Press Release: Aug. 16, 2021

BridgeUSA Is Creating High School Chapters

Creates A High School-To-College Pipeline For Constructive Discussion

Aug. 16, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO — BridgeUSA today is announcing the incorporation of high school chapters into the BridgeUSA network as the latest expansion of its mission to engage America’s youth across the nation in constructive political dialogue.

Bridge High School, formerly known as Real Talk, brings together high schoolers from across the political spectrum to engage in discussion about political issues happening around the country. The program provides students with tools for navigating discussions and disagreements, understanding current events, and mediating conversations, and allows them to better understand alternative perspectives to political topics.

By combining resources and communities from Real Talk and BridgeUSA, BridgeUSA is creating a pipeline from the beginning of high school to the end of graduate school for students to practice civil discourse and engage across lines of difference.

“Whether it’s high school students or college students, the fact is that our generation will inherit the future of American democracy and bear the cost of polarization for years to come. BridgeUSA is committed to equipping the next generation of leaders with the skills, network, and opportunity needed to build a movement that fights polarization and elevates a narrative of empathy and dignity,” said Manu Meel, CEO of BridgeUSA. 

“We are seeing an unprecedented time of polarization and division in our country, and it’s up to us young people to do something to help change it. Involving high schoolers in our movement helps reach even more of America’s youth, and let’s them know that their voices matter here too. We are looking forward to welcoming these students into the bridge-building space.”

Real Talk was founded in 2019 by high schoolers Divya Ganesan and Eliza Goler in response to increased political polarization they noticed growing on the national scale. They started Real Talk to address these national trends in their local community and beyond, and create opportunities for peers to engage in political discourse. Through the Real Talk network and community events, Goler and Ganesan engaged over 500 students in the Real Talk curriculum and hosted speakers such as the Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.

BridgeUSA has worked closely with Ganesan and Goler to connect with 13 existing Real Talk chapters and their members to create a network of students who are passionate about bridging our political divides through empathy and productive conversation. These chapters will be the first BridgeUSA High School chapters and their leaders will work closely with the organization to create additional spaces for constructive political discussion on high school campuses across the nation. 

“At chapter meetings and network events over the past two years, we have watched Real Talk students grow into curious, empathetic, and respectful listeners and advocates,” said Real Talk Founders Divya Ganesan and Eliza Goler. “Our vision has always been for Real Talk to contribute to an even larger scale youth-driven movement, and we are excited to take the next step toward achieving this goal by combining forces with BridgeUSA. We look forward to supporting our group of students and the growing team in our new roles as senior advisors to BridgeUSA.”

At the time of joining BridgeUSA, Real Talk had 13 high school chapters in three states, and an executive team of nine high school students. The chapters will continue to use a curriculum designed by Real Talk that teaches students how to have constructive conversations. Both Ganesan and Goler will continue to work with the BridgeUSA team as senior advisors.

Bridge High School is the latest initiative by BridgeUSA to involve high school students in civil political dialogue. The BridgeUSA High School Civic Leadership Initiative (HSCLI) is a program that equips high school students with moderation, leadership, and critical thinking skills for having constructive conversations. HSCLI connects students with other peers from across the country to discuss the latest political, social, and current events and issues in a productive manner. 

To learn more about BridgeUSA High School click here.

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