Message from Co-Founder

Denni and KidsWelcome 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.

Our hope and belief was and is that education
can change lives and change a community.

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.

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!

Yours truly,
Denni-Signature-Jan2013 copy

Denni Brusseau

Co-Founder

PastorFredSmall-profileWe 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.

For well over a decade, BTGCP operated as an entirely volunteer-driven community based organization. To support substantial program and organizational growth in recent years, BTGCP has grown to a staff of four (Executive Director, Educational Director, Director of Development and Communications and a Volunteer Manager), nine part-time teachers and dozens of volunteer Mentor-Tutors.

Denni Locke Brusseau
Co-Founder 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

Tamaya Garcia
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

Jennifer Nichols
Volunteer Manager, August 2011 - Present

Jennifer has a deep commitment to improving education as evidenced by her tenure as Chair of the Business Campaign and Community Relations for the Tamalpais High School foundation. In this capacity Jennifer built relationships with businesses, organized community outreach strategies and managed the implementation of school improvement programs. In addition, Jennifer served on the Marin Country Day School Parent Board for eight years. In her various capacities, including as trustee, President of the Parent Board and Vice President of Fundraising, Jennifer was responsible for overseeing, coordinating and supporting 50 parents on the parent board and managing 25,000 volunteer hours annually.

Jennifer is responsible for volunteer recruitment, screening and management.

B.A. Colgate University
Masters in Public Health, Population and Family Health, Columbia University

Jeannine Doherty
After School Program Teacher Grade 4, March 2010

Jeannine is a founding Teacher in our After School Program. She brings over twelve years teaching experience with grades Pre School- 5th, primarily with Pre-3rd grade. Jeanine is a K-2 Literacy Specialist, adding an expertise particularly important with early learners. Originally our K-2 teacher, her experience with the beginning grades allows her to identify foundational gaps and provide focused and effective interventions and as well as accelerated academic support for her high performing students. Jeannine is warm and welcoming to her students and committed to their academic and personal growth and success.

B.S. Chico State University
California Multiple Subject Clear/CLAD Teaching Credential San Francisco State University

Hope Feldman
After School Program Teacher Grade 4, August 2013

Hope’s experience with Americorps Reading Partners working as the Site Director at Bayside Elementary School makes her a great addition to Team BTGCP. Hope has extensive experience working with the children in Marin City and possesses a deep understanding for the challenges and barriers faced by the students and community . She is sensitive to cultural differences and knows how to support children through challenging situations.

B.A. Sociology, Minor in Education, University of California, Davis
Currently enrolled in Teaching Credential Program for Multiple Subject and Special Education, Dominican University of California

Joann DiSano
After School Program Teacher Grade 5, September 2012

B.A. Sociology, Loyola Marymount
Masters in Literacy and Language Arts, Loyola Marymount School of Education
California Teaching Credential, Single Subject English

Elizabeth Bamberg-Guzman
Evening Program Teacher 1-3, September 2009

Liz joined Bridge the Gap as our Teacher/Coach for grades K-6, and is currently our 1-3 Grade Teacher/Coach in the Evening Program. Liz is a credentialed teacher with 25 years teaching experience, primarily in underserved communities in San Francisco. She is a Bilingual Spanish teacher and has many years of experience working with recently arrived Spanish speaking families in the Bay Area. Currently at Yick Wo Elementary School in San Francisco, she also taught a 4/5th combination classroom at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy with a Full Inclusion Program from 2003-2008. Liz has also worked with Linking San Francisco, as the Professional Development Coordinator for Service Learning, a SFUSD teacher development program for project based service learning.

B.A. Indiana University
Multiple Subjects Clear/CLAD Credential San Francisco State University
Liz has been working at Holy Names University on a Masters and certificate in Educational Therapy.

Isaias Franco
High School Program Lead Teacher and Advisor, August 2012

Isaias comes to BTGCP with over 7 years in the education field. He is During the day, Mr. Franco is a resource teacher for the Novato Unified School District and has his Master’s in Education. Mr. Franco grew up in Southern California and moved to the Bay Area two years ago to implement new high school programs for special education students. Mr. Franco enjoys outdoor activities and pushing students to reach their full potential. Mr. Franco is a first generation college graduate and wants to assist students so they can experience the gift of higher education.

B.A. Social Sciences, California State University of San Marcos
Masters in Special Education National University, Carlsbad, California
Special Education Credential National University, Carlsbad, California

David Snaith
High School Program Mathematics Teacher, January 2013

B.A. Mathematics, Humboldt State University
Single Subject Credential Mathematics San Francisco State University

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

Alvin Gilmore
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

Tamaya Garcia
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

 


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