Giving Joy to Youth in Need

Prime Together Foundation helps The Bridge for Youth provide the basics and beyond

August 17, 2022

Who is the face of homelessness? One might think of a person on the street holding a sign, but there are youth who walk among us experiencing homelessness every day.

According to Wilder Research, there are more than 6,000 youth experiencing homelessness on any given night in Minnesota. These youth experience significant disparities in securing their basic needs, and the effects of trauma from experiencing poverty, homelessness, racism, and homophobia are widespread. Untreated, this trauma can lead to mental health issues, juvenile crime and/or substance abuse.

Further, 35% – over 2,000 youth in Minnesota – are pregnant or parenting. Parenting is challenging in the best of circumstances, but for teen parents experiencing homelessness, the difficulties facing them can be overwhelming.

Enter The Bridge for Youth, the only emergency shelter in Minnesota, and the only site-based transitional living program in Hennepin County specifically for teen parents and their children who are experiencing homelessness.

“Youth experiencing homelessness are operating in survival mode,” said Christina Heineken Woodlee, senior director of strategy and partnerships at The Bridge for Youth. “They are often in unsafe situations with their children because it’s the only option. Prime Together Foundation’s grant helps us meet the acute needs of pregnant and parenting youth and go beyond meeting their basic needs to provide small things that make a big difference.”

The ordinary becomes extraordinary.

For youth at The Bridge, having new shoes or a backpack to start school is a luxury. The Bridge finds small ways to create a little joy – providing the kinds of things many people take for granted – from a teen’s own blanket to a stress ball for relaxation or even a “smash cake” to celebrate their 1-year-old’s birthday. That little bit of joy is crucial to helping them work through trauma.

Erin Feigal, Prime Therapeutics chief human resources officer and Prime Together Foundation board chair, said, “In its first year of giving the Foundation is proud to extend the reach of The Bridge for Youth in our community. With this grant, the Foundation plays a part in helping to disrupt the intergenerational cycle of homelessness.”

Woodlee continued, “Addressing youth homelessness is a growing need – one we need to talk more about so it doesn’t remain hidden. There’s a web of causes creating this need, and it’s imperative we address them together.”

In addition to serving pregnant and parenting teens, The Bridge for Youth meets the unique needs of youth who identify as BIPOC, and/or LGBTQ+, and those experiencing trauma and/or mental health challenges.

A donation to The Bridge for Youth will help deliver intervention that can help break the intergenerational cycle of poverty and instability by keeping youth out of the adult homeless system and reuniting families whenever possible. To learn more about programs serving thousands of youths, including mobile outreach with local school districts, events and volunteer opportunities, visit bridgeforyouth.org.

Click here to see how lives are transformed at The Bridge for Youth, including Tori’s story. Tori found the support and basic needs she and her daughter needed.

As she nears graduating high school with two internships planned, Tori is thinking about starting college. In her own words, “The Bridge genuinely wants to see everyone succeed. Just put your trust in The Bridge, and it will take you a long way.”

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