Fifteen-year-old high school freshman Kendall White loves his world history class. He dreams of joining his school’s football team next year and maybe the hip-hop club. When he grows up, he wants to become an architect or an artist. But before White came to The Bridge Intensive Prevention Services (BIPS) program, he would often skip school and was in danger of failing.

Spring 2011 marked the start of BIPS, a collaboration among PHMC affiliate The Bridge and Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services (DHS) and Family Court. It helps students like White avoid truancy and achieve academic goals. A comprehensive after-school program serving West and Southwest Philadelphia, BIPS provides intensive, in-home case management services and counseling to students and their families. Staff members help youth develop social and civic skills, better their academic performance and avoid negative influences. “BIPS is very client-centered,” says Bridge Director Michael Ogden. “It’s specific to each child. We want to help them achieve academically and also stabilize.”

“The children here know that staff are genuinely concerned with their welfare,” says Program Director Sulaiman Wood. The BIPS staff includes Wood, three case managers, three counselors and other support personnel. DHS and the court system refer students to BIPS, which is located in West Philadelphia. Participants begin each weekday with a snack and homework. Onsite staff assist students with homework before moving on to facilitate group therapy sessions. Twelve students enrolled in the spring 2011 semester.

In addition to working directly with students, staff communicate with parents to facilitate growth and development. “We know that children thrive when they’re at home,” says Wood. “By working with the parents, we hope we can better keep children out of the court system and the child services system.” Although it is a new program, students are already showing notable improvement. For example, one set of parents reports that their son’s “grades have gotten better, he comes to the program on a regular basis and he recently had a job interview with a museum,” says Wood. “This population, and the field as a whole, does not always produce immediate success, but with patience change can happen.” Wood cites White as another example of a BIPS success story. After coming to BIPS in March, White resolved to better his academics. “I got a lot of help at BIPS,” says White. “My grades definitely improved. If I could give freshmen one piece of advice, it would be: ‘Go to class and go prepared.’”

For more information about BIPS, contact Sulaiman Wood at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 267.350.7634.