March 2, 2010

Introducing the BRIDGE guidebook

This is a guest post submitted by Natalie Kaplan and Lee Goldstein of George Washington University. Contact the BRIDGE project at

After 9/11 we were told that if we had only connected the dots, we might have stopped the attacks. If we had assembled the fragments of information we had, we would have put together a picture. The same is true in understanding poverty. We have to connect the dots among disparate problems faced by struggling families, problems that may not seem related, yet interact and reinforce and magnify one another.

So the concept of BRIDGE, to map the social services available in the Washington area, may give both providers and individuals a way of connecting the dots, of navigating among the varied agencies to address disparate problems. It can provide a gateway into the multiple forms of assistance that many families need.

-David Shipler
Pulitzer Prize Winning Author of The Working Poor
From food pantries and meal programs, to shelters, job training, health services, arts and recreation programs, community gardens, and overall case management, a wealth of non-profit organizations and service providers exist to serve DC citizens in need. But a disconnect often exists between knowledge and access to many of these invaluable services. The BRIDGE (Bridging Resources in D.C. to Guide and Educate) guidebook, a pocket-sized publication created by students in The George Washington University’s Human Services program, seeks to “bridge” these gaps between availability and access to the valuable social services throughout the District.

The BRIDGE guidebook, featuring 64 pages of information about over 550 social service sites throughout the District, is now available for service providers and individuals throughout the District of Columbia.

The BRIDGE Project started a little over a year ago as a serendipitous turn of events. Every year, the students from the George Washington University’s Human Services program help to run the University’s version of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. The weeklong slew of events includes a food drive, poetry slam, Hunger banquet, and culminates in students’ participation in Fannie Mae’s Help the Homeless Walkathon. During the Walkathon in November of 2008, Director and Professor of the Human Services Program, Honey Nashman, approached us with an idea to map the social services available throughout the city. We were given the unique opportunity to serve as teaching assistants and lead this newly formed class project aimed at mapping the social services available in the District of Columbia. We gladly accepted with little idea of how things would turn out, or how big the project would become.

Having worked with multiple organizations throughout our three plus years as Human Services majors at GW, we were able to quickly make contacts at Bread for the City, DC Central Kitchen, and their supporting network of social service providers: HAFA (Healthy and Affordable Food for All). With their guidance, and the foundation provided by the DC Food Finder, we worked with 13 students to collect information, update, and map over 550 service providing organizations throughout the D.C. area.

For more information, or to find out how you or your organization can request copies of the BRIDGE guidebook, please contact Natalie Kaplan and Lee Goldstein at Please visit our website to follow our BRIDGE BLOG and learn more about the current class’s work. From the website, you can view an electronic version of the BRIDGE guidebook and help us track our progress through the Distribution Feedback Form. Additionally, if you find listings that are no longer accurate, information that needs updating, or another site you think should be included, you can fill out the Site Update Form listed on the website as well.

Thank you for all you do to make Washington, D.C. a better community for its residents, and with your help we look forward to making the BRIDGE publication as useful a resource as possible!

Natalie Kaplan and Lee Goldstein of George Washington University

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