In 1989 a group of local community leaders came together with a shared vision of equal educational access for all motivated children who had a desire to succeed in school. This initial vision was the catalyst for the founding of Peninsula Bridge.
Peninsula Bridge offered its first intensive academic, five-week, summer program at the Sacred Heart School in June of 1990. The first class included 26 middle school students from the Ravenswood School District. Sacred Heart provided free campus access, and we in turn provided a tuition-free program for our students. Enrollment has increased from our original 26 students to over 600 committed and motivated students today.
The first board of directors convened in 1993 with Fran Arrillaga, Margaret Beltramo, Les DeWitt, Mary Floyd, Rosemary Hewlett, Penny Howell and Penny Meier; and in 1994, Peninsula Bridge became incorporated. For the next several years Peninsula Bridge focused primarily on addressing summer learning loss for low-income middle school students in grades 5 - 8 by offering a five-week academic summer program. However, despite being better prepared for high school than their peers, only 40% of Peninsula Bridge high school seniors were enrolling in four-year universities. It was determined in 2014 that extra academic and personal support would be integrated into all areas of the program from middle school through college.
In 2015 our Board of Directors approved a strategic plan in an effort to better prepare students to successfully graduate from high school ready for college. This new plan included academic programming throughout the school year, rather than only during the summer; expanded support throughout high school and college; and a focus, not only on academic learning, but on social emotional development. We projected that the number of students enrolled will increase from 600 in 2018 to nearly 1,000 in 2022. You can read more about our Strategic Plan here
In furtherance of this plan, Peninsula Bridge merged with local nonprofit Building Futures Now (BFN) in order to maximize our impact on the Peninsula’s lower-income students. Founded in 1992, Building Futures Now provided academic enrichment and support to 72 low-income elementary school students in east Menlo Park’s Flood School. Of those original 72 students, 100% graduated from high school and 70% graduated from four-year colleges. In 2008, BFN modified its program to a model similar to that of Peninsula Bridge's, enrolling an annual cohort of 15 fourth grade students and supporting them through high school and into college. BFN served 95 students in 4th through 12th grades annually. As a result of the merger 78% of BFN students matriculated into the Peninsula Bridge cohort and are thriving, we successfully integrated a Director of Student Support and Services for our Middle School program, three BFN board members were added to the Peninsula Bridge board, and a significant number of major funders continues to support the new combined organization.