About Bridging Teams

Bridging Teams are groups of about 15-20 participants meeting weekly for one year to share in food, fun, & storytelling.
Teams are made up of people living in poverty (also called under-resourced or catalysts), and mentors, who are often middle-income and may or may not have lived experience in poverty. 

A Bridging Team is a group of connected people, learning from one another towards a more stable life.

Bridges Peterborough has been offering the Bridging Team program since 2016.

Spring 2023 - Two New Bridging Teams

Experience meeting other people who want to make a difference - those who are problem solvers - who are tired of feeling stuck and want to make some changes.

Bridging Artists Team

First meeting on: Monday, March 6th, 2023

Time: 5:00 - 8:00 pm 

Location: Peterborough Library, 345 Aylmer Street (in the multi-purpose room)

Take part in a process of discovery using Bridges proven core of food, fun and storytelling!"

What do I need to stabilize my situation - so I can put more energy into my creative pursuits?"

In a Bridging Team, mentors with resources to share walk with under-resourced artists in a weekly small group study process to grow community resiliency.

Get in touch with the 2023 Bridging Artists Facilitators:



Getting Out Team

Meeting Time/Date/Details: TBC

Getting Ahead While Getting Out adapts the Getting Ahead program from Aha!Process for a group of catalysts that are being released from prison.

The initial Getting Ahead program will be facilitated with a group of recently released people. This Bridging Team is looking for mentors with strong empathy and ability to walk alongside this group of catalysts with a non-judgemental attitude and willingness to learn.

Get in touch with the 2023 Getting Out Facilitators:




Is It Right For You?

Engage with past members and facilitators for an hour of discovery into what it’s like to be part of a Bridging Team!

Information sessions held monthly!

The 2022 Bridging Team has been journeying together in a process of mutual learning for well over a year now. Engaging in the last year and in the sharing of food, fun and storytelling has created lifelong connections that will endure past the end of the team.
As that Team winds down, under-resourced graduates (Catalysts) from the 2021/22 team will be going on to facilitate the next teams in early Spring 2023.
We've been hosting information sessions monthly to find Mentors who will passionately volunteer their time to journey alongside a new group of Catalysts in the Fall.
If this sounds like something you are interested in, but aren’t sure about what being a mentor looks like, we have some information about what makes a good mentor, what a mentor does and what a mentor does not do created by our Catalysts.
What makes a good Mentor?
  • A mentor is a good listener. Someone who is able to make others feel heard and reflect back what someone says to show they are paying attention, rather than adding their own experiences, judgements and solutions.
  • Openness to learning and changing perspectives. Many mentors come into the Bridging Team process with their own ideas about what causes poverty and how to “solve poverty”. A good mentor is someone who is willing to put those ideas aside and learn alongside and from “poverty experts”, people who have experienced poverty firsthand.
  • The ability to empower others. You are able to inspire others as they move through a process of self-discovery, develop their own tools and resources to solve their problems and take charge of their own lives.
  • The Bridging Team process is Catalyst led. As the Team moves through phases of the process the catalysts take ownership of meeting their own goals and structuring the content of meetings. A good mentor will be able to take a back seat and allow Catalysts to develop their leadership skills.
  • A strong sense of curiosity, while respecting the dignity of others. Asking good questions makes a good mentor. Curiosity is how we get to know people as unique individuals instead of relying on our assumptions of who people are.



What a Mentor is NOT:

  • A mentor is not a bank account, an ATM, a taxi, or a Counsellor.
  • A mentor is not there to “fix” people or solve their problems for them, but rather to support people in coming up with their own solutions.
  • Mentors should not have their own agendas and should not pressure people in their decision making and goal setting processes.
Mentor Event Flier

Bridging Teams can create broader social networks across economic class lines, improve attitudes, open social and economic doors, and change the conversation about poverty.

Click on the Bridging Team pictures below to check out our videos.


Ready to Join?

Register with us to volunteer, to support our efforts, and join a team.

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.

Our Intentions:

  • Build a Team with food, fun, & stories.
  • Support each under-resourced participant’s journey to a stable life (as prescribed through the Bridging Poverty & Privilege 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 Bridging Poverty & Privilege network in Peterborough, Ontario & beyond.

When asked the question, how the Bridging Team Group see themselves as — 

We are a group of people who....

"Who believe that building resources, there is a way out of poverty."

"Who have grown together, removed "class" barriers, love and support each other!"

" Who believe social capital needs to be built and expanded."

" believe that People in poverty are problem-solvers."

"We are a group of leaders, learning, sharing, and spreading our wings soaring to new heights."

"Have learned from and taught each other about our differences and our similarities - basically the same but unique."

"Would love to help people get our of poverty and stabilize their lives."

"Support one another in mutuality, mutual caring, sharing, learning, laughing, loving, and eating with each other."

"We are a group of people who have become family and friends."

"We are a group of people who love community building, love meeting others who have different yet in some ways same histories."

Key Intended Learning Outcomes

  1. Encourage and facilitate learning opportunities that increase self awareness in relation to social injustice.
  2. 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!!"
  3. 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
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.

Peer support word cloud concept

Bridging Team Program Design

Using the Bridging Poverty & Privilege 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 to twelve months of weekly meetings as 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.  
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This program is supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario.