Dear LERDs,

First and foremost: HAPPY PRIDE MONTH! 🌈

You’ll find that this newsletter is loaded with information and updates. Some of the most exciting ones are a) the super positive results from our internal assessments, b) End-Of-Year CMS teacher surveys regarding our academic support as a Remote Learning Site, b) ourBRIDGE being highlighted in three national reports, and of course, c) welcoming the Bridge Kids back to the center for our summer programs.

COVID has taught us invaluable lessons that have redefined our commitment to our mission and our community, pushing us to expand well beyond our amazing out-of-school programming. ourBRIDGE is getting ready for a summer of significant growth and with it, we hope to inspire drastic societal changes to the ways immigrant and refugee families are treated, seen, and even talked about. Be on the lookout for big news coming soon, we will need your help to make it happen.

As always, thank you for your continuous support and for believing in our mission. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Sil Ganzó
ourBRIDGE Executive Director
She/Her
Sil@joinourbridge.org
NATIONAL REPORTS HIGHLIGHTING ourBRIDGE




Our LERD Values:

  • Love: Every human being has the right to feel a sense of belonging in a safe, inclusive, and loving community. We believe in allowing children to be their full and authentic selves. 
  • Education: We believe that true learning is a liberatory practice. We encourage curiosity, connection, and foster a love of learning in all our students.
  • RespectThe belief that respect is earned, not given, is a central belief to ourBRIDGE. We model and encourage respect for all. 
  • Diversity: We believe diversity becomes inclusion through intentionality, humility and action. We ensure an environment where everyone's identities, cultures, and beliefs can thrive.
A TRAUMA-INFORMED APPROACH

Because of a Belk Foundation Next Gen grant, our staff has received trainings and ongoing coaching and support on:

  • Neurobiology of healthy brain development
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences and the effects on the brain
  • The connection between relationships and healing trauma
  • Child led environments 
  • The Importance of free play
  • Restorative Circles and Practices
  • Building students' sense of self efficacy and autonomy 
  • Trauma Informed Classroom Management 
  • CTRT (Child-Teacher Relationship Training)
Claire Cronin, who has been guiding us through the journey to become a Trauma Informed Care Center, has become DOCTOR CRONIN! Her dissertation was inspired by her time volunteering at ourBRIDGE. She called it “It sometimes heals, but it sometimes hurts”; Understanding the experiences of staff in an after-school program for immigrant youth.
You can read the executive summary HERE
WE KICKED OFF 2021 SUMMER PROGRAMS!
"Where Am I?": From the Milky Way to Charlotte, NC
110 K-8 Bridge Kids will join us in June/July!
We'll visit the Immersive Van Gogh Experience and we will go kayaking in the Catawba River.
NEW EXPANDED FAMILY SUPPORT PROGRAM
Earlier this year, we included a full-time Family Support Coordinator position. This role evolved from one person working part-time with ourBRIDGE households to three people reaching 120 newly-arrived families (nearly 500 individuals), whose kids were not connecting to their classes due to issues rooted in inequity. The ourBRIDGE Family Support Team work with each family, in their first language, to identify challenges and access all available resources to address them, including but not limited to:
ADVANCING LANGUAGE JUSTICE AND ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE
In 2020, we hosted three COVID-19 drive-through testing/flu shots events, and more recently, we have focused our efforts on vaccine information distribution and vaccination events. 
The testing events were attended by 1500+ neighbors, most of them were neighbors who spoke English as a second or third language.
We created in-house COVID prevention flyers in twelve languages and distributed to immigrant/refugee neighborhoods. We advocated for service agencies to make 3Ws (Wear a Mask, Wait 6 ft Behind, Wash Your Hands) posters and other information accessible to non-English/Spanish-speaking communities as well.
In collaboration with community partners, we will continue hosting health fairs and coordinating vaccination efforts while providing accurate, effective, relevant vaccine information so our community can make informed decisions on their health. 
ADDRESSING FOOD INSECURITY
Last week we concluded our meal bundle distribution program. With the help of volunteers, we distributed 2,755 CMS Meal Bundles from September 2020 through June 2021 (yep, last week!). Each Meal Bundle had enough milk and fresh fruits and vegetables for one child for one week. We are thankful for our partnership with CMS and the many community members who make this happen.

This was in addition to the nearly 140,000 culturally-specific meals and grocery bags our staff brought to hundreds of refugee and immigrant neighbors and households. By contracting with refugee and immigrant business owners, we reinvested $170,000 back into the east side.
If you'd like to learn more about our efforts during COVID-19 in 2020, please see our updates from Spring 2020, Fall 2020 and Winter 2021.
And here are more photos of our program in action:
Let's do more together!
I invite you to please consider supporting our work by following this link.

We have so much to do!
ourBRIDGE | Website