Summer Bridge serves a diverse and global community of entering undergraduates in a comprehensive six-week academic residential program. Bridge has grown 300% within the past three years. The 2015 cohort spoke 35 languages, came from 29 counties in California, represented 12 states, and hailed from 16 countries. Additionally, 71% of the 368 Bridge scholars were Pell grant and/or Dream Act eligible and 71% were the first in their families to attend college. The program is managed by the Student Learning Center. Campus partners from over 60 departments collaborate closely in planning and delivering the program each summer, including the Athletic Study Center, the Educational Opportunity Program, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, and Residential Programs.
The Summer Bridge Program was launched in 1973 as an academic orientation program for an inaugural cohort of 51 new freshmen. The students completed two eight-week summer courses designed to familiarize them with the rigor of University coursework, and they bolstered their understanding of campus support services and systems ahead of their freshman peers.
Over the next decade, faculty and administrators reaffirmed the critical role of the academic orientation provided by Bridge. Undergraduate Admissions, Residential Programs, Intercollegiate Athletics, the Disabled Students' Program, and the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office all became new partners with Bridge, which advanced the scope and quality of support mechanisms being provided.
Student demand also grew substantially, and from 1983 to 1997, the Bridge cohorts ranged between 175-250 students each summer. Course offerings were expanded and diversified, advising structures were further formalized, and a weekly seminar focusing on navigating campus resources was added. Concurrently, Bridge was restructured from an eight-week program to a six-week program, in keeping with similar institutions across the nation.
In the 1990's and early 2000's, student access to the University was impacted by dramatic shifts in state funding, admissions policies, and the quality of K-12 education. Bridge became especially critical during this time by ensuring that students who were admitted to Cal were provided a solid foundation for their academic, social and personal success. By the time Bridge celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2008, over 5,200 students had successfully completed the program.
Since 2011, Bridge has expanded on multiple fronts. New partnerships with over a dozen campus departments have enriched the web of support services provided during the six-week program. Renewed faculty involvement has inspired students to embrace their scholarly identity and actively engage in the intellectual and research communities at Cal. Course offerings have expanded further to include new classes in Chemistry, Education, English, Enviromental Science Policy & Management, Ethnic Studies, Geography, Psychology, and Public Health.
We currently enroll 400 students each summer from all five academic colleges and over 60 majors; from over 35 California counties, numerous U.S. states, and a dozen international countries, who represent more than 30 linguistic frames and over 70 ethnic backgrounds; and from prestigious scholarship programs, such as Berkeley Science Network, Gates Millennium, Incentive Awards, Intercollegiate Athletics, MasterCard Foundation, and Regents & Chancellor's Scholars.
We are actively planning to ensure that the Bridge 2016 cohort - our 44th - can leverage every opportunity available to realize their educational and professional dreams.
There are four key service components provided to scholars: the academic program, advising and counseling services, enrollment management, and residential services. Campus partners from over 40 departments collaborate closely in planning and delivering the program each summer.
• Student Learning Center
• Departments of African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicano Studies, College Writing, Education, English, Environmental Science, Policy & Management, Ethnic Studies, Geography, Mathematics, Psychology, and Statistics
Advising and Counseling Services
• Athletic Study Center
• Counseling and Psychological Services
• Educational Opportunity Program
• Incentive Awards Program
• Undergraduate Advising in the Colleges of Chemistry, Engineering, Environmental Design, Letters & Science, and Natural Resources
• Berkeley International Office
• Billing and Payment Services
• Cal 1 Card
• Cal Student Central
• Cal Student Store
• Financial Aid & Scholarships Office
• Intercollegiate Athletics
• Office of the Registrar
• Residence Affairs
• Summer Sessions
• Undergraduate Admissions
Contact for questions about program administration: Jamelia Carson, Summer Bridge Director
Bridge is fully funded through student fees assessed for summer session, housing and textbooks. The cost to students is then subsidized by need-based awards from the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office.
In addition, generous fundraising efforts provide supplementary grants for over 100 students each summer. Campus departments actively involved in fundraising for and/or providing these grants include:
• College of Chemistry
• Development Office, Undergraduate Education
• Incentive Awards Program
• Intercollegiate Athletics
• Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program
• Undocumented Student Program
Contact for questions about funding structure: Jamelia Carson, Summer Bridge Director
Since 1973, nearly seven thousand freshmen have completed Bridge prior to starting their fall semester at Berkeley, and have contributed to a rich legacy of scholarship and self-determination as they realize their academic and personal dreams through the University. Bridge alumni have gone on to become politicians, researchers, architects, teachers, doctors, athletes, engineers, health educators, and lawyers whose service to society reflects the values that they often solidified during their undergraduate tenure at Berkeley. Many continue to work with young people to encourage their academic, career and personal success, and in so doing, nurture the intellectual force of our future global leaders.
