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Started in 1993 by two Leadership St. Louis® alumni, Bridges Across Racial Polarization was recognized in May 2002 as a "Solution for America" by the Pew Partnership for Civic Change, one of 19 initiatives from across the country to be honored.


Participants in the Bridges program:

  • Get to know people from other races who they might not otherwise meet
  • Increase their awareness and understanding of racial issues
  • Provide a sounding board for one another regarding challenging and divisive issues


Because racial balance is essential to the program’s goals, partcipants who sign up may not be immediately placed in a group. FOCUS welcomes new groups that have formed on their own and will provide all groups with program orientation materials. FOCUS may also be contracted to provide schools, organizations and companies with more extensive Bridges orientation and various training sessions. 

Participants commit to attending all group gatherings and serve as either co-hosts or attendees. Co-hosts coordinate group meetings and serve as the group’s central contacts. All attendees contribute to the group process by being active participants in addition to bringing refreshments or hosting gatherings in their homes.


For more information on joining a Bridges group or contract services, contact Yemi Akande at 314-622-1250 x105 or

Click here to view the Bridges brochure and request more information.


Tools for Conversations on Race

St. Louis History in Black and White

With this collection of stories, curated from hours of on-air conversations from St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio presents an oral history of civil rights, the black experience, and race relations in St. Louis from 1847 to 2010. Click here.

The Hermitage

One of our Bridges Steering Committee Members, Dan Schesch, visited Andrew Jackson's plantation home, The Hermitage. He shares with us his photos and thoughts about how slavery is portrayed at this historic site. What are your thoughts on how our history of race relations is displayed in historic and tourist locations? Have you visited this one or others?


The Supreme Court of the United States posted a special series on its blog. "Our goal is to reflect on the lasting impact the Supreme Court has had on race, both in law and in American society.  In light of Black History Month, many of our contributors focus on the Court’s historical impact on the black community.  The topics reflect diverse and sometimes divergent views, opinions, attitudes, and assumptions." This is sure to give your Bridges group much to talk about! Click here for the link.

War for Your Soul

Watch this 20 minute film that is spreading virally online. On March 15, 2009 filmmaker Reginald Bullock released the short film "A War For Your Soul" over the internet. In two years, the film has been viewed by more than 10 million people from all over the world. While originally targeted towards at-risk African American youth, it opens discussion for all of us to the question, "What is my role in my community?”

Racial Equity Tools

A web site designed to support people and groups who are working for inclusion, racial equity and social justice. The site includes ideas, strategies, and tips as well as a clearinghouse of resources and links from many sources.

The Riverfront Times asks:

Why is St. Louis Never Ranked as a Progressive City? Is it Because We're Too Black?  The question is based on the writings of an urban affairs blogger who examined mid-sized cities usually considered "hip" and compared them to census statistics. What do you think?

Race, Frankly

The St. Louis Beacon, a nonprofit online news publication, has partnered with KETC Channel 9 and the Missouri History Museum to create a yearlong series of events, in-depth articles and video pieces. FOCUS St. Louis is happy to be a partner on this provocative project. The St. Louis Beacon website offers many articles and information on event opportunities to spark discussion in Bridges groups. Also, you can sign up to be a source for news stories through their Public Insight Network.

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