BRIDGE-ing Cultures and Cultivating Change in LA through Original Youth & Community Theatre

submission by bridgetheatre

About Your Organization

Organization name(s):

B.R.I.D.G.E Theatre Project (fiscal sponsor, The Attic Theatre)

Organization website:

www.bridgetheatre.org

Organization Twitter handle:

www.twitter.com/BRIDGE_Theatre

Organization Facebook page:

www.facebook.com/bridgetheatre

Organization Instagram:

No Instagram (yet!)

Describe your organization (check only one):

Nonprofit organization

For-profit organization

Government

Individual

Please describe yourself (check only one):

Solo actor (just us on this project!)

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

:

Connect and unite diverse LA youth through collaborative playwriting & performance workshops, generating actions to address local problems.

IN ONE SENTENCE, PLEASE DESCRIBE WHAT YOUR ORGANIZATION DOES.

:

Through original theatre, BRIDGE fosters cultural awareness & engages youth in exploring practical ways to create change in their community.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County? Check only one.

Yes (benefits all of LA County)

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Yes (benefits a population of LA County)

No

Please write a sample tweet to describe your submission.

:

@BRIDGE_Theatre is bringing #LAyouth together: sharing stories, creating plays, inspiring community… This is how we #MakeAChange!

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit? Check all that apply.

Central LA

East LA

South LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South Bay

Westside

Other:

If other, please specify.:

Lynwood (with potential to expand throughout LA County)

WHAT IS YOUR IDEA/PROJECT IN MORE DETAIL?

:

BRIDGE Theatre Project began in 2009 as an international theatre program offering worldwide exchange opportunities for youth to connect through original plays. Our name, BRIDGE, is an acronym for Building Relationships and Inspiring Dialogue through Global (or Grassroots) Exchange. We have had hugely successful programs here in LA and in severely impoverished areas of Ecuador and Nepal.

We have been offered an opportunity to further develop our mission with the Lynwood Unified School District. With LA2050 support, we will expand our program goals to connect LA youth of different cultural backgrounds while promoting change within their communities by exploring solutions to local problems, all through storytelling and original theatre.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

:

Our first goal is to connect students to themselves. Through writing prompts and sharing personal stories in a supportive environment, students explore their own dreams and struggles on a deeper level. Identifying commonalities among one another breaks down perceived barriers and preconceived notions among the group, leading to the important understanding that we are all more alike than different. We deepen this idea by learning about the cultural diversity found all around Los Angeles, demystifying stereotypes and gaining appreciation for the unique qualities we all possess.

Through this process of writing, open sharing, and interactive theatre activities, we also begin creating an awareness of students’ own personal struggles, as well as those in the community at-large. Through theatre, we engage students to imagine: What would our lives look like without these struggles? And how do we make that happen? We also impart the importance of setting attainable goals, challenge students how to manage long-term problems and consider compromises that may be necessary (give and take).

The next step is collaboration: How do we work together to make a better community? How do we unite our commonalities and utilize our unique and wonderful differences to do that? To that end, students work in small groups to combine their individual stories and solutions to create a collaborative work of art: an original, group-written play. The students then have an opportunity to perform one of the other small groups’ plays, allowing them to “try on” and “act out” other solutions that may differ from their own. This further demonstrates that there is no one way to tackle a problem – there are many great ideas, and by working together we can develop practical solutions to attain them.

From there we invite the community to participate in the change-making process. Students perform their plays and share their stories in a culminating production for their families, teachers and other members of the community. We engage the audience in discussion and even bring them on stage to “perform” their ideas for creating a better society. We invite neighborhood councils, civic leaders and social service agencies to facilitate the conversation of how to make real change right now. Sustainable efforts provide the community with tools to continue the conversation after the program ends and brainstorm ways to continue motivating one another to move forward with their goals.

HOW WILL YOUR IDEA/PROJECT HELP MAKE LA THE BEST PLACE TO CONNECT TODAY? IN 2050?

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Despite the myriad of diverse cultures in Los Angeles, we are surprisingly disconnected. BRIDGE Theatre Project offers an artistic means to correct this. We target the youth community, because children are the key to creating lasting change.

