Building Bridges, I can say with certainty, changed my life in more ways than one. I had never had this sisterhood before, this group of like-minded young women eager to make positive changes in their world. This program inspired and motivated me to never stop making my voice heard.
Participating in Building Bridges at the age of 18 changed my life in profound ways.
I felt connected to the other young women who participated in the program and empowered in my own abilities to communicate with others effectively and to be able to exercise more compassionate and strong leadership.
2016 was a tumultuous year, with lots of changes for our organization, our communities, our nation, and the world. The US Presidential Election held a mirror up to the conflict, discrimination, and biases still alive and well in this country. What we saw was painful. What we saw challenged us. What we saw reaffirmed the importance of our work.
And what we saw motivated the incredible generosity of our community! We are humbled and invigorated by the outpouring of financial support we received in December. Raising over $30,000, this year-end campaign ensures that we can kick off the new year on a strong foundation.
We enter 2017 with gratitude and hope – gratitude for people supporting positive transformation and hope for positive social change towards a more just, inclusive society.
By Amanda Andrews, Building Bridges Middle East US 2013-2015 and Current Alumni Fellowship Member
In this era of social justice and progressive movements, it can be hard to keep up with all the changes. It can be overwhelming, even for those people who are interested in social justice movements.
We are excited to share that a new member has joined the Building Bridges team! This September, we welcomed Megan Devenport as our new Executive Director.
Megan is a community social worker with more than 10 years of experience. She brings a wealth of new expertise to our work; her background includes direct service with young people, community-building, and advocacy. Most recently, Megan was the Program Manager for Denver Shared Spaces, helping nonprofits connect commercial real estate with social impact. She has also worked as a counselor with young people and their families. This varied experience informs her work, and brings to Building Bridges a rich set of skills and expertise that will support the organization as we grow and work with young people here in Colorado.
With excitement and hope,
Building Bridges Board Chair and Alum
Join us in Denver on Friday, April 17th for our 10th annual Circles of Change Awards event. By celebrating others’ accomplishments each year, we hope to demonstrate that positive change is possible and that the courageous acts of one expand into circles of change. We also hope to pass this belief onto Building Bridges participants and teach that the tireless acts of individuals are what create more just, inclusive societies.
Colorado and MEUS participants are teaching others the Building Bridges skills and approaches they have learned.
Colorado and MEUS participants are teaching others the Building Bridges skills and approaches they have learned. Since school resumed last September they have: facilitated open race dialogues in school; brought Building Bridges activities to a student council when they noticed all the voices weren’t being heard; organized a student walk-out in response to Ferguson; conducted Building Bridges activities in their social studies classrooms – and all of this before they begin to execute their planned change projects later this spring.
Planned change projects include photo projects, race dialogues, class discussions, public murals, youth worker training and more. Check back on the site for updates on how those evolve.
To our Building Bridges community:
After we made the heartbreaking decision to cancel our summer Middle East/U.S. program, we were overwhelmed by the kindness and support you showed us. We were excited to tell you about the 22 alumni who quickly came forward wanting to join us instead, adults from Israel and Palestine who wanted to reconnect, re-engage, and continue our work in a new way.
Sadly, multiple flight bans were put into place last week and we were forced to cancel even those alumni sessions. Our U.S. staff and facilitators were already on the way to Turkey, along with a couple of Israeli and Palestinian facilitators coming from places other than Tel Aviv. We decided not bring anyone else to Turkey because we can’t be sure that we could get them home safely. Additionally, we believe that the emotional fatigue caused by the ongoing and worsening conflict would make it challenging to do the work. Those facilitators who are in Turkey now are receiving advanced training in facilitation and program leadership, and are planning for the coming year, including:
- Using innovative on-line tools to allow our current participants to continue their cross-community work,
- Planning and recruiting for the MEUS 2015-17 program, and
- Growing and strengthening our Legacy alumni program.
It is a huge disappointment that the violence is preventing our work from happening in the way we had hoped, but our commitment is unwavering. It takes enormous strength and courage to seek out other perspectives in a time of conflict. Together, we must strive to make the voices of our participants, alumni and facilitators heard. They are the voices of people who do not wish to perpetuate the cycle of hatred and violence, and are seeking a different path.
We will keep you updated as the year progresses.
The Building Bridges Staff
Amani, Amy, Deme, Erin, Jen, Jes, Mimi, Rawan, Tulie, and Yafa
and the Building Bridges Board of Directors