Main Campus

An Oasis in the Inner City

Since 1986, our main campus has served as an oasis of safety in the inner city at 8th and Pearl Streets, where some of Jacksonville's highest rates of poverty, teen pregnancy, and drop outs occur.

Lack of positive resources in inner city core neighborhoods is an overwhelming problem for at-risk youth. The time of the day for highest juvenile crime rates is after-school between 3 and 6 PM. Negative peer pressure, idle time, exposure to violence and hopelessness result in drug use, failure and crime. A 2007 JCCI study on violence recommended prevention through more positive activities and role models for youth.

Main Campus Programs

Latavious Smith: Setting Life Goals and Working for Them

With a big smile and an outgoing personality, Latavious Smith is a bright star from the BridgeWorks Program. He started attending The Bridge when his grandmother told him he needed a place that would help him do something with his life and get off of the streets.  

Through the BridgeWorks program, Latavious followed one of his interests  - preparing and serving food -with an internship at the catering/ events department at the community college. He got to cater events, prepare a menu and learn various cooking techniques. Because of his dedication and hard work, Latavious won the Most Outstanding Intern Award in 2008.  He chose to intern at the culinary college for a second summer in 2009.  

Summer of 2008, Latavious had another life changing experience. He was one of six Bridge students selected to attend the Youth Theological Initiative (YTI) at Emory University in Atlanta. YTI targets student leaders from all over the nation. The three week experience gave him opportunities to get to know teens from other backgrounds and to become more socially conscious. Part of the curriculum was community service and Latavious chose to work in a restaurant run by clients at a homeless shelter.  

With the direction and opportunities provided by The Bridge, now Latavious has a career goal and a passion: he wants to be a chef. He would like to open his own restaurant for the homeless. He graduated from high school and  is now a student at Florida State College – Jacksonville studying culinary arts and working in the culinary arts department.