Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth
Our Story Why We Exist
In 2013, we helped 11,528 immigrant youth and adults successfully integrate into Calgary. One of those individuals was Adel* and this is his story:
It was a warm sunny day in Iraq. Adel heard gun shots followed by screaming and panic. He ran out to find his mother, father and sister laying on the streets. His little sister died in his arms. It was the day he lost three family members due to rebel attacks on innocent civilians. Tears, anger, grief and shock overwhelmed this young teenager as he lay on the streets holding his family and crying. Nothing made any sense to this young boy and from that day forward, he knew his life had forever changed.
When Adel arrived in Canada as a refugee, he was nervous and afraid. All he knew in English was how to say his name. His teachers saw him as a teen with “behavioural issues.” After a year in our programs, this young boy overcame his fears and went from being shy, lonely and confused to a confident, popular student. He has even won a scholarship and his teachers now see him as an “ambassador for the school.”
Our programs improved his social skills and emotional well-being. We taught him the importance of helping those in need and he signed up as a mentor to immigrant youth who struggled like he once did. Today Adel wants to pursue an engineering degree because he believes “education is the key to ending violence and staying positive in life.” He feels he can accomplish this because of us.
We help thousands like Adel each day. We also help their families. Some come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds while some are average folks that need a firm foundation so they can realize their potential and strat contributing to Canadian society shortly after arriving to Calgary.
*The young boy's name has been changed to protect his privacy.
- We are the only immigrant serving agency with a daily presence in the public and Catholic school board reception centers thus making it easy to access our services.
- In 2013, we trained 60 youth to volunteer as peer mentors to newcomers in their schools.
- We delivered over 2000 hours of free academic support to help struggling students improve their grades and graduate from high-school.
- Our multi-lingual team can deliver support in over 20 languages.
- 100% of teachers surveyed reported a significant increase in newcomer engagement and involvement at school after students spent three months in our Mentorship Program.
- 100% of youth in our Afterschool Program reported greater personal motivation and imporvement in their leadership and self-confidence.
- We deliver over 100 workshops on topics like employment, housing, banking, health care, child care and safety.
- We partner with over 40 community agencies to offer referrals for housing, employment, food, shelter, clothing and other services.
Our Impact What We Do
We empower thousands of immigrant and newcomer youth and help them overcome emotional, cultural and socio-economic barriers. We teach them about Canada and Calgary’s culture and encourage active participation within the local community. Through workshops, individual support, mentorship and field trips we develop their personal, social and leadership skills. We also offer academic support to help ESL students improve their English and their grades, ensuring successful graduation from school.
We teach youth and families the basics of Canadian life – how to dress for Calgary’s winters, how to use public transportation, how to open a bank account, where to shop. Support is provided in a one-on-one and group setting. All our programs empower immigrants so they can succeed and give back to their new home—Canada.
OUR MISSION | The Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth engages immigrant youth and families to fulfill their potential in Canadian society.
OUR VISION | Bridging the journey to Canadian life.
OUR FOCUS | According to Stats Canada, Calgary’s visible minority population is expected to grow from 22 to 38% between 2006 and 2031. Many of these youth are new to Canada and experience loneliness, exclusion, racism, bullying, a confused self-identity, low self-esteem, etc. Our programs help these kids realize the potential that lies within each of us as human beings. Through a partnership with over 40 community agencies and both - the public and Catholic school board, we deliver support in schools, libraries or housing complexes with the highest need. We teach kids about adaptability, anti-bullying, self-empowerment, healthy friendships and positive behaviours. We also support newcomer families to they can establish a firm foundation that will help them accomplish their dreams and realize their potential. Through one-on-one meetings and group workshops we educate immigrants about local culture and traditions, employment laws, healthcare, parenting and more.
Our Programs How We Do It
We run four major programs: 1) Afterschool Program, 2) Mentorship Program, 3) In-School Settlement Program and 4) Rogers Youth Empowerment Program.
Through these programs we deliver one-on-one support, tutoring, guidance, workshops, field trips and hands-on learning activities to kids who have a difficult time integrating into their school and community. We also deliver programs right where the need is.
We are the first point of contact for any newcomer family looking to register their children in school. We have offices in the reception centers of the public and Catholic school board. This allows us to provide one-on-one support to newcomer families and to direct their children into programs that best suit their needs. We even meet with families at their homes during evenings and weekends.
All our youth programs occur within schools, libraries or housing complexes in economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods or communities with a high population of immigrants.We serve individuals who are most in need of services. By us reaching out to them, we eliminate barriers to access and have direct access to newcomers.
Our programs focus on building knowledge of Canada and Calgary’s culture and we tailor our support to youth and their families based on their background, experience, and level of need. Every interaction is meant to ease the journey to Canadian life for newcomers and immigrants. Below is an overview of all of our programming and you can learn more by selecting PROGRAMS on our website.
YOUTH SUPPORT | Adolescence tends to be a vulnerable time for youth but newcomers face additional challenges as they try to settle into a new city, a new school and a community with new values. Some experience fear, sadness, loneliness, aggression and even depression. At CBFY, we empower children by teaching them valuable social, emotional, academic and life skills. Youth are exposed to local culture and norms as they make friends and get matched with mentors.
FAMILY SUPPORT | When a family arrives to a new country they face a series of challenges. Everything from employment, learning English, or understanding health, transportation, banking and school systems can be daunting. At CBFY, we connect families to a staff member who is either from the same cultural background or speaks the newcomer’s native language. We create individualized plans to help the entire family successfully settle into the community.
SUMMER SUPPORT | Summer is a time for fun but it can be hard to find fun things to do if you’re new to the country. This is why CBFY hosts youth summer programs right within schools. We engage newcomers in healthy activities that help them explore Calgary while learning about Canadian culture.
Our Requests What You Can Do
You can make a difference! We often get asked, “What’s the best way to help?”
Our answer is simple: We need passionate people to spread awareness about the issues facing our young immigrant youths, then raise money to help solve them. So roll up your sleeves and use that laptop. It’s your most powerful tool!
You can also learn more about specific ways to help by selecting GET INVOLVED on our website. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking...
SPEAKER ZONE | Request a speaker to learn how we are building Calgary’s next generation of leaders. Speakers are available throughout the year to talk to employees, service clubs, volunteers and anyone interested in supporting us. Become a speaker if you would like to inspire our youth. If you are a successful leader with an immigrant background, we want to hear from you. A little inspiration can ease the journey for many of our city’s young newcomers and immigrants. Share your story and fuel the next generation of Canadians. Email email@example.com to turn that interest into action!
PLEDGE YOUR BIRTHDAY | What better way to celebrate your birthday than to have fun and help at the same time? Put the fun in fundraising by hosting a birthday party with a purpose. Invite family and friends to donate money of gifts to our charity so you can make your special day extra special by giving back. Whether you’re turning 17 or 47, there are tons of fun ways to make your next birthday one that people won’t forget. If you are ready to make your upcoming birthday an extra special one, email firstname.lastname@example.org for ideas and tips.
SCHOLARSHIPS | Many of the youth in our programs have simple dreams – to graduate from high school, join university, find work and give back to the country that has embraced them. Unfortunately, not all of them can financially support those dreams. You can change that! Your support will fulfill the dreams of students who have demonstrated academic achievement, leadership and community involvement. If you donate $1,000 or more you can create a legacy by naming your scholarship.