BridgeUP is a multi-year, multi-disciplinary after-school and summer educational program founded and based in New York City, with new branches in Houston and San Francisco. Our BridgeUP family includes specialized programs with unique goals: CORE, STEM, WELLNESS, FILM, and MENTAL HEALTH. At its core, BridgeUP is a place where passion and grit are celebrated.
But first, you need to meet helen and the outsiders.
HELEN GURLEY BROWN
Born in 1922 in Green Forest, Arkansas, Helen Gurley entered a world in financial freefall that held very few options for women. As a teenager, she moved to Los Angeles, and sent money back to her mother Cleo and her sister Mary in Arkansas for years.
Helen worked impossibly hard. She was a Mad-Men style secretary at firms in LA until her writing skills were recognized, and she was promoted to a copywriter -- one of the few female copywriters, and one who advanced quickly.
She stayed unmarried longer than most women of her generation, favoring independence and the grind of hard work. In 1959, when she was almost 40, Helen Gurley married David Brown, a partner who recognized and supported her talents.
David encouraged Helen to publish her first and bestselling book Sex and the Single Girl in 1962 -- soon followed by Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique.
Helen revitalized and remade Cosmo with phenomenal success as the chief editor for 32 years. Again, she was one of the few and earliest women in her position, and she took charge as a pioneer for women in journalism and publishing.
Here is Helen's story in her own words:
In Helen's later years, she came to be involved with other Hearst employees in a decade long project with 20 kids from the Bronx, called "The Outsiders Mentorship" Program.
BridgeUp has its roots in that program.
The idea was simple: could you take 20 middle-school boys gUIded by shared passion and create a holistic pipeline of support through college with the help of coaches, mentors, teachers and corporate partners?
And could you scale it across the country?
It was not an easy road. Two of the boys were taken away from their families, some had parents who lost jobs, couldn't find work, or ended up in prison. But having a consistent support system from The Outsiders' mentors helped the boys navigate a difficult environment. In the end, 18 of them went to college, many on full scholarships. Today, the boys are young professionals.
In 2012, The Outsiders and other professionals spent time brainstorming a way to create a lasting program that would impact the next generation of disadvantaged students and came up with the original structure for BridgeUp. The goal was to create a safe space after school-- a place for students to receive academic support-- but also a place where they could pursue their passions. BridgeUp was born.
Today, with help from Helen's foundation, BridgeUp has expanded from an after school program, to help bridge the gap in other areas as well. From working to address the gender gap in STEM fields, to bringing mental health and wellness support to lower income areas, and addressing inequities in access to education, Helen's legacy lives on and she continues to change the lives of generations to come.