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We Help Youth in Crisis.

New Chapter for The Bridge for Youth

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It is bittersweet to share the news that Michelle Basham has resigned as the Executive Director for The Bridge for Youth and her last day will be Friday, January 3rd. Since joining The Bridge in 2016, Michelle has driven positive organizational change, realigned program delivery to focus on the core mission of The Bridge and fostered financial stability for today and years to come. Since Michelle joined The Bridge for Youth in 2016 as our Executive Director, the organization has grown and evolved with the re-opening of 2200 Emerson as “Rita’s House,” opening “Marlene’s Place” and has built a strong and stable financial platform from which we have grown and will continue to grow and change to meet the needs of homeless youth.

Thank you Michelle for your leadership at The Bridge for Youth. Michelle is moving on to serve as the CEO/President for the YWCA of Minneapolis and we look forward to seeing her succeed in this new role. We will be hosting a going away reception for Michelle on Thursday, December 19th from 4:30 – 6:30pm at The Bridge, formal invitation to follow.

Our Board of Directors is working on a transition plan and search plan to identify the next leader of The Bridge for Youth. Given the tremendous growth and strengthening we have accomplished, we are well positioned to attract a strong and talented person to serve as the next Executive Director for The Bridge for Youth. Further information regarding our search process and timeline will be forthcoming over the next several weeks.


Kristine Oberg, Board Chair
The Bridge for Youth


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November is National Runaway Prevention Month, a public awareness campaign designed to “Shine a Light” on the experiences of runaway and homeless youth that too often remain invisible. It is also an opportunity to spotlight the resources available to support youth in crisis throughout the nation. As part of the campaign, individuals, organizations and communities across the nation are encouraged to work together to prevent youth homelessness.

Nightly in Minnesota, over 6,000 youth experience homelessness. These young people are not homeless by choice. The disparity between the available resources and the number of youth needing assistance is stunning. The latest Wilder Research survey showed a 10% increase in homelessness since 2015 and the highest number of homeless in the 30-year history of the study. Youth make up nearly half (46%) of the homeless population in Minnesota.

“Nationwide, more than 1.6 million young people are homeless on their own. Growing up is hard enough without having to face it alone and on the streets, vulnerable to predators and violence. November is National Runaway Prevention Month and as the Executive Director of the Bridge, I know that if we can intervene early and prevent youth from running away, we can prevent youth from joining the 1.6 million youth who are homeless. Please join me in re-tweeting, sharing, promoting and talking about this message and the importance of helping to prevent youth from running away. Raise your voice, raise awareness, raise the hope of a positive future for all youth.”

– Michelle Basham, Bridge for Youth, Executive Director

Since 1970, The Bridge for Youth has provided emergency shelter and other vital services for runaway and homeless youth. Open 24 hours a day, The Bridge is the only direct-access shelter for youth under 18 years old in the Twin Cities. At the core of all our programming is preventing and ending youth homelessness. The youth we serve have experienced significant disparities in securing their basic needs, from shelter and safety to health care and educational opportunity. Last year, 28% of youth seeking shelter at The Bridge had been hospitalized for mental health issues, 26% had inflicted self-harm, and 19% had attempted suicide. Over 75% of those served by The Bridge were youth of color.

About The Bridge for Youth:

The Bridge for Youth is a safe place for those with no one to turn to and nowhere to go. Founded in 1970, The Bridge for Youth serves homeless, runaway, and abandoned youth, ages 10-17. Services include a 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency and long term shelter, individual and family counseling, and weekly support groups.


Christina Woodlee, Associate Director


Welcome to Our Newest Board Members

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Earlier this year we were excited to welcome Cheniqua Johnson, Geoff Jones, Gloria Stamps-Smith, Inspector Amelia Huffman and Michael Lehan to our Board of Directors. Our new board members are providing diverse views and expertise that further our collective work at The Bridge for Youth.


Cheniqua Johnson was born and raised in Worthington, Minnesota. She is a first-generation, TRIO college graduate. She received her B.S. in family social science from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities College of Education and Human Development. Currently, she works as District Outreach Coordinator and Scheduler for the first African American Hennepin County Commissioner, Angela Conley. She has spent the last five years in public service having served as the Legislative Correspondent for the former Congressman, now Attorney General, Keith Ellison.





