The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges (OFIC) Bridges Program connects urban youth in the major cities of Ohio with the higher education community by collaborating with churches, faith-based networks, local school systems and OFIC member institutions to assist students in forming and realizing their dreams of college attendance. The Bridges Program strives to change the view that many urban students have of college – an unrealistic and unattainable goal that is available only to students from privileged backgrounds.

Ohio loses too much of the human capital of talented urban youth to this mindset. This erodes the economic base of our state and, more importantly, prevents individuals from attaining their full potential.


Bridges works with youth within the environment of their local school systems and faith communities – “safe havens” from urban pressures. Using the supportive and affirming environment of the students’ teachers, pastors, and other adults of influence in their lives, the Bridges Program seeks to establish for these students a vision of higher education that is desirable and attainable.

The Bridges Program continues to engage students after the initial seminars by providing further sessions that help them transition into higher education. All sessions involve presenters who serve as successful role models who can help the students create a vision for their futures.

Participating Colleges

OFIC collaborates with many of its member colleges and universities to leverage the strong and long-standing campus connections between OFIC member institutions and faith networks/high schools.

Baldwin Wallace University 
Heidelberg University 
Hiram College 
John Carroll University 

Kenyon College 
Notre Dame College 
Oberlin College 
Ohio Northern University

Ohio Wesleyan University 
Ursuline College 
Walsh University

Financial Aid

Students who complete the Bridges Program are eligible for significant financial aid packages at select OFIC member colleges. Depending upon the number of Bridges program sessions completed by the students and other specific criteria, annual aid packages may range from $1,000 to $10,000.


Did you know that the lifetime earning of a four-year college graduate is approximately five times that of a high school drop-out?
-US Census

Bridges Program: College Readiness Curriculum

The Bridges Program curriculum is a four-year program that begins in the freshman year of high school. A total of eight seminars are offered to students within these four years. The purpose of the seminars is to help students gain personal awareness and understanding of the need for higher education. Students are actively engaged in experiential learning activities that challenge them to blend academic, social and interpersonal skills that are so important in working and living in a multi-cultural and urban environment. These seminars are combined with college “readiness” workshops. The curriculum sequence for the Bridges Program is:

Session #1 Fall – Year One
Seminar: Creative Problem-Solving 

Session # 2 Spring – Year One
Seminar: Interpersonal Communication Skills

Session #3 Fall -- Year Two
Seminar: Effective Questioning 

Session #4 Spring – Year Two
Seminar: Planning Your Financial Future 

Session #5 Fall – Year Three
Seminar: Arranged College Visit 

Session #6 Spring – Year Three
Seminar: Effective Leadership and Mentoring

Session #7 Fall – Year Four
Seminar: Decision-making 

Session #8 Spring – Year Four
Seminar: Time Management and Goals