UMSL Bridge Program honored for impact on St. Louis communities

Saturday Academy participants

Eleventh-graders (from left) Zahriah Balentine of Hazelwood Central High School, Temperance Williamson of North Technical High School, and Patrick Morehouse of McCluer North High School are participants in the UMSL Bridge Program, which has been named a 2015 “What’s Right with the Region!” honoree. (Photo by Katlyn Sansone)

When FOCUS St. Louis considers the question of which organizations and individuals are making a difference in the region, the University of Missouri–St. Louis is among the answers.

UMSL’s Bridge Program for local high school students has been named one of the nonprofit’s 2015 “What’s Right with the Region!” honorees, who are nominated by members of the public and selected by a panel of community judges.

The Feb. 23 announcement listed the university’s precollegiate student services as one of four organizations in the “Promoting Stronger Communities” category. Joining the Bridge Program were Call for Help, Inc., Ferguson Youth Initiative and Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church – all recognized for work “to address problems, develop initiatives, or make lasting improvements that result in stronger, stable communities.”

UMSL Bridge Program Honored by FOCUS St. Louis

FOCUS St. Louis announced its 2015 “What’s Right with the Region!” honorees this week, including UMSL’s Bridge Program, which provides free precollegiate services to hundreds of St. Louis youth and their parents each year to help them prepare for college. (Image courtesy FOCUS St. Louis)

“This is terrific news and highly deserved recognition for our Bridge Program, which is now in its 29th year of service to local high school students and their families,” said UMSL Chancellor Tom George. “Each summer, fall and spring, our dedicated Bridge Program staff and faculty help hundreds in the St. Louis region make the challenging leap from high school to college and beyond. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Natissia Small, assistant dean of students and head of precollegiate programs at UMSL, noted that the Bridge Program has maintained a 100 percent college attendance rate among participating students and drew a record 900 applicants in the fall of 2014.

The free-of-charge program brings high school students to campus for an intensive, four-week-long Summer Academy in June and July and a Saturday Academy from October to March. Classroom, workshop and laboratory activities focus on science, math, interpersonal communication, ACT preparation, and personal and career development.

“We are honored to be part of such a distinguished recognition from FOCUS St. Louis,” Small said. “It is our intention to continue demonstrating effective college-access services with the collaborative efforts of the parents, campus faculty and staff, school administrators, community leaders, supportive donors and other key stakeholders. We will continue to advance the vision of the community served to promote and impact the lives of students who seek higher education.”

FOCUS St. Louis will recognize the UMSL Bridge Program and 19 other honorees at a May 7 celebration at the Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis.

Among the program’s many supporters are Express Scripts, Inc., Saigh Foundation, Norman J. Stupp Foundation, Enterprise Holdings Foundation, Ameren, Monsanto and Boeing Employees Community Fund.

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