First and foremost, we must have a deeper understanding of who we are as individuals. Once we attain that, we can then identify what we have in common with those around us. BRIDGE expands this idea further by facilitating conversation about the diverse people and cultures prevalent in LA County, even if they have little to no current interaction with them. Opening their world view and allowing them to identify and connect with others outside their culture is a crucial component to our program. Through that means, the students can begin working together. It also prepares them for future cross-cultural interactions. The idea that we are more alike than different is paramount to unifying our society and creating positive change on the macro level.

Once students foster a stronger connection to themselves, then to one another, then to other populations within LA, they connect on a working level by collaborating with their peers in small groups to write a play. They gain an understanding of the democratic process (not every idea will be used, but the group will decide as a whole). Then, to gain an appreciation for other collaborative ideas, each small group rehearses and performs another group’s play. Through this connection, each student gains a broader perspective of how society can tackle different problems.

Children inspire us, and we rely on that for a successful culmination of the BRIDGE program. Families, teachers and other adults in the community will see the tangible connections made between the youth. Their progress and ability to dissolve barriers will inspire them to make a change, right here and now. Connecting them with civic leaders and service providers makes it possible for them to build a better community for themselves immediately. And the lasting effects are evident. By working with children, we plant the seeds for building a better future. We encourage students to get involved in their communities and civic processes now, and educate them how to do so even more in their adult years. BRIDGE nurtures in our youth the desire and know-how to make a change. By 2050, these students will be leaders in the community and active participants in local decision-making.

WHOM WILL YOUR PROJECT BENEFIT? PLEASE BE SPECIFIC.

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This BRIDGE project will benefit the Lynwood community of Los Angeles County, particularly elementary (grades 4 & 5), middle and high school youth in the Lynwood Unified School District (LUSD). The potential for expanding to other areas of LA County is very viable, with the only factors being capital and greater teaching artist support. BRIDGE programs in other LA regions are part of our strategic plan over the next 2-3 years.

There are 12 elementary, 3 middle and 3 high schools in LUSD. With LA2050 support, we will be able to conduct a 10-week BRIDGE program (2 after-school workshops per week) at each of Lynwood’s 18 schools. We anticipate that 25-35 students will participate at each school site, for an estimated total of 500-600 students served in the 2014-15 school year. An integral part of the program is also involving parents, teachers and other members of the community, linking them with civic leaders and empowering them to make positive changes.

Every school in LUSD is Title I, the majority of all students coming from low-income families. Lynwood High and Lynwood Middle Schools are both in the lowest-achieving 5% for all of California, according to the CA Department of Education. Demographically, the Lynwood region is 86% Latino, 10% African American, 1% Native American, 1% Asian/Pacific Islander, and 2% White, with 24% living below the federal poverty line (2010 US Census). Bordering other high-crime neighborhoods Compton and South Gate, Lynwood also has a prevalence of gang activity. Extracurricular programs like BRIDGE, geared to making a lasting change in the community, would be of tremendous benefit, and could cause a positive ripple-effect in surrounding communities.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

:

Lynwood Unified School District is a confirmed collaborator on this project. BRIDGE was approached by LUSD’s Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services to implement this program in all 18 schools within the district. It will mark our first collaboration with LUSD.

The great benefit of working directly with the school district is the ability to swiftly begin our program at each individual school without having to first establish in-roads at every site. Another advantage in our partnership with LUSD is access to limited district funding allocated for arts programming. (Please note, however, that this district funding alone is not sufficient enough to execute the full scope of our program as described here.)

Our chief administrative staff includes myself, Adam Kalesperis, and Joe Quintero, co-founding directors of BRIDGE Theatre Project. We have both worked as professional artists and educators, with over 20 years combined teaching and arts management experience. As co-founding directors of BRIDGE Theatre Project, we have worked together since 2009 (and since 2008 in previous teaching capacities), sharing responsibility for all BRIDGE program decisions both here in LA and abroad.

Additional partners will include teaching artists needed to execute the program at the schools. Having worked alongside many teaching artists with a variety of other LA arts organizations, we have a large pool of colleagues whom we’ve known for several years. We can attest to the quality and caliber of our network of teaching artists, and we will only approach the best of the best to be a part of this program.

The following guideposts are critical to a successful collaboration with all aforementioned partners:
1. A comprehensive understanding of our programmatic goals and benchmarks.
2. A strong passion for working with underserved youth.
3. A shared vision in shaping a positive future for all communities in Los Angeles.

How will your project impact the LA2050 "CONNECT" metrics?

