Help A Low-Income Girl Stay in School

by Community Bridges Inc.
Year End Retreat Photo # 1
Year End Retreat Photo # 1

Summer is a busy time at Community Bridges as we evaluate the successes of the past school year and plan for the upcoming year to ensure that the girls in our programs (from 4th grade through high school) are continuing to grow and learning the skills that will enable them to become leaders who plan for their future accomplishments. 

Every week during the school year, the girls make strides and at the end of the year, our special activities demonstrate how much the girls have matured and learned to give back to the community.  Highlights of our recent year-end activities include:

A Well Deserved and Successful Year End Retreat

On June 9th and 10th, 26 Community Bridges elementary, middle and high school girls attended our annual overnight retreat at the Lathrop E. Smith Center.  These girls had maintained good attendance and had grades of C+ or higher. The girls spent the weekend playing games, competing in a scavenger hunt, enjoying ‘smores over a bonfire, and performing at an “Any Talent Talent Show”.

The weekend is a great opportunity for girls of different ages and from different schools to strengthen the ties they’ve built with each other at other Community Bridges events. This weekend is a highlight of the year that girls look forward to all year long.

GLOW! Girls Giving Back

On Saturday May 12, GLOW! girls (Community Bridges’ high-schoolers) dedicated their afternoon to feeding the homeless at McPherson Square in Washington, DC. GLOW! partnered with the Homeless Ministry of Sligo Adventist Church in Takoma Park . The girls made bagged lunches, including 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Then the girls traveled to McPherson Square to pass out the lunches. Within groups and with adults, the girls went around greeting the homeless. The girls felt very moved by the people and stories they heard. One tenth grader, expressed her despair when she realized that there were not enough lunches to feed all those in need at McPherson Square that day.  

JumpStart Middle School Girls’ “Our True Colors Show”

On May 10 over 100 families and community members joined together at the Silver Spring Civic Center for Community Bridges' 2nd Annual Our True Colors Show. The idea for the annual show came from a Community Bridges’ middle schooler last year who was determined to address the amount of racism, sexism, bullying and focus on outer beauty she saw around her. For several weeks prior to the show, Community Bridges’ middle schoolers worked on various projects, including a PSA about teen pregnancy, a magazine on inner beauty, a step routine on bullying, and a play on cyber bullying.  The evening culminated in a fashion show, where the girls wore clothing representative of their cultures and inner beauty.  Each girl stopped at the microphone at the end of the "catwalk" to share her "I'm beautiful because" statement.  

JumpStart Elementary School Girls Community Service

On May 29 Community Bridges dropped off 40 bagged breakfasts lovingly prepared for the residents of the Home Builders Care Assessment Center (HBCAC), a men’s emergency shelter managed by the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH). Twelve girls from Rolling Terrace Elementary decorated brown bags with encouraging messages and then helped to stuff them with healthy breakfast foods. The project made quite an impact on the girls, who shared their thoughts that it is "good we can help make sure they have something good to eat for breakfast" and "make them smile.”  

 Learning at the Smithsonian FolkLife Festival

On June 27, 20 elementary, middle and high school girls attended a field trip to DC to enjoy the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival.  The girls visited the booths of several universities from across the country, learning about such topics as advances in disability accommodations, green living, sustainable agriculture, and tsunami-proof engineering.  They also saw the AIDS quilt and watched hula and mariachi performances. 

Year End Retreat Photo # 2
Year End Retreat Photo # 2
Year End Retreat Photo #3
Year End Retreat Photo #3
Field Trip to Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Field Trip to Smithsonian Folklife Festival


Advocacy Night in Annapolis
Advocacy Night in Annapolis
College Here We Come
On Feb. 17, we took five high school girls from our GLOW! program to visit the campus of Towson University in Towson, Md. Many of the girls were excited to go because it would be their first exposure to a university campus.  Campus staff praised our girls for their early interest and initiative to look into colleges.  We toured the campus for 90 minutes. The girls visited the school’s recreation center (which included a rock climbing wall), science building, dining quarters, and school store. They also got their first glimpse of a college dorm, which all thought was pretty small for two people! The girls asked questions about different sports and clubs on campus, and about the overall course load and professors. They also got to touch the famous “Doc” the Tiger mascot’s statue.
The girls carried themselves very proudly, and asked questions about college and the different opportunities they could have. On the way back, the girls and the Community Bridges staff reflected about the experience and what some of the pros and cons about Towson were. One of our ninth graders was on her first college tour. She was very interested in college in general and stated that she enjoyed Towson and would consider applying there when she reaches her senior year in high school. The girls were excited about future college tours and learning firsthand about the college experience.
Advocacy Night in Annapolis
On March 5 our JumpStart! Elementary School Program Manager took two sisters to participate in Advocacy Night in Annapolis, MD, in collaboration with the Maryland Out of School Time network. The girls were given an audience with several elected officials, including Senator Karen Montgomery. The girls shared their experiences being a part of JumpStart! and spoke to the importance of funding for after school programs. When speaking with Senator Montgomery the girls also asked questions about the legislative process, inquiring about how a bill gets passed and how old they would have to be to work for her! Out of this conversation came tickets for their family to attend a play at the Olney Theatre, which Senator Montgomery donated herself. Thanks, Senator Montgomery, and way to use your voices, girls! 

Women’s Rights Trip to Washington, D.C.

