2020 marks the 50th Anniversary for The Bridge for Youth. Founded in 1970 by Sister Rita Steinhagen and Sister Marlene Barghini from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, The Bridge was initially started as a short-term shelter for homeless and runaway girls, but over time has expanded to become a national model for programs for homeless and runaway youth.
“The Bridge for Youth is grateful for 50 years of support and commitment from the community. With over 6,000 youth homeless every night in Minnesota, the need for our services remains critical. The Bridge is committed to serving homeless youth and their families for as long into the future as we are needed.” – Karla Dross, The Bridge for Youth, Interim Executive Director
Open 24 hours a day, The Bridge for Youth is a safe place for youth with no one to turn to and nowhere to go and is the only direct-access shelter for youth ages 10 – 17 in the Twin Cities. At the core of all our programming is preventing and ending youth homelessness. The youth we serve have experienced significant disparities in securing their basic needs, from shelter and safety to health care and educational opportunity. Last year, 28% of youth seeking shelter at The Bridge had been hospitalized for mental health issues, 26% had inflicted self-harm, and 19% had attempted suicide. Over 75% of those served by The Bridge were youth of color.
Monthly throughout 2020, The Bridge will feature “Faces of 50” honoring some of the thousands of individuals who have been impacted by The Bridge and whose contributions have supported and furthered our work with homeless and runaway youth. More information on “Faces of 50” can be found on The Bridge’s website at www.bridgeforyouth.org.
Over the decades, The Bridge has maintained a commitment to working with homeless and runaway youth. Programming has and will continue to evolve to meet the unique needs of homeless youth. Current programs include:
- Youth Response Center: Available 24/7/365 provides immediate support to de-escalate crisis and connect youth and families with support. The Bridge also hosts YSNMN, a mobile app connecting youth with available shelter and resources in real time.
- Resilience House: The Emergency Shelter is open 24/7/365 for youth ages 10 – 17. Focused on family reunification whenever safe and possible, the Emergency Shelter provides temporary shelter, meals, access to healthcare, and case management.
- Marlene’s Place: The first and only site-based transitional housing and case management program in Hennepin County for homeless, pregnant/parenting teens (ages 16-20) and their children (ages 0-3).
- Rita’s House: An intentional living community, that provides affordable rental housing, and independent living skills case management for youth ages 18-21.
- Outreach and Support: Connects with youth in need on the streets and in the community.
- Weekly Support Groups: Weekly support groups that support youth in building community and staying on track with their goals. Groups include crime victims, LGBTA+, work readiness, and more.
- Work Ambassador: Youth have the opportunity to learn skills on the job, building work experience.
- Juvenile Diversion: Shelter and long-term housing for first-time offenders and corrections involved youth.