Rates of volunteerism

Voting rates by race

Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support

Median travel time to work

Attendance at cultural events

Number of public transit riders

Participation in neighborhood councils

Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally (Dream Metric)

Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (Dream Metric)

Transit-accessible housing and employment (the share of housing units and percentage of jobs that are located within a half-mile of transit) (Dream Metric)

Total number of social media friends (Dream Metric)

Attendance at public/open street gatherings (Dream Metric)

Residential segregation (Dream Metric)

Access to free wifi (Dream Metric)

Other:

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.:

Rates of volunteerism & Percentage volunteering informally:
BRIDGE encourages youth and their communities to become more aware of one another’s struggles and sets forth actions to make change possible. A crucial lesson we will impart is the importance of volunteering for a cause you believe in. Monetary compensation isn’t always possible, but if it makes the community a better place, it’s worth it.

Voting rates by race:
Progress depends on active participants in the community. One of the simplest and most accessible ways to do this is voting, which we emphasize greatly in our program.

Adults getting sufficient support:
BRIDGE’s culminating presentation connects parents, teachers and other community members with local leaders in government and social services. They will help facilitate discussions on how to resolve personal and communal problems, and provide resources for sustainable support.

Attendance at cultural events:
Participating in BRIDGE directly engages students and their families in a cultural arts program. The workshops also spark interest and deepen understanding of the array of cultures in LA. Our hope is that BRIDGE will inspire them to get involved in even more cultural events for many years to come.

Participation in neighborhood councils & Attendance at public gatherings:
Creating community-wide change requires being actively involved in the local community. BRIDGE will emphasize the importance of participating in neighborhood councils, including possible field trips to Chambers of Commerce and other civic agencies, as well as attendance at public gatherings.

Government responsiveness:
Inviting civic leaders to the students’ culminating presentation and utilizing their expertise to generate discussions will provide direct interaction with community members. Listening to local concerns and proposed steps to solve them will establish a platform for improved responsiveness.

Total # of social media friends:
It is inevitable that students will make friends through this process. BRIDGE is all about connection, and this applies to the adult community who supports them as well. Facebook friends will surely multiply!

Residential segregation:
Creating awareness and understanding of other cultures in LA, while identifying commonalities and demystifying stereotypes, will plant seeds for a more tolerant, harmonious society. By 2050, we hope this aids in the cultural integration of residences throughout LA.

PLEASE SELECT WHICH OTHER LA2050 GOALS ARE RELEVANT TO YOUR PROJECT OR ORGANIZATION (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY):

LA is the best place to LEARN

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

LA is the best place to PLAY

PLEASE EXPLAIN HOW YOU WILL EVALUATE YOUR PROJECT.

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Each student will complete a comprehensive evaluation form prior to and concluding their participation in the BRIDGE project. These pre- and post-program evaluations pose questions directly related to the program goals and measure their impact on each individual student. In addition, observational assessments of individual and group progress will be recorded and reported throughout the program, by both teaching artists and administrative staff.

BRIDGE program goals for this project include, but are not limited to, the following benchmarks/metrics. By the conclusion of each 10-week program, participating students will:
*Gain confidence in expressing thoughts and feelings in a supportive environment.
*Gain experience in working collaboratively with others to attain a specific goal (writing a play).
*Develop a greater understanding of the various cultures that are part of Los Angeles.
*Acquire problem-solving skills applicable to individuals (micro) and communities at-large (macro).
*Learn the various roles and components of the theatrical process (from playwriting to production).
*Become familiar with local civic organizations and the resources they offer.
*Learn a variety of ways they can take an active role in shaping society (e.g. voting, town hall meetings).
*Make a commitment to get involved and participate in community-wide events.
*Engage friends, family, teachers and other community members to work together and create change.

WHAT TWO LESSONS HAVE INFORMED YOUR SOLUTION OR PROJECT?

:

The primary lesson that drives our work with BRIDGE Theatre Project is that we are more alike than different. It wasn’t until our first international program in Ecuador where this became truly evident. The children we worked with lived in a very poor area – their homes and classrooms were small shacks, many with faulty construction and no electricity. Though at the onset we appeared to have little in common with the students there, after working together and engaging in dialogue about our personal struggles and problems in the greater world, we discovered far more similarities than differences. This theme has continued to follow us, motivate and enlighten us. Returning to Los Angeles, where we began our program with a small group of students, we showed the local youth participants how their work was received in Ecuador. They, too, discovered they had a great deal in common. One LA student, Lucy, nailed in on the head when she said, “We’re really not that different from each other at all.” Later, while conducting our program in Kathmandu, Nepal, students there made the same observations: “They’re just like us!” Indeed, this valuable lesson continues to inform and inspire our work with BRIDGE.