Geoff Jones is a veteran marketing communications professional, currently serving as Marketing and Communications Director for Minneapolis Community and Technical College. A Chicago native, Geoff relocated to Minnesota to attend Carleton College where he received his BA in Fine Arts, and stayed upon discovering the Twin Cities’ abundant career opportunities and rich performing arts community. His heart for working with youth is reflected in his tenure as a student club advisor for 12 years and as former board VP at Project Foundation (now Avenues for Homeless Youth).





Gloria Stamps-Smith is an attorney in the Hennepin county Attorney’s office where she has been for the last 25 years. She has practiced in the area of juvenile prosecution and spent the last eight years in Adult Services/Mental Health Court. Her concern for homeless youth are the direct product of the young people she encountered for many years as a juvenile prosecutor and in mental health court.







Inspector Amelia Huffman commands the 5th Precinct which encompasses the 20 neighborhoods in the southwest corner of the city, bounded by Interstate 35 W on the East, Interstate 94 on the North and the city limits on the West and South. Inspector Huffman has a long history with the 5th Precinct, working there in her first assignment as a patrol officer, as a member of the Community Response Team and as a shift lieutenant. She brings a wealth of experience to her role as a board member.




Michael Lehan is a graduate of Hopkins High School and attended the University of Minnesota, where he received his bachelor’s degree in Family Social Science. He is in his fifth year as Osseo Senior High’s principal and has quickly developed a reputation as a student-centered principal focused on strong leadership and innovation. He is extremely passionate about paying-it-forward to those who are facing the same types of challenges he encountered as an African American youth in foster care. Prior to his career as an educator, Lehan played professional football in the National Football League for six years. Most recently, Michael was named High School Principal of the Year for the Hennepin Division by the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP).


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Nightly in Minnesota, over 6,000 youth experience homelessness. These young people are not homeless by choice. Despite advances in legislation and societal attitudes, LGBTQ+ youth continue to be disproportionately represented among the homeless – with nearly 40% of homeless youth identifying as LGBTQ+. Currently, 23% of youth served at The Bridge self-identify as LGBTQ+ at intake (an increase of 3% from last year). This percentage also rises as youth feel safe disclosing later during service participation. Over 80% cite family conflict/household dynamics as a critical issue. LGBTQ+ youth in crisis need a safe place to stabilize and work through issues, especially youth who are not comfortable being out at home or school.

“The Bridge was founded on the idea that every youth deserves a safe place to be in times of crisis. Today we are proud to further our inclusion efforts specifically for LGBTQ+ homeless youth through enhanced program delivery, increased participation at community events like National Coming Out Day and leadership development for direct care staff.” – Michelle Basham, Executive Director

To meet increased numbers of LGBTQ+ youth turning to The Bridge, and to address the increasingly complex challenges they face, The Bridge was selected to be the recipient of multi-year funding from the United Way Arise Project to focus on preventing and ending LGBTQ+ youth homelessness. This funding will expand services with dedicated staff specifically for LGBTQ+ youth case management; promote LGBTQ+ youth leadership and continue to bring youth voice into LGBTQ+ program design; and increase the cultural competency of staff and volunteers in effectively meeting the needs of LGBTQ+ youth.

As a means to further inclusivity efforts aligned with program implementation as well as leadership development amongst direct care staff, The Bridge is proud to announce Warlance Miner, Diversity Specialist, was selected to participate in the American Express Leadership Academy. This highly competitive program is designed to equip high potential emerging leaders from the nonprofit sector to become successful executives. In partnership with the Stonewall Community Foundation, this year the Academy has invited participants specifically from organizations focused on LGBTQ+ issues.

“At the Bridge for Youth our vision is to serve as a premier resource for diverse populations of youth and families needing support. The American Express Leadership Academy is an opportunity to advance inclusion efforts for LGBTQ+ communities, nation-wide. As a Gay, Native American Man, I understand the fight for equality still continues and I intend to apply all knowledge gained to further provide resource for LGBTQ+ identifying youth.” – Warlance Miner, Diversity Specialist

About The Bridge for Youth
The Bridge for Youth is a safe place for those who no one to turn to and nowhere to go. Founded in 1970, The Bridge for Youth serves homeless, runaway, and abandoned youth, ages 10-17. Services include a 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency and long term shelter, youth and family counseling, and support groups.

