Bridge Over Troubled Waters Announces $900,000 Strategic Investment Grant from Yawkey Foundation

November 30, 2021

The Strategic Investment Grant will increase the capacity and deepen the scope of Bridge’s critical “Pathways to Self-Sufficiency” programming

Boston, Mass. (November 29, 2021) – Bridge Over Troubled Waters (Bridge) today announced that it has received a multi-year, $900,000 grant from Yawkey Foundation to help strengthen Bridge’s foundation and help scale its “Pathway to Self-Sufficiency” programs that focus on youth development. This grant will allow Bridge to maintain its high quality programming while increasing program capacity, deepening the scope of individualized services for homeless and at-risk youth and also allow Bridge to update and renovate program spaces.

“We are extremely grateful for the Yawkey Foundation’s belief in the importance of supportive services for youth experiencing homelessness. By strengthening Bridge’s “Pathways to Self-Sufficiency” programming, this Strategic Investment Grant will help more youth conquer the life skills needed for independent living when moving into housing,” said Elisabeth Jackson, Chief Executive Officer of Bridge Over Troubled Waters. “This critical investment will have a life-long impact on vulnerable youth.”

The Yawkey Foundation Strategic Investment Grant will propel Bridge further toward its goal of ensuring each youth has the support they need for a successful adulthood. Over the next few years, Bridge plans significant updates to its programs and spaces: Bridge’s Counseling Program will shift to a more comprehensive and intensive Behavioral Health Program, providing specialized therapies and innovative interventions in a new Behavioral Health Center; Bridge’s Transitional Day Program will operate seven days per week instead of five, providing increased access to survival aid for youth and offering individualized case management and more life-skills workshops; and Bridge’s Education and Career Programs will increase individualized support, break down barriers to post-secondary and vocational opportunities, and prepare youth for employment in a new, technology-friendly center.

“Our Trustees recognize that Bridge Over Troubled Waters is at a critical inflection point in its strategic plans to meet the increased demand for services for homeless youth” said Maureen H. Bleday, Chief Executive Officer and Trustee. “Tom and Jean Yawkey cared deeply about youth encountering homelessness, mental health challenges and obstacles to academic success, and our Trustees believe that this investment to help Bridge dramatically increase its capacity to effectively scale their proven, life-changing programs would have strongly resonated with the Yawkeys if they were still with us today.”

“We are announcing this grant during National Homeless Youth Awareness Month because this is an important time to share information about the needs of and resources available to youth experiencing homelessness,” said Jackson. “But it’s also an important reminder that youth experience homelessness 365 days a year. We must continue this work and are extremely grateful for the Yawkey Foundation’s ongoing and increasing partnership.”

The challenges faced by youth continue to grow and have been compounded by the pandemic:

  • According to research conducted by the University of Chicago:
    • 1 in 13 youth between the ages of 13-25, estimated at more than 4 million, have experienced homelessness over a 12-month period
    • Black and African American youth have an 83 percent higher risk of becoming homeless
    • LGBTQ+ youth are 120 percent more likely to experience homelessness
  • 50 percent of youth who are homeless are unsheltered, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness
  • The prevalence of homelessness among people between the ages of 14 and 24 is growing, and many of the young people who become homeless are being both physically and sexually abused or exploited, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • Every year, Bridge provides services to 2,000 youth and between 70 and 80 percent of those youth have experienced trauma or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A recent survey of youth in Bridge’s Transitional Day Program shows:

  • 76 percent experienced abuse during childhood
  • 65 percent have been violently robbed on the streets
  • 51 percent witnessed domestic violence
  • 47 percent report severe to moderate depressive symptoms at intake
  • 59 percent aged out of foster care
  • 51 percent are employed
  • 28 percent are in high school or working on their high school equivalency test


About Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Bridge Over Troubled Waters, founded in 1970, is the largest agency in Greater Boston providing a full continuum of care to homeless, runaway and at-risk youth. Each year, Bridge serves more than 2,000 youth through a comprehensive range of survival, health, educational, career and housing programs in order to encourage the formation of a healthy, productive and fulfilling adulthood.  For more information, visit

About Yawkey Foundation

The Yawkey Foundation is dedicated to perpetuating the philanthropic legacy of Tom Yawkey and Jean Yawkey, whose eight decades of quiet generosity supported individuals and families in the communities that were closest to their hearts – Massachusetts and Georgetown County, South Carolina. Having awarded more than $500 million to-date in charitable grants to organizations focused on Health Care, Education, Human Services, Youth and Amateur Athletics, Arts and Culture, and Conservation and Wildlife, Yawkey Foundation is committed to preserving and sustaining the charitable values of the Yawkeys by investing in impactful nonprofits providing resources, opportunity, and dignity to the vulnerable and underserved. For more information, please visit, or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook for the latest announcements.


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