Introducing BridgeUp:Wellness at Menninger

The Houston branch of BridgeUp:Wellness prioritizes social and emotional learning in the greater Houston area. BridgeUp and Menninger both recognize that wellness and success for youth, particularly underserved children and adolescents, require attention on the whole student, beyond academic support.

“So often programs focus on academics without impacting the overall well-being of youth. I’m excited that BridgeUp at Menninger will leverage Menninger’s wealth of mental health expertise to create a model for after-school programs that provide a bridge-up for at-risk youth,” says BridgeUp at Menninger Program Director Dr. Patricia Gail Bray.

With this bridge and collaboration in mind, BridgeUp and Menninger joined forces early in 2016. On May 26, 2016, BridgeUp at Menninger launched with the mission to integrate mental health and social and emotional learning into after-school programs.

In the months leading up to the launch, many programs focused on the youth of greater Houston submitted proposals on how they would include new social and emotional learning initiatives, or strengthen existing wellness programs, with the help of a BridgeUp Magic Grant. At the launch in May, program director Dr. Patricia Gail Bray announced seven different Magic Grant award winners, with a total of $1 million in grants awarded.

Below is a list of Magic Grant recipients who will use their Magic Grants over the 2016-2017 school year, along with the vision of each initiative. In total over the next school year, BridgeUp at Menninger will impact 1,400 students in 28 locations in and around Houston. The Connect to Character and Kashmere Community Magic Grants are larger initiatives, intended to help improve and strengthen how BridgeUp at Menninger functions and succeeds in future years.

Connect to Character After-School and Summer Program - Four best-in-class organizations – KIPP Houston Public Schools, Legacy Community Health, YMCA of Greater Houston and St. Luke’s United Methodist Church – are coming together to provide a rich after-school program focused on health and social and emotional learning for KIPP CONNECT sixth- and seventh-grade students in the Gulfton/Sharpstown area.

Kashmere Community BridgeUp Model - ProUnitas, Inc. and Mental Health America of Greater Houston are partnering with the Kashmere Community Council to deliver after-school programming that includes recommendations from the Harris County School Behavioral Health Initiative, such as support groups, training, and mentoring. The program will benefit students and teachers at Key Middle School and Kashmere High School.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Houston - The Spring Branch Club, together with the Spring Branch Family Development Center, serves 1,100 youth annually from eight schools in the Spring Branch area. They will incorporate service opportunities as well as social and emotional learning components into their after-school programming.

Breakthrough Houston - In partnership with St. John’s School and Episcopal High School, Breakthrough Houston offers high-potential middle-school students from Houston ISD a rigorous year-round academic and lifestyle program. They will integrate a stronger focus on social and emotional learning into out-of-school and summer programs.

Pasadena Independent School District - The Pasadena Magic project will expand staff training and a tiered intervention program on social and emotional learning and mental health offered during after-school programs at Miller, Parkview, San Jacinto and Jackson Intermediate Schools, and Dobie and Sam Rayburn High Schools.

Project GRAD Houston - Project GRAD has a long-standing partnership with The Alley Theatre to provide arts programming to at-risk youth in the Greater Houston area. They will incorporate social and emotional competencies into their personal narrative and storytelling program for youth. The curriculum will also be integrated into its programs for instructors and mentors.

Workshop Houston - In collaboration with ArtSpace and the Houston Community College Media Arts & Technology Center of Excellence, Workshop Houston will offer increased access to mentors, arts education and arts therapy during after-school hours to middle- and high-school youth in the Third Ward.

Jacqueline Flores