Bridges: Building Critical Literacy

Neighborhood Bridges, devised by the Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis and the University of Minneapolis, is a nationally recognized critical literacy program that empowers students to become animators of their own lives. Neighborhood Bridges was developed in 1997 by Peter Brosius, Artistic Director of the Children’s Theatre Company, and Jack Zipes, Professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota.  Teaching artists engage young people with storytelling, theatre, dance, puppetry and creative writing to transform classrooms into communities where students think independently and work collectively. Recognized by the federal government’s Department of Education as an effective model for arts education, CTC was awarded a grant to disseminate the program nationally. Fulton Theatre was privileged to be invited into the Neighborhood Bridges program. We now offer the program in three formats: Neighborhood Bridges, Building Bridges and Afterschool Bridges.

Contact the Director of Education and Outreach for more information, or to observe a current Neighborhood Bridge’s class.

“Applying for grants to build artists-in-residence programs can be difficult. Not so when collaborating with the Fulton Theatre, who provided materials, data and program evaluations from prior residencies and worked with me to tailor the program to our schools’ needs, making the application process relatively easy. Solid collaboration is the key.”    –Michael Slechta, Music, Art, Humanities and 21st Century Skills, School District of Lancaster

Neighborhood Bridges (grades 2-9)

Weekly 1-2 hour in-school sessions over a 12-week period that include creative writing, storytelling, theatre games and student created scenes, and group discussions that inspire critical thinking. Program culminates in a student created performance shared with the school community.

Building Bridges (ages 2-6)

Weekly 1-hour in-pre-school sessions over a 12-week period. Through play, storytelling, dance, creative drama, puppetry and music, Building Bridges promotes young children’s social/emotional, language development and creative arts. This program also builds the professional skills of the early childhood educator.

Afterschool Bridges (grades 1-8)

Weekly 1-2 hour sessions in schools and community centers after school hours that include storytelling through drama, dance, music and puppetry. The Fulton can support you in identifying and writing grants for this program. In 2009/10, Michael Slechta, Lancaster School District, worked cooperatively with Fulton’s Director of Education and Outreach to receive a grant from the Lancaster Education Foundation. Subsequently, eight fourth and fifth grade classrooms received a 12-week residency in the spring. If you have a foundation in your district, consider applying!