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December 4, 2021
Bridge Over Troubled Waters Gets Largest Donation: $2.5M
Bridge Over Troubled Waters

October 7, 2021 — Bridge Over Troubled Waters, a Boston nonprofit that provides a range of services to homeless, runaway, and at-risk youth, on Tuesday announced it received a $2.5 million grant from the Liberty Mutual Foundation, the largest donation it has gotten in its 51-year history.

“We are so grateful to Liberty Mutual for its investment in our comprehensive approach to helping vulnerable young people experiencing homelessness,” said Elisabeth Jackson, chief executive officer of Bridge Over Troubled Waters. “Liberty Mutual has been a decades-long partner in this work and we are extremely grateful for their continued leadership and commitment as we strengthen the agency, expand our programs and deepen the scope of our services.”

The organization said the donation, to be provided over five years, will help Bridge address pre-existing infrastructure needs and organizational capacity as it scales to meet the increasing needs of youth.

Additionally, it will help Bridge expand its co-operative supportive housing model that allows young people an opportunity to live independently while assisting them in building the financial resources to find an apartment in the region. It also will support Bridge’s efforts to raise awareness of the challenges faced by youth experiencing homelessness and the need for additional service support.

“The challenges vulnerable youth and young adults face are complex and there is no one-size-fits-all solution,” said Jackson. “For over 50 years, our model has incorporated a comprehensive and individualized approach to our work with youth experiencing homelessness, understanding that young people are best served when all aspects of youth development are addressed.”

According to Bridge, research shows that Black and African American youth have an 83% higher risk of becoming homeless, while LGBTQ+ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness. In addition, 50% of youth who are homeless are unsheltered.

The prevalence of homelessness among people between the ages of 14 and 24 is growing, Bridge said, with many of the young people who become homeless being physically and sexually abused or exploited. Between 70% and 80% of the youth that Bridge works with have experienced trauma or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Bridge traces its roots to the 1960s when members of the order of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Boston, began reaching out to disaffected, troubled, and often drug-involved youth on the Boston Common and in Cambridge.

The organization was established in 1970, initially providing a volunteer-run, mobile medical van to bring emergency and preventive health care to the streets, in what proved to be the forefront of a national movement to develop innovative programs and practices to reach the most vulnerable, high-risk youth.

For the year ending June 30, 2019, Bridge Over Troubled Waters reported $5.59 million in revenue, all of which came from contributions and grants, and $5.78 million in expenses, according to its most recently available federal financial information filing.

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