Art inspires change. – This is another powerful driving force for BRIDGE, particularly for this initiative with LA2050. The evidence of art provoking and pushing us to see the world differently is everywhere, and theatre is a medium that does this like no other. Theatre incorporates all the other arts disciplines: writing, acting, voice, music, movement/dance, visual art; as well as stage management, technical and craft work. It’s all-inclusive – there is a place for everyone. To this end, we can involve virtually anyone from any walk of life to partake in the process. For BRIDGE, that process is inspiring change – both within ourselves and society as a whole.

Explain how implementing your project in the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

:

The biggest piece of the puzzle – our partnership with the schools – is already in place. Anticipating that all necessary funds come through, our next step will be hiring teaching artists, drawing from our pool of experienced former colleagues and, if necessary, interviewing other qualified candidates.

We may be able to initiate a handful of school programs in the fall, but the vast majority will need to begin in January-March of 2015 in order to provide sufficient time for hiring, training, solidifying curriculum, recruiting student participants, etc.

It is fully achievable for all 10-week programs in the 18 LUSD schools to be completed by May of 2015. The remainder of the grant term (through September 2015) will be dedicated to program review, data compilation, establishing continuing school and community feedback forums, reuniting with students over the summer to check in on progress of established program goals, and preparing for future programming in other regions of Los Angeles for the next school year.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

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Though we have a strong working relationship with Lynwood Unified’s Assistant Superintendent and we are confirmed to begin programming throughout their district, we are a new partner and have yet to establish personal connections with each of the individual school staff and students. This is one reason why we cannot realistically expect to execute the majority of our programs until early-2015. We will address this challenge with pre-program meetings with schoolteachers and administrative staff, as well as heavy recruitment efforts to ensure we have at least 25 students participating at each school site. Our teaching artists and volunteers will be instrumental in helping us establish these initial connections.

The second challenge we must prepare for regards cultural sensitivity. Not every student may be willing to discuss and embrace cultures different from their own. We need to equip ourselves with as much knowledge as possible regarding potential conflicts/resistance that may arise. To address this challenge, we will consult teachers and administrative staff at each school to obtain a full scope of the specific population of students we will be working with. After gathering that information, we will conduct a training/orientation with the teaching artists assigned to each particular school. We will also seek support within the workshops that specifically deal with culturally sensitive issues by requesting the presence of school counselors. It is our goal to hire a culturally diverse group of teaching artists and volunteers as well in order to better tackle these potential concerns.

WHAT RESOURCES DOES YOUR PROJECT NEED? (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY)

Money (financial capital)

Volunteers/staff (human capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)

Education/training

Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support

Quality improvement research

Discussion
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The vision of the founders - Adam & Joe - is not only crystal clear, it is already in action. BRIDGE is a global initiative, but it is so satisfying to see them work so intensely with the local community to end negative generational cycles. Honored to support a program that rolls empowerment, education, nurturing and leadership development into its efforts while serving the community that has the most to lose. Well done!

by B.Nartey
over 1 year ago

I've known the folks at BRIDGE when it was just a dream and now its become a beautiful reality. Joe and Adam do amazing worth with youth from all walks of life and from around the world! I support them 100%!
---Ruben C. Gonzalez
Theatre Artist and Teacher

by ruben.c.gonzalez
over 1 year ago

BRIDGE is a fantastic program helmed by some very talented and hardworking people. The work they do is very important and makes a real impact on the lives of children all over the world.

by allisonhuebert
over 1 year ago

I was lucky enough to experience BRIDGE Theatre Project first hand. My three children participated in their program. The experience was so enriching, and when they were able to witness other children from another country express their stories, it was truly priceless! BRIDGE helps children come together regardless of their different languages or culture. It allows them to understand that they do not stand alone when it comes to their hopes, fears or dreams. It is so exciting for me to hear that over the last few years they have grown to inspire even more children from other countries and that they will now be touching the lives of those who live in the LYNWOOD community. They are truly unique in their approach and execution. My children continue to express themselves in so many ways as well as continuing to have a true interest in other kids both culturally and creatively. I consider it a result of them being able to work with BRIDGE when they were younger. I will be eternally grateful to them for this experience.

