A Bridge For Kids
When Michael and Tammy Nance went looking for a great cause to support, they simply couldn’t find the perfect fit.
“We knew we wanted to help kids in general,” says Michael. “We were hoping to donate money we’d put in a trust but nothing really tugged at our heartstrings.”
As the couple asked around in the community, a common theme began to emerge. Younger kids in need were getting help, especially around the holidays. But the older kids? Not so much.
“While not as cute and cuddly as some of the younger kids, teenagers consume more and receive less in terms of financial support,” says Michael. “So that’s the niche we decided to go after.”
Two years ago, the Nances founded A Bridge for Kids, which arranges sponsorships for teens in need. The nonprofit seeks to fill in the gaps, whether that means a new pair of cleats for soccer or funds to cover college applications.
“Our only criteria: Do they have financial need and are they a teenager?” says Michael.
“We tailor to each of the teens that send in an application,” says Tammy. “We ask them what they want to be when they grow up, what are their hopes and dreams?”
The Nances, who have two teenage kids of their own, were inspired in part by their sponsorship of several children in Africa through the years.
“We really like that one-on-one feel,” says Michael. “They’ll send us letters about their lives, and we see their report cards. We send them birthday cards. We really like the personal element of that sponsorship model.”
Whenever possible, A Bridge for Kids matches up teens to sponsors who share common interests or have experienced similar hardships. “We can’t always do that,” says Tammy. “Most people will take any teen with any want or need.”
When the Nances first started A Bridge for Kids, they had to get the word out, and spent a lot of time approaching charter schools, churches, youth programs, college prep programs, and refugee centers. Last month they received 12 applications.
“At the beginning, it would have taken us five months to get that many,” says Michael. “Some people said what we were doing seemed too good to be true. But then we’d help one kid and they’d spread the word.”
Laura Castro is a whip-smart 17-year-old at the Preuss School in La Jolla. A Bridge for Kids helped her purchase an advanced calculator that she needed for her calculus class. “And they helped me get a lacrosse stick and pay for league fees,” says Castro, who hopes to attend UC San Diego. “I want to keep playing lacrosse in college.”
A Bridge for Kids — which is hosting a big casino-themed fundraiser on October 12 at La Jolla Country Club — isn’t about welfare. “We don’t believe in that,” says Michael. ”We want to help teens with the most untapped potential, kids who want more for their lives but lack the financial resources.” (858.312.3150, www.abridgeforkids.org) ANNAMARIA STEPHENS