What is The Bridge Teen Center?
We are a nonprofit community center for students in 7th-12th grade. We offer FREE programs that are designed around the interests and needs of teens in the suburbs. Click here for more info.
How does a student get involved?
Students complete a membership application online. Assuming all eligibility requirements are met and membership is approved, they have unlimited access to our free afterschool programs and events.
Where do I get a student membership application?
For the safety of our students, every student needs a student membership application on file. Once completed and filed, it lasts until a student graduates high school. Click here for an application, or pick one up at The Bridge.
Are the programs free?
All programs and events at The Bridge are offered free of charge. Students who attend Friday nights without a completed membership application must pay a $5 cover charge. This charge is in place to encourage students to complete and return the FREE student membership application. The only thing we charge for at The Bridge Teen Center is snacks and beverages at our cafe (prices range from 25 cents to $2 to cover our costs).
Where are you located?
We are located at 15555 S. 71st Ct. in Orland Park, Illinois. Just north of 159th Street and just east of Harlem Ave. (directly behind Dunkin’ Donuts).Click HERE for directions.
Are there residency restrictions?
No. We have served students and families from 128 different local communities.
How do I sign-up for programs?
Once a student membership is approved, login credentials to the Bridge Student Portal will be emailed to the student email address on file. Students can sign up for programs there. Watch this video for a quick tutorial.
What do I do if the program I want to attend is full?
We strongly recommend that you sign up for the waiting list. Cancellations do occur and we will call students on the waiting list when a spot in the program opens up.
I’m not signed up for a program. Can I still hangout at The Bridge?
We do offer a number of recurring "hangout" times after school that require advance sign up. Look for hangout times in our art studio, cafe, outdoor patio or our gaming area call "The Garage." To view and sign up click here.
Will The Bridge Teen Center remind me of the student programs that I signed up for?
Yes, confirmation text messages, or phone calls are made 48-72 hours prior to every program. If no response is received to our confirmation message/call within 24 hours of the program, another student on the waiting list will fill your spot. Out of respect to our volunteers, please be sure you can attend the program(s) you have signed up for. Please note: if a student is a "no show" for 2 or more programs, they will be automatically placed on the waiting list for other programs they have signed up for during that semester. We require a 48 hour notice for all program cancellations.
The Bridge Teen Center will send all confirmation text messages to the parent/guardian cell phone number that was provided on the student membership application. You may opt out of text messages at any time, but doing so will prevent future reminder/confirmation messages.
Will The Bridge Teen Center flood my phone with promotional related text messages?
No. On occasion, The Bridge Teen Center may send a promotional text message with details of an exciting upcoming Friday event, however promotional text messages are very rare. At any time, student members may opt out of receiving text message from The Bridge Teen Center by replaying with STOP. However, doing so will stop ALL text messages, including confirmation text messages for the program you signed up for.
When are you open for students?
Our free afterschool programs take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 2:00-6:00pm during the school year. (In the summer, programs take place between 1:00-6:00pm.) Every other Friday Night we are open to students from 7:30-10:30pm. Click here to view dates and times on our program calendar. All students must sign up in advance to attend a program and/or event.
Beside free programs, what is there to do at The Bridge?
Plenty! During Hangout times students can create in our Art Studio, play numerous free games in out garage themed arcade area, read a book or have a peaceful conversation in The Hideaway, play video games with current friends and new friends on the latest gaming systems, grab a snack or beverage in the Café, and much more.
Do your Arcade games cost money?
No quarters or tokens are needed here. All the games in "The Garage” are FREE to students and have unlimited play time. We have games like skee-ball, air hockey, ping-pong, foosball, old school pinball machines and more. Plus we have every board game you could imagine.
What kind of food and drinks do you offer at the Café?
We offer bottled water, soft drinks (none with high fructose corn syrup), fruit juices, healthier option packaged snacks and more. We do charge for snacks and beverages, ranging from 25 cents to $2 to cover our costs and waste. We offer fresh fruit to students free of charge based on availability.
If this is free, how are you funded?
We are a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that receives no ongoing federal or state funding. We rely on the support of individuals, companies, foundations, and churches in the community to remain open. In fact, 91 cents of every dollar donated to The Bridge directly supports our free programs. We are also supported by our sister organization, The Bridge Thrift Store. To donate, click HERE.
Where is The Bridge Thrift Store located?