Christina Woodlee, Associate Director

Photo: Warlance Miner at Quorum’s 2019 National Coming Out Day Luncheon

The Bridge is Expecting!

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Nightly in Minnesota, over 6,000 youth experience homelessness. These young people are not homeless by choice. Minnesota has fewer than 200 emergency shelter beds statewide for youth. This disparity between the need and the number of youth needing assistance is stunning.  More concerning is that more than one-third of these youth – over 2,000 – are pregnant or parenting, and in Minnesota there are less than 10 site-based units designated as age-appropriate and safe, specifically for homeless teen parents.

To address an urgent and growing need for housing for homeless pregnant and parenting youth, on April 1 2019, the Bridge will launch Marlene’s Place.  Once opened, Marlene’s Place will serve five  homeless pregnant and/or parenting youth ages sixteen up to twenty years old and their dependent children up until age three.

“Nearly 45% of homeless youth in Hennepin County are parenting and the Bridge is pleased to be opening the first site-based program in Hennepin County for parenting youth to respond to this overwhelming need.” – Michelle Basham, Bridge for Youth, Executive Director

Providing comprehensive programming – including housing, access to healthcare, parenting education, experiential life-skills coaching and education; Marlene’s Place will address the unique needs of homeless teen parents and their young children by providing a supportive environment that allows them to heal, learn, grow, and thrive.


About The Bridge for Youth

The Bridge for Youth is a safe place for those with no one to turn to and nowhere to go. Founded in 1970, The Bridge for Youth serves homeless, runaway, and abandoned youth, ages 10-17. Services include a 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency and long term shelter, youth and family counseling, and support groups.


Christina Woodlee, Associate Director


Welcome Michelle to our board!

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Michelle Richardson is the Program Operations Manager for Lifelong Learning at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  After fifteen years of retail and customer service management, Michelle decided to pursue her Masters of Business Administration and seek a career that supports youth engagement. While attending graduate school, Michelle worked as an assistant and software administrator for CommonBond Communities where she grew her passion for youth engagement as a volunteer Study Buddy. After graduation, she was able to combine her education, work experience and passion for youth engagement working within the STEM Equity and Education Division at the museum. Michelle is grateful for the opportunity to support youth engagement as a board member for the Bridge for Youth. When not spending time with family, Michelle considers herself somewhat of a thrill seeker and adrenaline enthusiast.

Meet Our New Board Member!

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Anne Rasmussen

Anne is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Temple Israel-Minneapolis, one of the ten largest synagogues in the United States. Through her work at Temple Israel, Anne enjoys contributing to the greater community by offering educational programs for all ages via award-winning instructors; addressing homelessness through Families Moving Forward and Bold Hope in the North; and positioning Temple as a space that celebrates people of color, people of all genders and gender expressions, interfaith families, and the LGBTQIA+ community. Prior to her work at Temple, Anne was the COO/CFO at James J. Hill Reference Library; she also has worked independently as a CPA. She holds an MBA from Metropolitan State University and a Bachelor’s from the University of Minnesota. When she’s not at Temple, Anne enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Welcome to Our Newest Board Members

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We are excited to welcome Jason Hertel and Bob Striker to our Board of Directors.

Jason Hertel
Jason is a Senior Director of Information Technology for BlueCross and BlueShield of Minnesota. In his role he leads the departments that provide innovative IT services and support for the company, ensuring that all who work for BlueCross can be as efficient and effective as possible by utilizing modern technology experiences and interactions. He began at BlueCross and BlueShield in 2012 and specifically sought to work there due to its strong mission to make a healthy difference in people’s lives and due to the strong presence BlueCross has in the community. Jason has been involved in the Twin Cities IT community for over 15 years in various leadership positions. Jason received his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with emphasis on Information Systems, and a minor in Communications Studies from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. Jason enjoys spending his personal time bicycling, running, traveling, walking his dog, Gus, and spending time with his family and friends.

Bob Striker
Bob is an attorney in the Minneapolis office of Stinson Leonard Street, LLP, where he practices in the area of real estate development and finance for clients primarily in the energy and transportation sectors. In addition to his service on the Bridge for Youth board, Bob volunteers for the Volunteer Lawyers Network and has served on the boards of other non-profit organizations. He has had an interest in issues related to housing and homelessness since working with the homeless in New York City in the early 1990s. Bob lives in St. Paul with his wife and two teenage boys and enjoys camping and biking.