Program Overview


Bridge Builders COLLABORATE

Become a leader for justice and change in your community by committing to our year-long leadership, diversity and community action training program.  Led by BRIDGES staff, you’ll build your self-confidence, relationships and your ability to be a leader for justice in the Mid-South—now and for the rest of your life. 


You’ll start your journey through COLLABORATE at our Summer Leadership Conference—a week-long experience designed to bring out your inner Bridge Builder.

You’ll make connections with other youth across the Mid-South and build yourself into the leader your community needs now.

Following your summer leadership experience, you'll participate in three events per semester -- a leadership training, a community action event and an elective. Each component is designed to help you strengthen your leadership skills in your day-to-day life... and reunite you with a support network of other Bridge Builders from across our community. 

Program fees for COLLABORATE are based on the annual household income of the student. Please note that this payment is a fee for the program and is not tax deductible.  We are committed to keeping costs as low as possible, and your cost to participate is based on an annual sliding scale fee to offset program costs. 

Discover your leadership potential and become a force for positive social change by joining Bridge Builders COLLABORATE year-long program! As a Bridge Builder, you’ll meet youth leaders from across the Mid-South, develop your leadership skills and learn how to get involved in your community. The Bridge Builders one-year program includes:
  • Bridge Builders Summer Leadership Conference 
  • Two Bridge Builder Trainings (1 fall and 1 spring)
  • Two Electives (1 fall and 1 spring)
  • Two Community Action Projects (1 fall and 1 spring)

Read below to learn more! 

Note: The 2016-17 Bridge Builders COLLABORATE Application will open on November 16th, 2015.

Bridge Builders Summer Conference  - Your Bridge Builders experience will begin with the Summer Leadership Conference -- a week-long group experience led by BRIDGES staff. You will join a diverse group of same-aged youth from around the Memphis area. Peers who start off as strangers will soon become close friends as you team up in high-energy activities and discussions designed to build camaraderie and confidence in your skills as a leader and a critical thinker. Your summer conference experience will equip you with the tools and friendships you need to make the most of your Bridge Builders year. 7th-10th graders will meet daily at the BRIDGES Center and 11th-12th graders will spend a weeklong overnight experience at a unique location.Overnight conference for 11th-12th grade; day conference for 7th-10th grade from 8am - 6pm.Click here for summer conference dates and locations. 

Training Sessions -  Develop a greater appreciation of your own leadership skills and the issues affecting our community with Bridge Builders training sessions. Through a three-hour series of activities and discussions, you and your peers will delve into topics such as diversity, community action, and teamwork. What begins as a staff- guided activity quickly becomes much more as you and your fellow Bridge Builders take the reins in discussions that dig into these topics like never before, thanks to BRIDGES’ unique approach to discussion. Our staff is trained to ask questions that steer the conversation towards the themes that are most important to you, making every participant feel acknowledged and valued. Even when you are discussing the most sensitive topics, you will be surprised at how open and welcoming the BRIDGES atmosphere is.

Community Action - You will quickly find out that Bridge Builders take a hands-on approach to community involvement. As Bridge Builders, we believe we all have a civic responsibility to make our community a better place. Find the local issues you are most passionate about through COLLABORATE community action events, which give you a chance to experience the bettering of Memphis first-hand. Not only do these events give you a chance to get your hands dirty – they will provide enough background on the issues to turn you into an educated activist capable of making sustainable efforts to improve the community. Community action events include:Teacher Up – a rare chance to see your teachers outside of the classroom and tell them about your side of the story as a student … and get perspective on what it’s like to be a teacherMcKellar Lake – fight the buildup of trash and learn about Memphis’ complex history of waste managementNeighborhood Christian Center – develop a greater appreciation of literacy skills and help out youth in the Frayser area by reading to them in a positive environment Whatever your passion, you will be able to find a way to use it to make a positive impact in Memphis through community action.

Electives: Delve into topics outside of the usual Bridge Builders curriculum with our elective events, which give you a chance to explore the wealth of culture and opportunity in Memphis. With an ever-changing roster of events and topics to choose from, you’ll be sure to find an elective that speaks to your passions. Social justice, local politics, and the arts are just a few of the themes regularly featured in our electives. Join Bridge Builders COLLABORATE for a chance to dig deeper and find all the opportunities and resources Memphis has in store for you!
Past electives have included:
  • Conversations with the Leadership Memphis Executive class
  • World of Traditions - a youth-led exploration of the cultural heritage behind the world’s most popular holidays
  • Town Hall Meetings with city and county leaders
  • Concerts and workshops on the appreciation of music and dance


History of Bridge Builders®

Founded by community leader Rebecca Webb Wilson in 1988, the Bridge Builders® program brought together 40 students from two schools - Briarcrest and Northside - in its first year.  Today, the program serves roughly 1,500 high school juniors and seniors each year from more than 50 public, private, parochial, county and home schools across the Greater Memphis area and has even expanded to Montgomery, Alabama.

The mission of Bridge Builders® is to unite and inspire diverse young people to become confident and courageous leaders committed to community transformation. Bridge Builders build the skills necessary to improve their self-confidence, strengthen their relationships, succeed in school and take action to build a healthy community - all while concentrating on three focus areas - diversity appreciation, community action, and leadership.

Your Bridge Builders® Staff

Mario Hendrix - Director ( or 901.260.3770)

Megan Richardson - COLLABORATE Coordinator ( or 901.260.3759)

Johnathan Boswell - Recruitment Coordinator ( or 901.260.3719)

Alex Middleton - Recruitment and Program Specialist ( or 901.260.3769)



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