This March in honor of Women's History Month, JumpStart! Middle School focused on women's rights and women leaders. The girls watched the movie Iron Jawed Angels with Hilary Swank, a film about the women's suffrage movement in the US in the early 1900s. It tells the story of Alice Paul, a champion for women's voting rights. After seeing the movie, 30 middle school girls attended field trips to the Sewall Belmont House Museum in Washington, D.C. The house was the headquarters for the National Women’s Party. The girls learned about the female leaders and the ways they protested inequality, especially by using banners. Girls then had the opportunity to make their own banners for things they want to change in their communities now. Many girls shared that they were surprised by all that women had to go through to gain equal rights. It was a great trip!

It's Spring Break!
During the first week of April, our Program Managers will be busy taking our girls on several college tours. Trips are scheduled to Catholic, Howard, American, University of Maryland-College Park, and Dickinson College! Can you guess which got the most permission forms? (Hint- Carlisle, PA)
On a crisp, fall, November afternoon, 20 girls from Oak View and Kemp Mill elementary schools explored the beauty of Sharp's at Waterford Farm in Brookeville, MD. The purpose of the trip was for the girls to learn more about the connection between Maryland's natural resources and the communities where they live. Leading up to the trip, we had been discussing what makes a thriving community and the people who are vital to making our communities great.
As soon as we arrived, the girls leaped up onto the wagon reserved for our hayride; along with our friend, Peanut, a chocolate lab who the girls quickly fell in love with. The highlight of the hayride was rolling through Cattail Creek and hearing the girls' screams of delight (and maybe just a hint of nervousness) as the water splashed and Peanut jumped from the wagon to take an impromptu swim. After our short ride, we took a scenic walk through the nature trail and learned how the creek feeds our water supply in Silver Spring and also learned a bit about the foliage in the land--our best lesson was to not touch anything that you can't identify; we avoided some nasty poison oak thanks to the girls' curiosity.  
After the nature walk, the group jumped back on the wagon, and on our way back to our loading point, made a brief stop at a gorgeous pond and saw a beaver's nest and posed for a group photo. Lastly, the girls got to feed some of the animals on the farm; cows, chickens and rabbits. This was definitely another highlight of the afternoon. Soon after, we brought the afternoon to a close with a short time of reflection for the girls to share their favorite moments from the trip--the timing was perfect as the cold was really starting to bite!
The following week, a few of the girls continued to talk about some of the facts they learned on the nature walk, i.e. identifying different types of plants/trees and sharing them with girls who had not been able to go. All in all the girls enjoyed their time and are thankful to all the staff and chaperones who made this trip possible and we're looking forward to more outdoor adventures in the Spring!


White House Field Trip
White House Field Trip

In School Programs Are off to a Great Start

Programs, which began the first week of October, are in full swing! Through partnerships with eleven schools within Montgomery County, Community Bridges provides out-of-school time activities to 150 girls and their families. Community Bridges also hosted two open houses for families to meet the program managers and learn about the programs.  More than 50 families attended. Staff also gathered needs assessments from parents in order to begin planning this fall’s Family Roundtables.  At each Roundtable, families will engage in discussion of topics they have identified as relevant, such as communicating with their daughters about dating and intimacy, knowing who their daughters’ friends are, and advocating for their daughters’ education within the Montgomery County Public Schools. 

This year the girls in our program will focus on three themes: healthy sense of self, critical thinking, and positive leadership.  Our Glow! High School Program will also focus on the fourth theme of college and career readiness.

Plans are also underway to host our 2nd Annual Art Show in December.  During this event, girls will demonstrate what they’ve learned during the fall through various art forms. This year Community Bridges is partnering with community organizations that will bring in outside experts in various art forms, such as photography, dance, and theater. Working on these projects in groups allows the girls opportunities to develop such skills as goal setting, problem solving, conflict resolution, and positive leadership, and to build confidence in their abilities. After last year’s Art Show, many of the Community Bridges girls expressed the desire to work on longer-term projects, so changes in this year’s show preparation made sure we delivered on this request. As the date gets closer we will send invitations to the Art Show, and we hope you will join us for this exciting evening with the girls and their families.

Field Trips that Inspires Girls to Work Hard and Reach for the Stars

Two Memorable Trips to the White House

 Marine One

With cameras in hand, four Community Bridges girls watched President Obama exit Marine One on Sept. 14 as he returned to the White House from a trip to North Carolina. The trip was coordinated by Community Bridges Program Manager Lauren Wetherell working with Monique Dorsainvil, who works in the White House Office of Public Engagement and was previously an intern in the Office of the First Lady.  In the weeks prior to the field trip, the girls were given a fact sheet on Marine One and Community Bridges staff lead a discussion on the president and his modes of transportation. As the helicopters approached on Sept. 14, the girls attempted to guess which helicopter the president was in, having learned that two were decoys. Smiles erupted when the girls realized they had guessed correctly. 

The girls took the opportunity to ask Ms. Dorsainvil questions, including “What do you have to do to work at the White House?” and “When is the next election?” Standing in front of the White House, watching the president of the United States land, and making a connection with a woman who works for the Obama administration was quite a powerful experience for our Community Bridges girls, and an experience they won’t soon forget.

State Arrival Ceremony

Despite the cold and rainy weather, six Jump Start Middle School girls along with their program manager and attended the Korean State Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn at the White House on Thursday, October 13, 2011. This trip was made possible by our contact at the White House Office of Public Engagement. Ms. Monique Dorsainvil. This was a great experience for our girls as they had an opportunity to hear both President Obama and President Lee Myung-Bak offer remarks on forging partnerships between the United States and South Korea.



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Organization Information

Community Bridges Inc.

Location: Silver Spring, MD - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Community Bridges Inc.
Project Leader:
Katherine Morrison
Interim Executive Director
Silver Spring, Maryland United States

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