by TatyanaYassukovich
over 1 year ago

There isn't enough that can be said about BRIDGE. In a world that is ever changing and pressuring students to perform academically, we forget that they need a creative outlet! BRIDGE allows young men and women to explore their individuality and become a part of something bigger than themselves. I absolutely love what this program provides. It's inspiring! It's selfless! Its just pure love passed on to our youth who need it most! Everything you've accomplished so far is incredible and I wish you even more success!!

by j.a.dawson23
over 1 year ago

From the very first moment I learned of BRIDGE I had to know more. Over the past few years I've followed what they're doing and I couldn't be happier giving my support to them. The arts are more important than ever to our children and the funding is less and less. BRIDGE has given and given and they'll continue giving but with proper support the results of their work will go from amazing to out of this world! We need more BRIDGE in the world!

by mckricfalusi
over 1 year ago

All good stories begin with passion. I am proud to have known Joe Quintero and Adam Kalesperis for a few years and have witnessed their passion for helping bring the stage and storytelling to places of the world that ordinarily would not be able to enjoy and learn from such programs that nurture talent and self esteem through the arts. BRIDGE truly is that, a bridge to the world that allows people to connect from all points of the world on their own story, giving them a platform to create, to invest in their dreams and to share their heart with others. Theirs is a spiritual journey that is heart felt and also grounded in practical education. Wherever BRIDGE goes LA is there to root for them. I am so happy to see that BRIDGE can call LA its home. As a grant writer for NJ public schools, I know well how much arts programs are needed to help children flourish with CORE standards. Where better than LA to build the foundation for BRIDGE!

by giovi.aguilar
over 1 year ago

I respect Adam Kalesperi's work with BRIDGE immensely and have followed the initiative over several years. It is a standout among other theater companies trying to conduct outreach to children at risk. The model that BRIDGE uses helps build confidence, allows productive play, encourages teamwork, advances self-awareness and processing of difficult personal, family and community issues. This is precisely the kind of initiative that involves the rest of the community, can draw on the incredible expertise of the film and stage industry in L.A. and serves as a model for other communities. In the words of the Arts Diplomacy blog, "What makes B.R.I.D.G.E Theatre Project truly exciting is the way Adam and Joe transcend the specutative nature of many arts diplomacy projects. Theirs is a model based on participation and respecting local voices and viewpoints to show the many fundamental ways in which we are all interconnected."

by Grant Barnes
over 1 year ago

Bridge is doing such much needed and important work for youth. There are so many negative influences and draws and this organization is the complete opposite. By allowing, teaching, and demonstrating positive role models, Bridge and it's dedicated and talented team provide opportunities for young people to see and believe in their talents and abilities. We need more groups like Bridge to give young people a real chance to succeed.

by roderick.kiracofe
over 1 year ago

Wonderful organization run by wonderful people. Bravo to BRIDGE!

by lpknowles
over 1 year ago

An amazing organization. The youth are able to express themselves in a positive way which is art. What a great easy to bring different cultures and the community together. Our youth needs positive influences since one day they are going to leaders. I support this organization 100%.

by yguillen
over 1 year ago

Lynwood needs BRIDGE!! Any opportunity that young people can have where they share their stories in a safe and creative space will promote empathy and partnership among the participants, help teach tolerance and acceptance, and will normalize and celebrate both our differences and correlative experiences. Arts programming in and around schools has been on the chopping block for eternity. Using the arts to build relationships among diverse groups of kids and promote civic engagement and collaboration is FUN. And in this era of education so focused on improving student achievement we cannot afford to deprive kids of opportunities to enact their creativity, or to connect with their physical and spiritual selves and their and, most importantly, with each other! These are 21st century skills and experiences that we must let our kids have - and BRIDGE's wonderful program will do just that for LUSD kids. ROCK ON BRIDGE!!!!!

by dannygetzoff
over 1 year ago

BRIDGE is an awesome resource for the young people of today. As they learn about each other culturally, and learn that "we indeed are the same" as others, it is my firm belief that this will carry them forward. As they go off to college and in the workplace, they will meet many people of different cultures. They will already have the tools they need to work and communicate with those around them. I have known of Adam and Joe's work for several years. They are amazing at reaching young people and helping them to further learn about their world. I wish that they had a BRIDGE hear in the south suburbs of Chicago.

