News from campus and beyond

Bridges to a Brighter Future goes to Washington D.C.

Furman University’s Bridges to a Brighter Future was one of 20 programs nationwide invited to participate in the National Summer Learning Day Fair at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., on Friday, June 20.

First Lady Michelle Obama, as part of her Reach Higher initiative, attended the fair and toured student demonstrations and delivered remarks.

The event, co-hosted by the Department of Education and the National Summer Learning Association, brings together high school students and education leaders from across the country to highlight the critical role summer learning plays in preparing young people for successful college entry and completion.

Tobi Kinsell, director of Bridges to a Brighter Future, accompanied three of the program’s students to Washington, D.C., for the fair. The students, who displayed the work they did in last summer’s Bridges program, are Christian Monsolve, a Mauldin High School graduate who will attend Clemson University; Daniel Arnold, a Wade Hampton High graduate who will attend Erksine College; and Nevonne Burrell, a rising senior at Hillcrest High School.

Bridges is a college access and pre-college academic enrichment program for Greenville County high school students whose potential outdistances their circumstances. It engages students in a year?round, intensive seven-year, program that begins after ninth grade and ends at college graduation.

Students attend a four-week summer residential program on the Furman campus for three consecutive summers beginning in ninth grade. Bridges also hosts 10 “Saturday Colleges” for the students each year. A college transition and retention program, “Crossing the Bridge,” helps students enroll in college, stay in college and graduate.

Since Bridges began in 1997, 100 percent of the students have graduated from high school and 95 percent have enrolled in post-secondary education or the military.

The program has been recognized nationally for its outstanding work. It was cited in a 2012 national independent study, “A Blueprint for Success: Case Studies of Successful Pre-College Outreach Programs,” and it received the 2009 Excellence in Summer Learning Award from the National Center for Summer Learning.  It has also been featured in Essence Magazine and on the U.S. Department of Education television program, “Education News Parents Can Use.”

As part of the celebration on June 20, hundreds of cities and programs across the country hosted events to build awareness around the need for and benefits of high-quality summer learning programs. More information about National Summer Learning Day is available here.

For more information about Furman’s Bridges to a Brighter Future, contact Tobi Kinsell at 864-294-3135 or

Last updated June 19, 2014
Share This
Contact Us
Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director