Bridges to Independence

EIN: 54-1368484

Mission Statement

The mission at Bridges is to guide children and families out of homelessness and into stability and self-sufficiency. 

Since 1985, Bridges to Independence has empowered 16,000 homeless children and families in Arlington. What began as a small shelter has grown into a multifaceted family and children services agency.


Program Summary

Bridges provides the following programs for children and families experiencing homelessness in Arlington:

  • Shelter: Bridges operates Arlington County’s largest emergency family shelter with approximately 50 beds across 15 apartment units and includes a 24-hour food pantry. The median length of stay is 90 days. 2 out of 3 shelter residents are children. 
  • Youth Development: The program transforms the lives of children. Activities include arts and crafts, tutoring, cooking, music, swim lessons, STEM workshops, and field trips.  The young people improve their grades, self-esteem, job readiness, and health. Staff find students internships in the field of their choice. For the last seven consecutive years, 100% of high school seniors at Bridges are graduating on time and will continue on to college, job training, employment, or most often, a combination of these.
  • Housing: Bridges provides rental assistance, housing placement support for families, and daily case management at the Rapid Rehousing program. Staff connect families to additional resources to access financial assistance, legal counseling, mental health services, and medical care. 
  • Community Services Center: Bridges offers a walk-in referral and information resource in South Arlington. Residents may meet regularly with a case manager. The Center offers health screenings, school supplies for students, and community classes on topics such as parenting, tenant rights, and nutrition. 
  • Workforce Development: Bridges provides seminars and counseling to transition working adults from minimum wage to a livable wage. The staff helps them find and maintain employment through partnerships with local businesses in Arlington while reducing barriers to employment, such as childcare, transportation, and professional certifications for workers to maintain employment and earn promotions.

Impact Statement

  • In 2023, Bridges served 634 children and adults experiencing homelessness in Arlington.
  • The Youth Development Program effectively reduced the school dropout rate for homeless students in Arlington. For the 7th consecutive year, 100% of high school seniors at Bridges are graduating on time and continuing on to college, job training, a career, or most often, a combination of these.
  • Bridges has a 90% success rate in moving families to permanent destinations who have been experiencing homelessness.
  • 7 in 10 adults eligible for employment had income at the time they exited the rapid rehousing program.
  • 92% of families remained permanently housed after exiting the rapid rehousing program.
  • 3 out of 4 families maintained or increased their household income upon exit of the Bridges rapid rehousing program.
  • 260 Arlington residents accessed referrals, resources, and services at the Bridges BAJ Community Services Center.
  • 0 families were removed from the shelter without a safe place to go. Staff ensure that all families move from the shelter into housing, and no family is ever thrown out and left on the streets

What ways can the public get involved?

  • Donate food: Bridges provides a food pantry at the emergency shelter for families.
  • Volunteer: Projects include gardening, tutoring, collecting supplies for our back-to-school donation drive or holiday toy drive, assembling Snack Sacks, and more!
  • Join a committee: Join the Bridges events, communications and advocacy, or fundraising committee.
  • Become a Board member.

How are charitable dollars spent? Where does my donation go?

  • $50- one pair of children’s sneakers
  • $100- GED or ESL course registration fee
  • $250- afterschool programming for one child
  • $500- one month of groceries for a family
  • $1,000- financial literacy and career workshops
  • $2,000- one month of rent for a family

Information provided May 2024