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Building Bridges of Oklahoma becomes United Way initiative

Bartlesville Regional United Way announced that Building Bridges of Oklahoma has signed an agreement to become a United Way initiative.

Initiatives differ from agencies in that agencies receive only part of their funding from United Way and operate under their own 501(c)3. As an initiative, Building Bridges of Oklahoma will be fully funded by BRUW and operate under them.

“It is a very exciting time for Bartlesville,” Gina Elias, executive director of Building Bridges of Oklahoma, said. “The joining of Building Bridges with United Way is a monumental step for our community in addressing how to break the cycle of generational poverty. Building Bridges has led the nation over the past five years in successfully moving families towards self-sufficiency.  We are excited to share the same vision and mission as United Way and look forward to building stronger partnerships with organizations that will impact our community’s economic growth and overall quality of life.”

Building Bridges of Oklahoma’s mission is to initiate and motivate change to move people towards self-sufficiency in Bartlesville and the state of Oklahoma.

“Building Bridges of Oklahoma’s mission fits perfectly into what United Way is accomplishing locally,” CEO and Executive Director Jody Burch said. “We are advancing the common good through education, income and health, which are the building blocks of a successful life. Building Bridges will be a key piece of our focus on improving people’s income potential.”

As a United Way initiative, Bridge’s focus will be on helping people in poverty move to prosperity. They help people improve not only their “financial capital” but emotional and social capital, as well. Many people in poverty do not have a strong support system, which makes it harder for them to better their situation. Bridges provides mentors who come alongside them, building healthy relationships and offering support. Through Bridges, families work on an individual debt reduction plan and receive training sessions to strengthen their skill sets for job placement.

Bridges has already shown great results. On average, Building Bridges participants have shown an 85 percent increase in earned income  and had an average of a 53 percent increase in assets. Around 25 percent of them have reached self-sufficiency.

“We hope, with the help of United Way, that Building Bridges of Oklahoma will be able to make an even greater impact in the local community and the lives of individual families,” Burch said.