A local association called Family Health Services was incorporated in February 1972 by a group of medical providers in Jacksonville to address the medical and healthcare needs of low-income families in the inner city. In 1982, as a result of a JCCI study on teen pregnancy, Family Health Services evolved into The Bridge of Northeast Florida Inc. to address that need. From the beginning, The Bridge has targeted children of Jacksonville’s most overburdened, poor families where the risk is highest for negative outcomes like teen pregnancy, dropping out of high school and violence.
Over the past 30 years, The Bridge has experienced steady growth. We asked our parents what their children needed and our programs have expanded to meet those needs. Among the results are academics and homework help, teen pregnancy prevention education, job skills training and employment programs and four corporate-based mentoring programs. All Bridge programs are designed to provide opportunities for healthy social development, foster healthy youth and adult relationships and instill a sense of connection and pride in the community.
Four local advocates for children: two doctors, a minister and an educator founded The Bridge. Each put a personal stamp on the agency that continues to shape our focus today. Two of the four founders have passed away, but their legacy lives on through active Bridge Board Member, Dr. Davy Parrish. Under her visionary leadership, The Bridge has grown from one building to an inner city campus including five buildings, eight satellite programs throughout Jacksonville and a partnership with the Duval County Public Schools for a national pilot public school at The Bridge. Dr. Parrish also partnered with local foundations and corporations for innovative programs that have made The Bridge the primary teen-serving agency in Jacksonville addressing teen employment. In 2013, Davy Parrish retired after 30 years.