Founded in 1995, Bridge the Gap College Prep is a robust college preparatory and youth development organization that provides programming aimed at preparing Marin City students for college success.
Our Mission and Values
By providing a comprehensive after school college preparatory program, BTGCP will one day help all Marin City students be prepared for, choose to attend and successfully graduate from college.
Bridge the Gap College Prep seeks to provide comprehensive educational support for Marin City youth with the goal that every Marin City child completes high school and graduates from college.
- BTGCP believes that education is the greatest equalizer in closing achievement gaps.
- BTGCP instills an expectation of college completion throughout its programming.
- BTGCP collaborates with other organizations to support Marin City youth, so that together our collective impact is greater than that of any one organization.
- BTGCP believes that given the right support, all Marin City students can have the opportunity to go to and through college.
Based on in-depth research and nearly two decades of experience, BTGCP believes that the following elements are essential to helping Marin City youth achieve their college graduation goals:
- Rigorous college prep programming
- Clear student expectations
- Hands on, relevant curriculum
- Personal connection between students, teachers and mentors
- Community commitment to collectively support motivated students
Delivering these elements will enable BTGCP students to develop choices for their futures rather than succumb to predictable outcomes that too often plague many low-income families and youth.
Message from Our Co-Founder
Welcome to Bridge the Gap College Prep! In 1995, Pastor Fred Small had a vision to support the education of the youth in his congregation through a mentoring/tutoring program. He reached out to his friend Bob Hunter to help and in turn, Bob asked me to join them in their efforts to develop a community-based tutoring program with a strong focus on mentorship for Marin City youth. Our hope and belief was and is that Education can Change Lives and Change a Community. What began with six students and six Mentor-Tutors has grown into a robust After-school program for 1st through 12th grade students with two distinct program focus areas:
- An intensive college prep program for 4th through 12th graders
- An evening reading program for 1st through 3rd graders
Since our founding in 1995, I am proud that our enrollment has grown and today we serve nearly 130 students, or 40% of Marin City youth.
Our students come from a diverse landscape of needs. Our work begins as early as 1st grade, instilling the love of reading and the mindset that college is an expectation and an achievable goal. Throughout our students’ time with us, our programs focus on academics and age-appropriate youth development skills. Our teachers advocate for each student and the student’s family. The staff and I serve as facilitators, bridging the gap between home and school.
With our new Strategic Plan 2013-2016 just completed, the board and I are excited to be launching new program initiatives focused on preparing our students so that by the time they get to high school, they have the mental, emotional, social and of course academic skills to be on par with their peers from other school districts. With these skill sets in place, our students will be better prepared to apply, be accepted, attend and, complete college and become productive citizens and leaders, fulfilling our hope of changing a pattern of poverty in their lives and that of their community.
Our hope and belief was and is that education
can change lives and change a community.
We are a small but passionate organization. We thrive on the commitment of the volunteers involved to better the lives of youth in a community often separated from theirs by only one or two freeway exits, but is worlds apart in opportunity. I am grateful for the many Tutor-Mentors who have touched the lives of our children, providing consistent caring support and encouragement. Through the enduring dedication of our staff and volunteers, 80% of Bridge the Gap students have graduated from high school and of those, 60% are in college or have graduated. We have grown in leaps and bounds since our founding and we certainly could not have increased our reach to nearly 40% of Marin City youth if not for the financial investment from all the donors who believe in our work. From the smiling faces of our first graders when they greet their Mentor-Tutor, to a middle schooler who expresses that “BTGCP is like family”, to our seniors on their way to college, BTGCP students inspire us with their joy and willingness to work hard and do well. Coming to work and seeing the students fully engaged is like a little “slice of heaven” to me, our staff and volunteers. I invite you to come visit and peek into this side of paradise!
Our FoundersWe pay a special tribute to Co-Founder Pastor Fred Small who passed away on May 17, 2013. It was his desire to bridge the gap between Marin City youth and their schools that led to the founding of Bridge the Gap College Prep.
Together with Bob Hunter and Denni Brusseau, Pastor Fred Small opened the doors of his church to six Marin City students and paired them with six mentors. The founders’ vision to alleviate intergenerational poverty and crime and to change a community through education remains at the core of Bridge the Gap College Prep’s work. Through our After School Extended Learning Day and Evening Tutor Mentor programs, BTGCP has increased the academic performance of over 300 Marin City students in grades K-12, improving their literacy and math skills, self-esteem, and ability to succeed in high school and college.
Denni Locke Brusseau
Co-Founder and Executive Director, 1995-Present – ED since 1999
Denni has been leading the program since its inception in 1995. She has developed an academic support program specifically targeted to address the achievement gap of students in Marin City. Driven by her commitment to helping empower these children to become productive and self-fulfilled citizens, she has dedicated herself to providing the resources needed for these students to beat the odds, complete high school, go to college and graduate. Denni assumed the role of Executive Director in 1999. Denni is an integral part of the Marin City After School Providers’ Community; collaboration with aligned organizations to provide a holistic and integrated approach to supporting students is a core BTGCP value. Denni is an active, engaged and well respected leader among her peers and has over 30 years of business experience in retail management with Macy’s that she brings to her position as Executive Director. Denni was born and raised in Marin County.
B.A. UC Berkeley
Educational Director, February 2014 – Present
As Educational Director he will help lead Bridge the Gap College Prep’s program growth and development, and work closely with Sausalito/Marin City and Tamalpais Union High School Districts to coordinate and align Bridge The Gap College Prep program objectives for focused and effective student support overall.
Mr. Gilmore has lived and worked in the diverse communities of Santa Monica, Oakland, Houston, Seattle, and now lives in San Rafael, CA. He has been a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator in middle and high schools for more than 25 years.
Mr. Gilmore received his B.A. in Psychology from UCLA. In his last year at UCLA, he worked at the Fernald School, a laboratory school that worked with students with learning disabilities. This experience significantly influenced Alvin’s core beliefs about equity education. After taking a couple years off from formal schooling, Alvin enrolled in the USC School of Education and earned his MS in Education, with a specialty in counseling. His time at USC helped to ground his educational beliefs in a progressive and humanistic framework. He is also a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
B.A. Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles
Masters in Education, University of Southern California
Director of Development and Communications, September 2013 – Present
Tamaya has an extensive background in nonprofit management, policy advocacy and fundraising. She is a graduate of the Women’s Policy Institute of California, earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology from San Francisco State University and her Masters of Public Administration from the School of Public Affairs at Baruch, City University of New York. Tamaya is a Bay Area native. She was the Development Director for The Center for Young Women’s Development in San Francisco from 2006-2012 and a National Urban Fellow / Program Officer for The Miami Foundation during her graduate studies.
B.A. San Francisco State University
Masters in Public Administration, Baruch City University of New York