by PeggyB132
over 1 year ago

In an ever changing world with a dynamic global community, BRIDGE is doing the very important work of connecting young people through a language that people all over the world understand: art. This program is helping young people voice their concerns, their joys, and their hope for their own futures through creative outlets and is ushering in change through the power of theater. We need this program and more importantly our kids need to be heard for positive change to happen NOW. BRIDGE is making this hope a reality for young people in Los Angeles and abroad.

by AdithiChand
over 1 year ago

In an age when people seem to be more connected to social media than each other, BRIDGE is the perfect way to bring creativity and real social connection to our youth. It has been a pleasure to see the growth of BRIDGE as an organization over the last several years, which I'm sure parallels the growth of the individuals who have been lucky enough to take part in these programs first hand. Congratulations Lynwood for getting such an amazing program in your schools!!!

by aschlitt16
over 1 year ago

BRIDGE takes an innovative approach to engaging the youth of a generation by giving them a forum to voice their opinions, and an arena for creative growth.

by AshleyShields
over 1 year ago

Wonderful to know that BRIDGE exists and pushes through, year after year. I can only imagine the leaps that they can make with a $100,000 grant! These folks are hard-working, determined, passionate and caring. If only we could have more programs like that! Onward and upward, BRIDGE! Support to you from everyone at Schkapf.

by olyapetrakova
over 1 year ago

BRIDGE is an empowering resource for growing global community awareness! I had two students participate as writers in the past and know BRIDGE to be an inspiration to young writers as fierce advocates of personal growth. Adelante!

by raulcardona
over 1 year ago

Bridge is an amazing program that gives children something they need most confidence through creativity. Through writing and team work these students will learn skills that they can use to thrive in the "real world". The best investment we can make is by investing in our future, by fostering our youth to be good leaders. This is exactly what bridge does!

by katrina.seifert.1
over 1 year ago

This is incredible and inspiring; Using the arts to teach teamwork, build relationships, learning to communicate and build leaders among diverse groups of kids while making the experience memorable and most of all FUN!

by t.bouwsma
over 1 year ago

BRIDGE is truly an organization that makes a difference in children's lives. Using the Arts to teach life lessons, communication stills and leadership skills is a great way to make a difference.

by tkmkzk
over 1 year ago

Giving young people the opportunity to write their own stories and share them with the world truly creates an invaluable BRIDGE between communities. Would love to see this program spread its worthwhile message!

by TiffanyAntone
over 1 year ago

What a beautiful organization! The arts can teach anything including important 21st centruy skills like teamwork and critical thinking. Bravo to BRIDGE for bringing the arts to Lynwood kids.

by bethpiano
over 1 year ago

What a beautiful and important program! The arts can teach anything - including 21st centtury skills such as teamwork & critical thinking. Bravo!!!

by bethpiano
over 1 year ago

BRIDGE is one of the most inspiring and heart-warming projects going. Opening the hearts and minds of young people to their own potentials as well as the potentials of those around them and to at-hand opportunities to make a difference is a goal we should all have, and is a goal that BRIDGE has taken on and is making happen. As a writer and educator in the public realm for more than 30 years, I’m humbled and grateful to the folks of BRIDGE for their dedication, selflessness, outreach, and compassion.

by Elizabeth_Massie
over 1 year ago

I've gotten to see what BRIDGE does and it works: the kids' joy, their pride and confidence. That moment when it dawns on a kid that they just spoke up, wrote a story, that they have something to say and that they'll be heard is life changing. Lynwood NEEDS BRIDGE.

by june.lomena
over 1 year ago

BRIDGE is alight with vision, expertise, dedication, compassion, diversity, short and long term goals, joy, creativity, and breadth, to enrich our Los Angeles youth and by extension, larger community. Theatre is a vehicle that speaks to social inequities before other mediums, and BRIDGE is committed to giving our youth the page and stage to tell their own stories. This will further equip these students to impact their societies positively. I am awed by the loving-kindness coupled with the communication, excellence, and stewardship BRIDGE has been and is devoted to executing. I feel it's our privilege and gift to help grown BRIDGE - for all of us.

by nicole.g.scip
over 1 year ago

I've been a supporter of BRIDGE since day one and have seen and heard evidence of the wonderful results of this program. The students who are lucky enough to be involved will have memories of this for their lifetime. BRIDGE impacts children in such an amazing and positive way!