The Bridge Thrift Store is located right next to The Bridge Teen Center. The thrift store is open to the public Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 5pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 7pm. The store is closed Sundays and Mondays.
How do I donate to The Bridge Thrift Store?
Clothing, home goods and other donations can be dropped off at our donation trailer located behind our store. Furniture donations can be dropped off at the labeled garage door in the middle of the building behind our store. Donations are accepted only during store hours. Please no dumping. Learn more here.
Do you help teens find part-time jobs?
We help prepare students for the workforce through our Thriftastic Job Readiness program. Plus we frequently seek part-time student workers at The Bridge Thrift Store. See students positions at thebridgeteencenter.org/jobs.
Are you affiliated with a church?
We consider ourselves a faith-based organization based on the values and beliefs of our Founders and members of our Board of Directors. However, we are not affiliated with any church or denomination nor do we offer any religious programming. Students of ALL faiths and backgrounds are welcome. The Bridge also receives financial and volunteer support from churches of varying denominations.
Do you have multiple locations?
At this time, the one and only Bridge Teen Center is located in Orland Park. However, response to our mission has drawn great interest from groups and individuals all over the country. Although formal consulting arrangements do not currently exist, we do our best to assist others when we are able. This is something we hope to formalize in the near future.
Is this a place just for troubled teens?
The Bridge is about being proactive instead of reactive. The Bridge recognizes all teens face trouble at some time in their life and need a support system to help them navigate through that. The staff at The Bridge is trained to identify students that need immediate professional care and direct their parents/guardians to a care facility that meets whatever the need might be. Our staff is also trained to help direct students to programs at The Bridge that might help them through difficult situations. For additional information, please see our “Eligibility Requirements” on our membership application.
How do students get to The Bridge?
Currently, students find their way to The Bridge by way of a parent/guardian, by taking the PACE bus, or (in good weather) riding their bike. We also have a "Bridge Bus" that picks students up after school at select local schools. Click here for more info about our FREE bus service.
Where can students store personal items at The Bridge?
The Bridge Teen Center has a limited number of lockers available for student use. We DO NOT provide locks for these lockers. Students are welcome to bring their own locks, however, locks left on premises at closing time will be cut off. The Bridge is not responsible for lost or stolen items. We do have a "lost and found" locker for students who are missing items, however, if these items are left in the lost and found for more than two weeks, they will be donated to the thrift store.
I have a Bridge membership but I lost my Bridge ID. Can I still come to the Bridge?
Yes. Students with an active Bridge membership can come to the Bridge without their Bridge ID; however, it may take a little longer to check you in at the front door.
Do you issue replacement Bridge IDs?
Yes. However, a $5.00 ID replacement fee will be charged.
What type of security do you have in place?
The Bridge continually strives to provide a safe atmosphere for parents and students. We have taken every precaution to create a safe environment and provide adequate accessibility for every student. Each student (and adult) is required to check-in and out of The Bridge during each visit. We keep an adult to student ratio of 1:15 for student safety. Our front desk volunteer monitors who comes into the facility as well as activity in the parking lot. We have a complete security system (with one-button police/fire access) and surveillance cameras to monitor activity inside and outside. Anyone over 18 years old must go through the volunteer process to be on site during student hours, and must wear a nametag while on the premises. The Bridge has different levels for volunteering depending on interaction level with students. Every volunteer is required to complete an application, is crossed referenced with the National Sex Offender list, has a sixty minute interview, and receives extensive training for their role. Along with the complete volunteer process, all mentors and bus drivers are required to have a complete background check before his/her service begins. For the safety of our students and volunteers, The Bridge Teen Center reserves the right to conduct random bag checks (or search other personal property) if necessary.
What is your digital citizenship policy?
For the safety of our students, volunteers and staff, personal cell phones are not shared or used to communicate with students. The Bridge has cell phones on site with multi-users that are used to communicate with volunteers and to text our Student Ambassadors only.
What can I do to help?
We are grassroots organization, relying entirely on the support of the community. In addition to the need for ongoing financial support, we have a “wish list” of items we need to support our free programs. We are also seeking volunteers and volunteer groups for various roles at both The Bridge Teen Center and The Bridge Thrift Store.
For information about volunteering, click here.
To view our current Amazon wish list, click here.
To make a monetary donation, click here.
To learn more about The Bridge Thrift Store, click here.