Peninsula Bridge Overview
Target demographics: low-income middle school students in under-resourced communities of San Mateo county.
Geographic areas served: San Mateo County, CA
Programs: The overarching objectives of the Peninsula Bridge Program include the following:
- To prepare students for college preparatory classes, particularly Algebra I and college preparatory English;
- To educate students about life-long learning and the development of strong intellectual habits; and
- To develop self-esteem through academic and personal achievement.
Peninsula Bridge's signature summer academic program takes place at five independent schools on the San Francisco peninsula. Over 200 students are enrolled each summer. Every site hosts a full-day, five-week summer academic enrichment session on their campus from June to July. All sites emphasize Algebra readiness and reading/writing skills. Our curriculum for the summer is aligned with state content standards and is integrated with that of the students' public schools. All sites hire both public and private school teachers, and offer free meals to all participants. In addition, Peninsula Bridge offers some select year-round programming and a series of parent/family education training sessions to support the families of Peninsula Bridge students.
WHY DO WE NEED THE PENINSULA BRIDGE PROGRAM?
1. Low-income students with college aspirations are swimming against the tide.
In the 8th grade, the desire to go to college is about as high among low-income students as among their affluent classmates. Whereas nearly all of the latter will realize their aspirations, only about two-thirds of the former will do so. Intervention strategies to aid low-income students have to begin in the 5th and 6th grades, not on the eve of college attendance.
-Research Report from The College Board, Swimming Against the Tide: The Poor in American Higher Education, by Patrick T. Terenzini, Elena M. Bernal, Alberto F. Cabrera, Published: 2001
Unfortunately, many students in the communities that Peninsula Bridge serves are “tracked out” of college preparatory classes while they are still in middle school. Algebra I is frequently referred to as “the Gatekeeper Course” because enrolling in this class by 8th grade remains the most reliable predictor of future success in college. For seventeen years, Peninsula Bridge has been helping students from under-resourced communities successfully enroll and excel in college track courses in high school.
2. Parents of underserved students need more help and resources to get their children on the college track.
Parents are central players in the intergenerational legacies that are passed on and which shape children’s educational attainment. Low-SES (Socio-Economic Status) parents need more and better information earlier in their children’s lives about what is possible and available in the way of college attendance and financial aid.
-"Swimming Against the Tide: The Poor in American Higher Education,” by Patrick T. Terenzini, Elena M. Bernal, Alberto F. Cabrera, Published: 2001
Parents, some of whom may not have finished high school or attended college themselves, can also be overwhelmed by the academic and financial requirements of thier children’s education. Peninsula Bridge gives parents the information they need to help guide their children through middle school, high school, and ultimately the college application process.
3. With budget cuts for California public schools, private organizations must step up to the plate and offer additional academic resources and guidance.
Dwindling resources in the state of California will only increase the dramatic academic achievement gap that separates low-income and minority students from students being raised in high-income communities. Peninsula Bridge is a privately funded organization that is committed to easing the shortfalls created by an overburdened public school system.
Three things make Peninsula Bridge successful:
1. Committed students and their families
2. Outstanding public and independent schoolteachers
3. Access to premier educational resources and schools
This combination allows us to provide a program that is academically rich and challenging, prepares students for high school and ignites their love of learning.
Peninsula Bridge is a recognized educational institution within Silicon Valley, and is respected for the excellence and dedication of its staff and board members. Serving 26 children in its first year, Peninsula Bridge now serves more than 300 children and their families annually. Since its inception in 1989, the program has helped more than 3,000 low-income students reach their academic potential.
Peninsula Bridge was founded in 1989, as a partnership between a public school district (Ravenswood/East Palo Alto), an independent school (Sacred Heart Prep), and a local nonprofit organization (Boys and Girls Club). In its early years, the organization grew rapidly through the energy and leadership of its founder Les Dewitt, and was supported by a group of committed volunteers who hailed from independent schools on the Peninsula. This group of volunteers consisted of a number of respected community leaders, including Fran Arrillaga, Margaret Beltramo, Mary Floyd, Rosemary Hewlett, Penny Howell, Penny Meier, and Susan Myers.