About Bridging Teams
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Bridging Team Intentions (or Goals):
Bridging Teams address the 11 Essential Resources (Bridges Out of Poverty, aha! process) required to overcome Poverty’s Tyranny of day-to-day crises. By creating a social network of middle-class mentors, under-resourced participants (or ‘Catalysts) expand their resources and supports to deal with poverty’s complex challenges.
Through stories, skills training, leadership, bridging the economic divide of poverty and privilege, and generating opportunities to “give back” through volunteer opportunities with community organizations, individuals gain clarity, grow in their understanding of the barriers surrounding economic hardship, and give one another ongoing support; and including other programs under the umbrella of Bridges Peterborough.
- Build a Team with food, fun, & stories.
- Support each under-resourced participant’s journey to a stable life (as prescribed through the Bridges Out of Poverty framework.
- Learn together about Poverty & its systemic barriers through growing access to our Community’s network of assets.
- Use Developmental Evaluation to track lessons for replication.
- Contribute to the growth of the Bridges Out of Poverty network in Peterborough, Ontario & North America.
Key Intended Learning Outcomes
- Encourage and facilitate learning opportunities that increase self awareness in relation to social injustice.
- Increase capacity in actively listening for interpersonal and structural messages that do not align with social justice principles and to alter these accordingly. Such messages, or myths might be "All poor people have to do is work hard and they will get ahead!" or, "Poor people and Indigenous people are obviously the bad guys here! Look at how many are in our jails!!"
- Think critically about factors contributing to poverty, (including the various "isms"), and how these can be sustained and reinforced through personal, community and structural factors
- Learn how to recognize when movement out of poverty is being hindered, at various micro and macro levels, and how to then support poverty experts in maneuvering beyond these barriers and further out of their poverty status.
- Developed Conflict Resolution procedure
The understanding here is that under-resourced participants who have taken the "Getting Ahead" course through Ontario Works, have been offered several choices in how to proceed next.
Bridging Teams would be included within these options.
The understanding regarding volunteers is that they have successfully completed all of the volunteer requirements necessary to participate within this volunteer training course. Should the training prove to not be a good fit between the volunteer and Bridging Team Group, then the volunteer may be advised to not participate within this Bridging Team program.
Bridging Team Program Design
Using the “Bridges Out of Poverty” framework, we orient two separate learning streams with the Under-resourced participants (‘Catalysts’) and middle class or resourced Mentors.
Two groups come together to meet weekly for three hours in a Bridging Team to cross cultural barriers, build community, and fight poverty.
In phase one we venture through the Getting Ahead workbook from aha! Process. In phase two we focused on building trust and forming the relationships - using our formula of food, fun, and storytelling - support circles were then formed as part of phase two. Two Mentors are “matched” with each of the Catalysts or under-resourced participants. We use the guiding principles around dignity, hospitality and curiosity.
Working from a 4-phase program over a minimum 12-month commitment, the Team was organized into three task groups that slowly took on the tasks of the staff facilitators (Hospitality, Programming, & Evaluation-chaplaincy).
Key to the process is the leadership of the under-resourced participants or Catalysts. They meet with staff facilitators monthly to design the month’s process. If interested, these participants are trained in an Internship program to become certified co-facilitators of future groups through the Aha!Process.
The Team is facilitated by certified staff for the first nine months of weekly meetings and the last phase focuses around the group's self-efficacy.
Using creative adult education practices, the Bridging Team has:
- Developed critical consciousness among all participants.
- Developed social skills and knowledge across socio-economic divisions.
- Raised public awareness and opened opportunities for advocacy among members.
- Demonstrated a methodology for people to identify solutions to their problems.
By far the most positive outcome of the work was the success in creating a safe, non-judgmental, space for mutual learning among people from different socio-economic cultures (or classes), and witnessing the shift in each person’s lens.
Our focus around Team-building includes three key elements:
- Food: every session included a meal first provided by staff, then shifting to a pot-luck sharing.
- Fun: The use of trust-building, adventure-based, activities created a common ground and bonded the team.
- Storytelling: Midway evaluations scored storytelling from each participant as a highlight. Every person answered five interview questions. The group passed a talking stick reflecting on what they valued in each person’s story.
This program is supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario.