Bridges From School to Work
Bridges is a national program with offices in 8 regions and expanding. Bridges works with young persons ages seventeen to twenty-two years of age. The program was started to help prepare and link quality transitioning teens with disabilities to employers. The staff works with the participants to find the right fit based on their skill sets, ensuring they are meeting the needs of the employers. Bridges locations work with local vocational rehabilitation agencies and school districts to identify quality and eligible candidates for the program.
Established in 1989 by the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities, Bridges from School to Work engages employers, schools, community resources, youth and their families to help businesses meet their workforce needs while offering young people with disabilities the opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed through employment.
Each year, Bridges helps more than a thousand young people—most of whom are transitioning out of high school special education—prepare for the workplace and find a job with an employer needing qualified, entry-level applicants. Creating and supporting mutually beneficial competitive employment relationships, the program creates opportunities for employment for youth while driving bottom-line results for businesses.
Staff members work with the participating individuals on necessary employment skills. Bridges wants to make sure that the employers are happy with the placements. Many of the individuals go on to typical employment with the associated employers. The program states that forty percent of employers hire multiple candidates.
Initially, Bridges staff provide customized employment assessments and offer work-readiness workshops while getting to know each youth as thoroughly as possible. With this knowledge, the best possible job matches can be suggested, and appropriate support provided. All services are made available in the context of planning and goal-setting for ongoing vocational growth. Staff intervention is customized for each participant but typically lasts in the range of 15-24 months.
- Dallas/ Fort Worth
- Los Angeles
- New York City
- San Francisco
- Washington DC Metro
Basic Eligibility Requirements
With a focus on the skills, interests, and experience of the youth they serve, Bridges has helped more than 16,000 young adults with disabilities get a start on a vocational path. The program is non-categorical as to whom it serves—its most important priority is working with youth with a genuine commitment to employment success. Beyond that, the primary criteria for program participation are:
- 17-24 years old
- Documentation of a disability through an Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, an IEP, or a medical professional
- A valid social security number (or other U.S. citizenship document)
- Can get to and from work independently
The Bridges program is a great resource for teens and young adults with disabilities transitioning into the workforce. If no program exists in your area, you can work with Bridges to help create one. Bridges has been connected to more than 3,000 employers around the United States.
Visit the Bridges website at www.bridgestowork.org and find out more!