A list of notable alumni is currently being constructed. If you are a former Bridgee and would like to share your story, please send it to SLC Executive Director Cara Stanley.
Give to Bridge
If you are an alum, faculty member, staff member, parent or supporter of Bridge, you may give in support of the continued success of the program and its future student cohorts. Gifts can be of any amount, one-time or recurring, and can be connected to matching funds from many employers.
Gifts can be made through the Student Learning Center fund of the Give to Cal campaign. Under the special instruction section, please indicate that the gift should be designated specifically for Summer Bridg
Questions about giving to Bridge? Please contact SLC Executive Director Cara Stanley
Please scroll down to see what former Bridgees said about their experiences in Bridge. If you would like to contribute a testimonial, please send it to SLC Executive Director Cara Stanley.
Cal Basketball Press Conference (10/29/15): Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown Talk About Their 2015 Summer Bridge Experience
I love to write, read and act. But as a well-rounded student, I know I need to pursue other interests. Bridge pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me tremendously when it comes to math. It taught me about other cultures and prepared me to do a variety of things that I now utilize all the time at Cal.
-- Ally, Forestry & Natural Resources / English
-- Career interests: journalist, forester, writer
My academic passion is to further my understanding and teaching of high school level mathematics as well as comprehending higher-level mathematics. Bridge allowed me to see the beauty of mathematics even more through my coursework.
-- Andrés, Mathematics / Philosophy
-- Career interests: mathematics and education
I've always wanted to go to college and break out of my shell. Experiencing Bridge really helped me prepare myself for the academic rigor at Cal while having fun at the same time. My goal was to learn as much as possible in my four years and make an impact, no matter how small, in my Berkeley community as well as the one back home. Bridge helped me further this passion by introducing me to people that can guide me and give me options for taking risks at Cal that I never would have taken otherwise.
-- Cindy, Environmental Sciences / Public Health
-- Career interests: public health nurse, asthma educator
Bridge provided me a great transition from high school and taught me how to take full advantage of my college experience. It also showed me and exposed me to a group of amazing and diverse people who come from many different backgrounds, but nevertheless strive to succeed and achieve amazing things.
-- Eric, EECS / Nuclear Engineering
-- Career interests: grad school or utilities (e.g. PG&E)
My passion lies in addressing health disparities faced by communities like my own, working at the intersections among health care, public health, and justice, both globally and domestically, and possibly pursuing an M.D. or a Ph.D. in public health. Bridge was the first step I took toward accomplishing this goal. I did not always want to study medicine. In Bridge, I found counselors that would support this dream when it first occurred to me by providing resources and counseling advice.
-- Gardenia, Public Health
-- Career interests: medicine, public health
I have always been interested in furthering my education in both chemistry and Spanish long before Bridge. However, Bridge did allow me to differentiate between basic knowledge and higher learning. And it also motivated me strive harder and really embrace my areas of interest, for that is the only way you can be successful in them.
-- Hollie, Chemical Biology / Sociology
-- Career interests: research or pharmacy
My academic passions are in content that relates to my lived experiences and to those happening around me. I am very passionate about womyn, LGBTQ and immigrant issues. Bridge allowed me to discover that my lived experiences are valid, considered academic, and were being talked about. Bridge allowed me to feel empowered about my past and present, enabled me to interact with the most diverse group of students I had yet, and tested and pushed me beyond my self perceived potential.
-- Isabeth, American Studies
-- Career interests: PhD/MD focusing on womyn/LGBTQ health
I love all the fields in environmental design, especially architecture. I've always been fascinated by our built environment and how we interact with it. My time in Bridge allowed me to see many events with a critical yet optimistic eye, discovering new dimensions of what I had thought I knew all about. This excited me to see what various aspects of environmental design I could explore with that "new eye" Bridge introduced me to.
-- Leslie, Urban Studies
-- Career interests: structural renovation, historic preservation, architectural design
I am very interested in people, who they are, and what they think about. I think because Bridge was one of the only times in which I lived amongst peers who were very different from me in terms of background and belief, I was forced (in a good way) to meet with people who are different then me. My experience with Bridge only furthered my interest to learning about the human experience.
-- Mathijs, Anthropology
-- Career interests: historical and cultural research for film
I'm very interested in majoring in Cognitive Science. As an international student who's also a non-native speaker of English, I was a bit worried about the language barrier, not only socially, but more importantly in academics. However, the courses I took in Bridge helped me to identify my skills and work on strengthening them before I started my fall semester at Berkeley.
