

 Location and hours of other critical services, including teen clinics and youth food shelves.

“Quick access to support is everything for homeless youth,” according to Deborah Loon, executive director at Avenues for Homeless Youth. “The harsh reality for youth on the streets is that they will be

approached within 48 hours by someone seeking to exploit them. The YSN web application fills a big void in our network. It uses youth-friendly applications to give them much faster access to life-saving supports.”

Daniel Pfarr, executive director of The Bridge for Youth, added that the site is designed to help the broader community better support youth. “We expect staff and volunteers throughout the community to use to connect homeless youth with information and services,” said Pfarr. “Everyone supporting these young people now will have critical information at their fingertips through their mobile devices and computers. This includes outreach workers, drop-in center workers, librarians, school counselors and more. Anybody looking to help a young person get connected to supports will be able to visit the site.”

The site will provide data YSN and policymakers need to gauge the size of the homeless youth problem and make decisions about where to expand services. As this application was built, YSN wanted the ability to track null searches (no beds) to keep count of youth turned away. These statistics will help the organizations better support the population of youth experience housing instability.

YSNMN.ORG is a project of the Youth Services Network (YSN) whose members include: Ain Dah Yung Center, Avenues for Homeless Youth, The Bridge for Youth, Catholic Charities Hope Street, Face to Face, Hope 4 Youth, Lutheran Social Services, Oasis for Youth, Salvation Army Booth Brown House, The Streetworks Collaborative, Teens Alone, YMCA Youth Intervention Services and YouthLink.

Development of has been funded by a grant from Target. Additional funding is sought to support ongoing IT maintenance. The app can be found at Apple or Google Play stores for free download. For more information, visit


Daniel Pfarr, The Bridge for Youth,, 612-230-6659 (office) or 763-232-2253 (mobile).

Deborah Loon, Avenues for Homeless Youth,, 612-844-2002 (office) or 612-801-1935 (mobile).


Cyberscam Disables Crisis Line – Again

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April 16, 2015– For the third time since 2013, phone scammers have jammed The Bridge for Youth’s crisis telephone line.  Crisis calls are being re-routed to the agency’s business line until further notice.

Anyone in crisis should call  (612) 230-6601.  Parents, caregivers, and service providers needing to reach youth at The Bridge should dial this same number.

The Bridge has notified the Attorney General’s office and Homeland Security in addition to other government agencies.  Officials state that nothing can be done to prevent this disruption.  “We just need to wait until the scammers stop dialing our crisis line over and over again,” said Executive Director Dan Pfarr.

“Our crisis line saves lives,” added Pfarr.  “Disrupting it can cause irreparable damage to young people and their families.”

The crisis hotline receives over 3000 calls annually from youth on the street in need of shelter, or experiencing a mental health crisis or having suicidal thoughts.  Overwhelmed parents call worried that they might lash out physically at their teen.

In Fall, 2015 The Bridge will add a texting platform to its crisis Emergency Services center.  Texting operates on a service separate the phone line making it less likely to be hacked.


Medica Foundation Funds Therapist at The Bridge

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN — February 2, 2015

The Medica Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to The Bridge for Youth to support the agency’s Clinical Services Program for sexually exploited youth.

This first-time grant to The Bridge funds a full time therapist position to work with this target population of children ages 10-17.  Keesha Greene, a licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist with over fifteen years experience working with at-risk youth and populations of color, has accepted the position.   As  a full-time therapist, Ms. Greene will provide needed case management and counseling services.

“We appreciate this important support from the Medica Foundation,” said Clinical Services and Sexually Exploited Youth Program Manager Denise Williams.

“This funding greatly expands our capacity to identify and intervene with the youth who are at risk for or engaged in commercial sexual exploitation.” said Williams.   In the past 10 months, The Bridge has identified and provided service to 85 children in this category.

“It is vital that we build and maintain intentional relationships with these disconnected youth,” said Williams.  She noted that many Bridge for Youth  clients are 14 or 15 years old.  “It is not too late to alter their paths toward healthier lifestyles.”

The Bridge for Youth was founded in 1970 as one of the nation’s first shelters exclusively for youth.  The agency opened in response to community concern about the increasing number of girls on the street in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood who were vulnerable to prostitution.   Today, The Bridge for Youth serves approximately 1000 at-risk youth  in its Minneapolis location.  24-hour services include a crisis hotline, emergency and long term youth shelter, and extensive counseling services.




Dan Rather reports on The Bridge for Youth

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"The Ides Of March" New York Premiere - Arrivals

Dan Rather chronicles failed international adoptions across the United States.

In his two hour documentary, Unwanted in America, the Shameful Side of International Adoption, Dan Rather explores what happens when international adoptions fail.  And, when they do fail, what happens to unwanted to unwanted children?  Some get placed with new families, others are abandoned and become homeless.


Touring Ethiopia, Mexico, and the United States chronicling the stories of several families, the team from Dan Rather Reports landed at The Bridge for Youth in Minneapolis.  There they followed the story of a young man, adopted from India, who became homeless when family conflict could not be resolved.


Dan Rather Reports: Unwanted in America, The Shameful Side of International Adoption, can be seen on AXS TV on Friday, December 5th – Sunday, December 7th.  Local cable channel listings and transcripts of the program available for download.  Click here.

