January 23, 2013

Weingart Foundation Grant to Support Expansion and Enhancement of Antioch University Los Angeles’ Bridge Program

Grant will allow Bridge Program to provide a free introduction to a college education to more low-income adults

Culver City, CA— January 23, 2012 – Antioch University Los Angeles’ Bridge Program, which provides a free introduction to a college education in the humanities to low-income adults in Los Angeles, has recently been awarded a $50,000 grant by the Weingart Foundation. Over the two-year period of the grant, the Bridge Program will add an additional student cohort to both its current Culver City and Boyle Heights locations – as well as one cohort in a new third location – expanding to serve 150 students. Bridge will also be enhanced by adding two new components: GED support and ongoing “post” program support.

“This grant will allow us to transform the lives of a number of disadvantaged individuals in our community who might never have dreamed of attending college,” says Luis Pedraja, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs of Antioch University Los Angeles. “Studies show that the median lifetime earning for individuals with some college is almost 20% higher than for those with just a high school degree and even higher if they can obtain a degree.  Beyond the opportunity to attain college credits, the Bridge Program provides a support structure that gives students the opportunity to achieve their dreams and make a greater contribution to society.”

While there are programs that offer job skills training for low-income adults, core curriculum college programs, especially for adults, are scarce. Research shows that higher education dramatically improves lifetime earnings. At the same time, access to education is increasingly difficult, as costs continue to rise. The Bridge Program aims to break through barriers such as these to help students access education. Bridge pays all necessary expenses including tuition, books, supplies even bus tokens and refreshments.

Students come to Bridge through community organizations from around Los Angeles including shelters, transitional residencies, adult day schools, and community centers. Rather than selecting participants based on past academic performance, Bridge recruits students based on a commitment to the learning community and a willingness to support classmates throughout the nine-months of the program. A Bridge class consists of 30 to 35 students of many ages and backgrounds from around the city. Classes include Philosophy, Literature, Art History, and Writing, as well as a service learning course, in which students study neighborhoods of Los Angeles before working with community members to design and implement a service learning project. Bridge students earn up to 15 college credits.

Bridge students also have access to AULA’s computer lab, library services, and tutoring each week. Many graduates of the program continue their education and earn associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, even master’s degrees. The Bridge Program was founded in 1999 by AULA alumna Shari Foos with Founding Director David Tripp, Ph.D. Since its inception, nearly 500 students have graduated from the Bridge program.

The Weingart Foundationsupports nonprofit organizations in the areas of health, human services and education, across seven Southern California counties including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, Ventura and San Diego. During the past thirty-nine years (1972-2011), the Foundation authorized grants of more than $910 million to support a variety of Southern California social services, educational, and community programs. With assets of approximately $718 million, the Foundation continues to be a major philanthropic institution serving the needs of Southern California.

Founded in 1951 by Ben and Stella Weingart, the Weingart Foundation is a private, nonprofit grantmaking foundation that seeks to build better communities by providing assistance to people in need, thereby helping them to lead more rewarding and productive lives. The Foundation gives highest priority to activities that provide greater access to people who are economically disadvantaged and underserved. Of particular interest to the Foundation are applications that specifically address the needs of low-income children and youth, older adults, and people affected by disabilities and homelessness.

About Antioch University Los Angeles

Antioch University Los Angeles (AULA) provides a rigorous progressive education to prepare students for the complexities of today’s diverse societies. AULA, a not-for-profit institution and part of the Antioch University system, has served the greater Los Angeles area for 40 years. The core values of social justice, service to the community and lifelong learning lie at the heart of the BA degree completion program and master’s degree programs in Organizational Management, Education and Teacher Credentialing, Psychology, Creative Writing, and Urban Sustainability.

Inspired by the work of pioneering educator Horace Mann, Antioch University provides learner-centered education to empower students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, economic, and environmental justice. With campuses in Keene, New Hampshire, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Seattle, and Yellow Springs, Ohio, Antioch University is a bold and enduring source of innovation in higher education. The University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. www.AntiochLA.edu