The Bridges Program is an initiative of Dreams Academy to build “Bridges” between high school students of different backgrounds and races. This idea stemmed from conversations held during the Akron Community Foundation’s “On The Table” event, where friends, acquaintances and other invited guests gather to discuss chosen topics, which in 2019, Dreams Academy hosted a conversation on Race.
We found that this topic is one that garners much attention among adults. We see conferences, conventions and even corporations focused on these discussions. Our question was has anyone considered conversations surrounding race with youth? Adults already have shaped perceptions and opinions and for many reasons but what if we got to young people early enough where we could show them to think critically and begin to shape thoughts and ideas about race earlier instead of later, what would that look like?
The Bridges Program will establish a diverse cohort of 12 rising seniors beginning in spring of 2021. Counselors from area high schools will recommend students that they believe are leaders and best suited to lend to this initiative. Chosen students will be required to commit to participating for their entire Senior year. Once the 12 students are chosen, they will meet for team building activities over the summer. The curriculum will begin in Fall of 2021 where they will meet for 8 sessions at varying locations and again for another 8 sessions in the spring of 2022. The curriculum has been designed by Disrupter University which is led by Dr. Erica Glover and Kenneth Smith, who will also serve as lead facilitators. They have created a plan that uses Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) to discuss themes and topics shown in the curriculum outline. The Fall Semester will focus on becoming aware of and seasoned learners of these topics. Spring Semester will focus on the students action steps as they will graduate high school and begin their next stages of life.
Students must attend a high school in Summit County. We are planning incentives for the students in the cohort in the form of scholarship and/or other possibilities. While in person would provide best results, we are also preparing to provide this program virtually, if necessary. In-person sessions will observe all CDC guidelines in regard to distancing and masks.
For further information, please send an email to Bridges@dreamsacademyakron.org
Bridges Fall Curriculum
Week 1: My Identity and Connection to the World
- Ethical Dilemmas
- Equity and Inclusion Defined
- Personal and Social Identity
Week 2: Race, Racism, and Me
- History of racism
Week 3: Historical and Institutionalized Racism
- Law and Policy
- Use of science and hierarchy to exclude
- Influence in the classroom when differences are apparent
Week 4:Exploring the American Dreams
- Influence on outcomes/opportunities
- Social status and influence/opportunities
- Racial disparities in education
Week 5: Becoming a Disrupter-in Theory
Weeks 6-8: Becoming a Disrupter- in Action
- Breakout sessions to research data on demographics in:
• Human Services
- Laws linked to outcomes
- Report out via developing a solution to speak up and speak out
• Non-profit to connect to resources
• For-profit to support opportunities
• Law/policy to address disparities
• Social media platform to bring light to issues, develop online community, and build network to educate others