The Bridge Project was created in 1991 through a collaboration involving community representatives and faculty members in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver. Inspired by Chancellor Dan Ritchie's vision that the University of Denver strive to be "a great private university dedicated to serving the public good," community and faculty leaders developed a program aimed at reducing educational barriers, increasing educational opportunities, and improving learning outcomes for children and youth living in Denver's public housing communities. The project's mission and goals are based on data indicating that as many as 90 percent of youth residing in Denver's public housing developments fail to complete high school. The Bridge Project uses several integrated program components to enhance educational skills and outcomes for children, youth, and parents who participate in the project.
The first Bridge Project neighborhood center was established in Denver's North Lincoln Park public housing development in 1991. Due to the subsequent demolition of the North Lincoln Park location, the Bridge Project moved into the South Lincoln Park community in 1993. In January of 1998, a second site was opened in the Columbine public housing development; this was followed by the addition of a third location at the Westwood public housing development in the spring of 2001. The fourth site opened in 2008 at the Quigg Newton public housing development in north Denver.
Denver Housing Authority provides space for each of the Bridge Project sites. Renovation, equipment, and program costs are provided through private funds and in-kind contributions from the Denver community.
An integral part of knowing the history of the Bridge Project is to know the legacy of its former Executive Director, Mary Krane. Mary was the Executive Director for thirteen years. Under her leadership, Bridge opened three additional sites and significantly improved the programming and services offered to families and children. Mary was the driving force that makes Bridge what it is today. She is well-known and respected in the Denver community due to her tireless work in the social service and non-profit fields. Sadly, she lost her battle with cancer in November 2011, but her legacy will carry on through Bridge's programs that serve the children and families of Denver's public housing neighborhoods.