by karenlovas
over 1 year ago

When I think of the word Inspiring, I think of BRIDGE. This is what moving forward in a staid world looks like. Thank you for what you do.

by michaelmodesty
over 1 year ago

What a beautiful way to bring children together - by teaching art and empathy. I have known a girl who went through this program and it gave her so much more confidence and a sense of self-worth. Keep up the great work!

by mpasquarelli
over 1 year ago

Bring this to Lynwood!!! Such an enriching experience for kids!!!

by katie.k.myhre
over 1 year ago

What a terrific organization! It is so important to reach kids who have not had opportunities in life and help to break that cycle! So proud of you and your work!

by RKRapp
over 1 year ago

The arts help children grow socially and emotionally.
Bring theater Lynwood and watch those children excel.

by kalsmith4
over 1 year ago

We're thrilled to have some incredible teaching artists on board! Lynwood, here we come...

by adamkalesperis
over 1 year ago

As a television producer, I have seen a lot of theater organizations however known come close to rivaling what BRIFGE does. Seeing the way that theater changes the lives of the under privledged youth that are fortunate enough to participate in the program takes my breath away. Absolutely spectacular and life changing - not only for the kids involved but for the greater community.

by Reneemoi
over 1 year ago

We so appreciate your support! Thank you for sharing. We're thrilled to see our vision become a reality in our work - both here locally and abroad.

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

Thanks for your kind words and support, Ruben! Yes, as cliche as it sounds, dreams really do come true. We hope BRIDGE can inspire the youth we work with to realize their own dreams.

by adamkalesperis
over 1 year ago

Thank you so much, Allison.

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

This is so touching to read. It warms our hearts beyond measure to know that your three children benefited from our program and have carried it with them in their lives. We are so grateful that you shared this. Thank you for recognizing the value of this work, and for expressing the impact it has had on your family.

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

Your words are heartwarming! Thank you so much for your support, both now and over these past few years. "Out of this world" huh? Currently we're just a global arts organization, but perhaps there'll be room to expand to intergalactic proportions :-) Only time will tell.

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

We're so grateful for your kind words and well-wishes! We strive for BRIDGE to be a creative outlet that provides a means for students to both perform better academically and promote positive change within their communities.

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

Wow- Your words are very humbling, Grant! We so appreciate your kindness, both here and on many more occasions through the years. We are honored to be thought of so highly, and we hope BRIDGE can serve as a model for similar community-building work in the years to come. Thank you, thank you!

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Roderick. We are doing what we can to fight the Good Fight! We so appreciate your support.

by adamkalesperis
over 1 year ago

Thank you!

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

Your words bring me chills, Giovi (in a good way)... I feel your passion, and I thank you for sharing that with us and the work Joe and I do with BRIDGE. Though we are rooted in LA, we hope one day to expand our program to NJ as well! Thanks for all the work you're doing there in public education.

by adamkalesperis
over 1 year ago

Thank you very much!! We are so grateful for your support.

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

Thank you, Adithi! We couldn't agree more about art being a common thread that connects us all, no matter what our background. It is with that philosophy that we continue working to inspire and unite our youth - both here in L.A. and all around the world!

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

It's so true that we need to establish more tangible connections with one another. It's increasingly difficult in this age of social media, but theatre is an art that will always provide that human connection. It's wonderful to see the growth of these children through that medium. Thank you for your encouraging words!!

by adamkalesperis
over 1 year ago

Thank you, Ashley!

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

Thank you very much, Olya. We have so enjoyed working with you in the past, and we hope to again in the near future. Please know that BRIDGE is a big supporter of Schkapf's work as well - We wish you and your team the absolute best!

by adamkalesperis
over 1 year ago

Gracias, Raul! We're so happy to know that our program has had such a positive impact on the lives of your students. Thank you for sharing!

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

Thank you so much, Danny! Everything you mentioned is spot-on with our company goals. We are excited for the opportunity and hope to make the arts a permanent fixture in our schools once again!

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

Thank you very much, Peggy. Perhaps BRIDGE will expand to Chicago in the coming years! One city at a time... :-)

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

Thanks, Katrina! Confidence is key, and by creating a safe space for all to share, we hope the children's confidence continues to permeate throughout the rest of their lives, creating a better future for us all!

by adamkalesperis
over 1 year ago

Thank you, Tammy! FUN is a MUST! It's the best way for us to learn and retain what we have learned. Thanks for your kind words.

by adamkalesperis
over 1 year ago

Thank you! We hope the skills they learn will have a ripple-effect for the whole community.