Congressman Ellison Drops in for a Visit

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How old is Congressman Keith Ellison? Ask teens at The Bridge for Youth.

After learning that the Congressman would be touring the Transitions Program at The Bridge, teens in the program did some research. They learned that Ellison had celebrated his 51st birthday the day before. 

So, they did what any good host or hostess would do.  They baked him a cake.

When the 5th Congressional leader arrived, he was greeted by a group of 16 and 17 year olds, singing “Happy Birthday” and presenting him with a chocolate-frosted cake, topped with an American flag. 

After touring The Transitions Program, a recent recipient of a 5-year Federal Grant totaling almost $1 million, Representative Ellison joined the teens for a discussion.    

“Never let your life circumstances dictate your future,” advised Minnesota’s 5th District Congressional leader. “There are 7 billion people on this earth and every one is unique, with a unique gift. Find out what yours is.” 

Ellison did more than talk.  He was a keen listener, probing each youth about their hopes and dreams for the future.  He encouraged teens to be active citizens, stay in school, and explore financial aid opportunities to attend college. 

Keith YTCP

At The Bridge for Youth, Congressman Ellison reviews a prototype of a new mobile app designed to help homeless youth.

The new technology will improve how youth in crisis are connected with services. 

The launch for both services is targeted for early 2015. 


Chemical Health Support Group for Teens

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CHEERS, The Bridge for Youth’s chemical health support group for teens now takes place every Monday from 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. at The Bridge for Youth.

The group is open to any youth ages 13-17.

Facilitated by Bobby Frost, a chemical health  counselor with over 30 years experience in the field, the group offers a safe, confidential place to talk about chemical health, drug and alcohol use, family substance abuse, and related issues.

Teens are encouraged to make their own decisions and learn from others in the group.

Questions?  Call 612-377-8800 and ask to speak to the Counseling Services Team.


LGBT Teen Support Group featured in Lavender Magazine

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Kristan in Safe Space 2014

Kristan Clow facilitates a weekly GLBT support group.
Photo by Brett Dorian Artistry Studios.

The Bridge for Youth’s LGBT teen support group, “So What if I Am?” is featured in this month’s Lavender Magazine in the 2014 Pride Edition.

Read the article here.

So What if I Am?, started in the 1990s, is the longest, continous running support group for LGBT teens in the Twin Cities metro area.  The group meets every Tuesday at The Bridge for Youth.  Any GLBT teen is welcome.  The group’s structure includes a drop-in and social time from 4:30-5:00 p.m. and a facilitated group, led by Outreach Manager Kristan Clow, from 5:00 – 6:3o p.m.

“There aren’t a lot of safe, gathering places for LGBT teens in the Twin Cities or in Minnesota,” said So What If I Am? group facilitator Kristan Clow.  “This group is a place where teens can meet other teens like them, talk about issues, be open, make new friends, and find support”.

The group draws from all over the Twin Cities Metro area.  Parents drop teens off and other teens arrive on their own.  Participants are middle school and high school age youth between the ages of 13 and 17.

The Bridge for Youth, located at 1111 West 22nd Street in Minneapolis, helps youth in crisis.  Services include a 24-hour crisis hotline for teens and their families,  an emergency shelter for youth 10-17, on-site long term housing for 16 and 17 year olds, and free counseling.  All services are free and confidential.

For information about So What if I Am? contact Kristan.

For information about programs and services at The Bridge for Youth, call (612) 377-8800.


Health and Human Services awards nearly $1 million to Transitions program

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – (April 7, 2014)

The Bridge for Youth, a Minneapolis-based non-profit serving runaway, homeless, and abandoned youth, is pleased to announce its Transitions program has been awarded a five-year $930,000 grant by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

“This is a huge win for the youth in our community and it allows The Bridge to continue to positively impact the lives of youth and families in crisis,” said Dan Pfarr, Executive Director at The Bridge for Youth.

The five-year grant provides $186,000 each year for up to five years for the program, which provides shelter for up to 18 months, counseling and case management, life skills education and support for youth ages 16 and 17 who are unable or not ready to return home due to family conflict, homelessness, abandonment, or other circumstances.

“Extended-stay shelter and services have been part of our programming  since 1997,” continued Pfarr. “However, in 2013, we saw a change in societal needs and re-engineered Transitions to better meet the needs of our youth. We believe this grant award signals a vote of confidence in The Bridge’s new Transitions program model.”

The Bridge for Youth is one of 24 non-profits across the country to receive this funding from the Health and Human Services department.

About The Bridge for Youth

The Bridge for Youth, a 43-year old organization, serves homeless, runaway, and abandoned youth. Core services include a 24-hour crisis hotline for youth and families and 24-hour emergency and extended-stay shelter for youth ages 10-17.  The newly expanded Counseling Services Program provides free walk-in and by-appointment counseling and support groups for kids, parents, and families.

WCCO Reports on Crisis Line Shut Down at The Bridge

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Due to a phone scam, The Bridge for Youth’s regular crisis line phone number 612-377-8800 is not operable today.

Youth or parents in need of assistances should call The Bridge for Youth’s business line:   612- 230-6601.  Counselors will answer this phone to assist with any crisis.

WCCO News reported how the phone scam and extortion unfolded at The Bridge.

Read WCCOs News Report here.  The story introduces a new term to describe this type of phone scam, TDOS (telephony denial of service).