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The mission of the Bridges Mentoring Program is to strengthen the self-esteem and social skills of children and youth by providing positive mentoring relationships at no cost to the youth or family.

  • Youth will have increased self-confidence

  • Youth will experience improved relationships in their school and community

  • Youth will experience improved personal relationships

  • Youth will be exposed to new experiences and opportunities

  • Parents will have an increased positive support system

  • Volunteer mentors will have peer and professional support


The Bridges Mentoring Program was organized through Lutheran Social Services in March of 1999.  With start-up funding from Mercy Medical Center and a private donor, a program coordinator was hired to oversee the program.  The program coordinator attended a training to learn how to implement an effective and safe program.  After compiling a training packet and necessary forms, the program was ready to recruit volunteers.  It was decided to take a community-by-community approach in building the program.  The Osage, IA school district was identified as the pilot project area.  Initially, an advisory board was formed in the community, composed of school personnel, ministers, a Chamber of Commerce member, community members, a police representative and a judicial system representative.  The individuals on the advisory board did the initial recruiting, which produced 75-80 interested individuals.  Training sessions were held in the community and 40 individuals and couples completed both training sessions and the screening process.  The same process of recruiting volunteers was then attempted in other communities in Hancock, and Floyd counties, but struggles and barriers were met.  It was decided to concentrate on Mitchell County and expand the program there.  Bridges began serving the St. Ansgar school district in 2000 and to the Riceville school district in 2004.

In October of 2004, Lutheran Social Services (now Lutheran Services in Iowa) went through a merger and restructuring and let Bridges go.  In December of 2004, the Bridges Mentoring Program joined the North Iowa Community Action Organization as a partner agency.  NICAO served as the fiscal agent until the end of 2017.


In 2018, Osage Community Daycare replaced NICAO as a partner agency to Bridges.  Osage Community Daycare provides staff supervision, liability insurance and acts as the fiscal agent for Bridges.  It is also the 501C3 organization of record for non-profit funding applications.  The Bridges Mentoring Program is funded entirely by grants and donations from individuals, churches, civic groups and businesses.



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