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

Thank you so much, Tiffany. We would love that, too!

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

Thank you, Beth! Yes, it cannot be overstated how crucial the arts are to real-world, life-enriching skills. Thanks to YOU for all the work you do, fighting the Good fight :-)

by adamkalesperis
over 1 year ago

How beautiful to read your words! Thank you so much, and thanks for all YOU have done as a writer and educator. We look forward to sharing our progress with you!

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

June- Teaching Artist Extraordinaire - You are a beacon of light, and we can't wait to see what incredible gifts you help these kids uncover. THANK YOU!

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

How humbling, Nicole. Thank you. You have been such a vital supporter of our work, and you continue to shower us with love and kindness. BRIDGE is forever grateful to you!!

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

We are so very grateful for your support all these years, Karen. Thank you, and thank you for your kind words. We can only hope that our program will make an impact on these students' lives that they will carry with them all their lives!

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

Thank you, Michael! How humbling, and gratifying to know that we are living up to our acronym: Building Relationships and INSPIRING Dialogue through Global/Grassroots Exchange. We're thrilled to do this work and look forward to the awe-inspiring things the children create!

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

I think I know which girl you're referring to! That's such a beautiful and humbling thing to hear. It's so wonderful to know the impact that this work can and has been making. Thank you, Maria!

by adamkalesperis
over 1 year ago

YES! Thank you!!

by adamkalesperis
over 1 year ago

Thank you very much, Rick! Couldn't agree more about breaking the cycle.

by adamkalesperis
over 1 year ago

Thank you so much- and yes! The social and emotional benefits of the arts, particularly theatre, are TREMENDOUS. With LA2050 support we will reach hundreds more children in the Lynwood community.

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

Yes indeed!! "Hear, hear!" - to the wonderful and talented group of teaching artists and school staff who will be guiding the students along this process. We can't wait to see what amazing things you do!

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

We're so honored to read your astounding words... Thank you for this beautiful commendation of the work and the impact on the community.

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

Jess- Thank you so very much! And yes, in the end, as you said, it is all about LOVE.

by adamkalesperis
over 1 year ago

Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts with us. BRIDGE is very much an organization driven by passion. It is only through opportunities such as this (LA2050), along with support from schools, teachers, community members, family and friends that we are able to translate that passion into real work of change. We are proud to have such encouragement from people like you. Thank you for cheering us on throughout the years - from BRIDGE's inception, and now, to greater opportunities in making a difference!

by bridgetheatre
over 1 year ago

Peggy- I would LOVE to bring BRIDGE to my old neighborhood in the south suburbs. Thank you so much for your support through the years, and thank you for your kind words here.

by adamkalesperis
over 1 year ago

Danny!! I love your enthusiasm for our program. And I couldn't agree with you more. Thank you, and thanks so much for your support of BRIDGE over the years!

by adamkalesperis
over 1 year ago

Pink ribbon award box icon 45b87e779c93f5099a48378c2aadc0fcd51184974daecf76e3f5c50034ea21fb
Award topvotedidea 5a5ae14e3d56a10363ea2a398cece46cf4df891213cbe68677c19d8903a1932a
$100,000
Circle 1 inactive e7784182a1bd5eace578987db27fc19ec6337f418c48c6c8732605b9043d50d0 Step1 title submission inactive cde083e53089b973e7c9dc80a44a038c1ce4cf3b2650aeb5549157d1ed58a2d9

Submission Began
Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Submission Ended
Thursday, July 31, 2014
at 07:00 PM UTC

Circle 2 inactive 74a43088831beb43fdbd7591ef5d50a5a7a26ff92c9e8ed489782459fa31a8d9 Step2 title voting inactive 96be722f53c417edddb5742ba9a6dc2fd403f7e4f6c19dbe883d50d20d93689d

Voting Began
Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Voting Ended
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
at 07:00 PM UTC

Circle 3 83da7a9432aeea960e1a9e9ee93e7ea1221af6c8f42b27964f2e9999d94b2b8d Step3 title 3d9e2a65d6ea1ad301f8fc607f5f828bd96362932c71d81c0da5b1fd964422b0
Special Olympics World Games 2015
Special Olympics World Games 2015

Winner Announced
Tuesday, September 30, 2014