Our Approach: We work to understand the needs and priorities of communities that invite us in, determine if Bridges is a good fit, and then execute specifically-tailored programming for that community. Our approach is complete in that it includes community assessment, programming, and followup.
Bridges works by invitation only because projects that are created externally and then pushed onto communities without their ownership or participation don’t have the lasting desired impact. This is usually due to a mismatched understanding of what is needed, and an unsustainable model of the human resources required to execute. Rather than taking this stance, Bridges adopts a pull approach in all of the work we do. We work with local community partners to clearly understand and define their needs and priorities, and to determine which resources would be most relevant and effective in meeting these needs. If Bridges is a good fit, we tailor and execute our programming to work for the community (visit the Programming page for more information about our programs), and we followup by mentoring interested program participants and by connecting them to appropriate resources. And, if more relevant support for community needs exists elsewhere, connections are made such that the community can find a good fit.
Example: Bridges’ Unveiling Youth Potential program first started because of an invitation from a group of university-educated immigrant and diaspora youth. They were in need of leadership development and social entrepreneurship training such that they could inspire positive change in their home countries. However, given the many invitations we’ve received to run the program in Canadian Aboriginal communities, we’ve adapted the program to work for them. While the core concepts remain the same (as we believe they are fundamentally important for capacity-building work), the execution and integration of these concepts differs depending on the group with whom we are working.
*banner photo courtesy of stock.xchng user Scott Liddell. “People from Above”.