-- Reem, Cognitive Science
-- Career interests: education
Through Bridge, I realized my academic passion is for learning the tangible events and intangible structures that shape our society. My history class opened my eyes to new ways of examining history on multiple levels beyond that of chronological order, but to see certain events’ affect on society and their significance. It really expanded my perspective on whatever I read, recognizing that each event or action has both its own special significance and broader importance.
-- Spencer, Political Science
-- Career interests: diplomat, politician, journalist, lawyer
My academic passion coming into college was Gender and Women's Studies. Bridge allowed me to have the foundational tools to delve deeper into the subject. It also introduced me to new intersections such as race and sexuality that I was not versed with.
-- Stephany, Interdisciplinary Field Studies
-- Career interests: law
I am driven to learn more about people and our environment so that I can make a connection between them. Bridge exposed me to the diversity of our population and their dynamics. It also helped me connect to several people that I know can help me later on in life.
-- Xiong, Landscape Architecture
-- Career interests: sustainable design
From parents of scholars
We are very glad that we enrolled our daughter, Corinne, in Bridge. We were hesitant at first; we assumed that this program was designed for students who needed extra help to prepare them for the rigors of college life. Instead, we learned that this program was created to “bridge” the gap between high school and college, to help transition students from an education system where they knew the majority of the students and were very secure in knowing what their next step would be, to one of the largest and top universities in the world.
In the short six weeks that Cori was in the program, we saw a huge change in her. She became more confident, more mature, and most importantly to us parents, showed us that she can take care of herself. She met great people, people she might not have met otherwise, that have become her best friends. Although she was always a top student, the final grade is not as important as the road getting there. Bridge provided many resources to help our daughter and other Bridge students succeed. It is a great program to help students transition to real college life.
-- Teri and Evan, Alameda, CA
-- Parents of Corinne, sophomore in Molecular & Cell Biology
Bridge ayudó mucho a mi hija para que se familiarizara con todas las áreas de la Universidad. Todos los estudiantes son nuevos por lo tanto se sienten en más confianza y se identifican más entre ellos. Hacen amig@s y a la vez se preparan mentalmente al gran cambio. Cuando mi hija regresó a las clases en el otoño, ella ya no se miraba como nueva estudiante – ya se miraba con mucha confianza porque ya conocía el lugar, las reglas y a much@s estudiantes. Bridge es la transición de la casa a la Universidad, que igualmente sirve a los padres. Definitivamente creo que cada estudiante debería participar en Bridge para hacerle mucho más fácil el cambio.
Bridge greatly assisted my daughter to be familiar with all areas of the University. All the students are new and they end up feeling more confident and connected with each other. They make friends while also preparing themselves for the major change ahead. When my daughter started her fall classes, she no longer looked at herself as a new student – she had confidence because she knew the campus, the policies, and had already met many fellow students. Bridge provides a key transition from the home environment to the University that serves students and parents equally. I absolutely believe that every student should participate in Bridge to better facilitate their transition process.
-- Idalia, Salinas, CA
-- Mother of Gladys, junior in Mathematics
The programs offered through Bridge created a strong foundation of support. Our daughter learned who her mentors were and what academic resources are available. She received a lot of guidance regarding classes, developed more effective study and time management skills, and utilized the resources offered at the Student Learning Center. When she started school in the fall, she was prepared. Her first semester at Cal has been a very smooth and comfortable one for her. She is a more confident student because of Bridge and very enthusiastic about the opportunities offered at Cal!
Our daughter made a lot of friends through Bridge. She became familiar with campus housing and the surrounding area. Many of the close friends she has now are the people she met at Bridge. We attribute the smooth transition of starting school in the fall to what she learned at Bridge.
-- Kimberly and David, Morgan Hill, CA
-- Parents of Jasmine, sophomore in Molecular Environmental Biology
In Bridge, my daughter was placed in a math class and a history class. At first, she struggled because the way she was taught to study in high school was completely different from the way her professors expected her to study. Yet, at the end of the program, she was able to earn high grades in both of her classes. Through the tutoring sessions Bridge provided and the access to instructors, my daughter was able to correct her study methods, which allowed her to recover from her early struggles. From then on, she became more confident in her classes and was able to understand more of what her professors were teaching.
The best part was that, although my daughter always disliked math and struggled with it throughout high school, she came to love math and became very successful at it because of her Bridge professor. My daughter also made several wonderful friends at Bridge that she still meets every day. They not only became good friends, but also helped each other with their academic weaknesses. She often tells me that if not for Bridge, she would not have done as well as she had in the fall semester. My daughter learned how to become a lot more mature and proactive toward her academics.
-- Nancy, San Jose, CA
-- Mother of Shannon, sophomore in Chemistry