Bridge Year End Reflections

Bridge School
Dec 20, 2018 · 6 min read

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It’s December, and that means (like every other human and org) we’re in reflection mode. We had a momentous year in 2018 — some real successes and some real failures. We’re going into 2019 armed with what we learned over the last year, including how to work sustainably, warning signs of being “,” and how to create focus and alignment in an organization with over 90 volunteers. We’d love to share with you some highlights and learnings of our eventful year, and what’s next.

✅ 2018: What we actually did.

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We Incorporated

We became a not-for-profit, officially!

We’re now a corporate entity that can take donations, and grow as an organization to expand our program reach.

Want to donate? You can now easily .

We Fundraised

We experimented to see if the tech community supports and finds value in our mission.

Turns out they do. We’re proud of our efforts to fundraise so that we can expand and serve more of the community. We’re also proud and grateful to all the forward-thinking companies who sponsored us in 2018: our Lead Sponsor , and our Cohort Sponsors , , , , , and .

We Grew

We ran more cohorts, more systematically.

We added core instructors and other volunteers that weren’t founders, and made it a lot easier to volunteer with us in any role.

We Communicated

We increased our reach in the tech community and beyond.

We did this through events, workshops, and doing talks, panels, and podcasts. We also did more communications and marketing through social media and blog posts to spread the word.

We Specialized

We formed a more specialized core Operations volunteer team.

This team runs everything from grant writing to volunteer management to devops.

😅 2018: The effect it had on us.

Admittedly, we were very ambitious and had a lot things we wanted to do. We made a giant list of 52 uncategorized bullet points. Some of them were really granular, like “Add students to calendar invite for Cohort 3.” And some of them were not so granular, like, “Operationalize with a group of specialized roles.”

Even though our list was uncategorized and unprioritized we ended up achieving almost all of the things. We’re really proud of what we did and all we achieved, but it came at a high cost.

We went from volunteering after hours, to having one and a half full time staff. We created our own jobs, and then made them unsustainable. We were our own bad bosses, and that bled over to some of our core volunteers. A few of us burnt out in 2018.

We had a wake up call, and a need for focus and sustainability. This led us to some very intense prioritization, which turns out is pretty hard when it’s your own thing. Our 2019 will be ambitious with self-compassion and focus at the heart of everything we do.

🚀 2019: A bigger year with deliberate focus.

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We will stabilize

We will focus on and ensure sustainable work for all Bridge volunteers and staff.

This means running Software Development and Product Design cohorts in a regular cadence while improving our core services to our community.

We will fundraise

We will double our fundraising efforts and go after major grants.

We saw more support from the Toronto tech community in 2018 than we thought possible, including through much-needed financial support. In 2019 we’ll continue to graduate and support amazing talent and connect them to supportive companies in a way that helps everyone.

We will govern

We will form our first Board of Directors and create both a 5 year Strategic Plan and a Fundraising Plan.

While hitting the ground running was the theme of 2018, in 2019 we’re excited to think big and plan for longer-term impact. We’re now looking for our first Board members who will help guide our work and our core team in the years to come, towards even greater impact.

We will communicate

We will advocate for systemic change in our industry.

When you start something, you have to focus on a small slice of what you can reasonably achieve, and have tunnel vision on that mission until you’ve succeeded. We’ve done this for the last 3 years at Bridge. Now that our community has matured, this means not just doing the work, but moving important conversations in our industry forward. Even if it’s uncomfortable to do so while following our values at the same time.

We’ll use our platform to discuss important issues like the broken state of tech education, the lack of trans-inclusion in women’s movements, and why it’s important to level up women, agender, and non-binary people that are currently in tech.

✨ Our Renewed Mission, Vision, and Values.

In order to help us focus in 2019, we re-wrote our Mission, Vision, and Values to be more aligned with how we want to grow. And we also did it because , and is .

Our Mission

What we’re doing and how we’re doing it.

Bridge provides high-value advanced education at zero cost to pursue gender equity within the tech industry.

Our Vision

What systemic change we want to make.

Bridge is working toward a future where all people have agency and access to opportunity in the tech industry, regardless of gender.

Our Values

Core values are the deeply ingrained principles that guide all of an organization’s actions. They must never be compromised, even when it hurts to follow them.

1. Increasing Equity

Marginalized people should not have to pay to access self-improvement opportunities that non-marginalized groups usually get at no cost. This is why Bridge will always be completely free of cost for our students.

Creating a safe space is everyone’s responsibility. We should all be able to show up as our whole selves.

2. Intersectional Feminism

We acknowledge that people experience oppression in different configurations and in varying degrees of intensity, and make our programs inclusive to those who need them most.

We are allies. We listen, learn, and give space to people who are marginalized.

3. Institutionalizing Empathy

We practice being empathetic to ourselves and our community, from the top down, in all decision-making, strategy, and communications.

We are committed to being dependable and choosing sustainable work over unsustainable growth.

4. Impact-Focused

We take direct action to solve problems within our reach. We value accountability to the community at our core.

We keep out content and instruction methods up to date with modern best practices, towards everyone’s growth.

👋 Join us in 2019.

Currently, corporate sponsorship is what sustains our work. We love partnering with the companies that benefit from hiring our graduates and who understand the importance of building a more diverse tech industry today. If your company wants to be part of making true impact in 2019, you can email our Executive Director, Emily Porta, at to learn more about how we can partner.

You can also d at any time, through our website.

Prefer to volunteer? You can f to chat more about how you can be involved.

Finally, you can help by simply spreading the word about us to your community and workplace! A lot of our students and sponsors hear about us this way. Even if you can’t contribute financially or with time, word of mouth makes a huge impact.

🙌 Thank you!

A huge THANK YOU to everyone involved in making our 2018 such a success. Building this community has been the highlight of all of our careers. And now, on to a sustainable and focussed 2019!

Written by , , and

itsbridgeschool

We skill up and support women, agender, and non-binary professionals via free software development and product design programs in Toronto.

Bridge School

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Free education for women, agender, and non-binary folks in technology. Interested in running Bridge at your company? Reach out to us at hello@bridgeschool.io

itsbridgeschool

We skill up and support women, agender, and non-binary professionals via free software development and product design programs in Toronto.