learn about our team and mission
How we got started
Paper Bridges began in 2017 as a small dream in the back of a high school chemistry classroom. Co-founders Rebecca – who worked with foster youth for her sophomore year capstone project – and Emily – who taught vulnerable youth and orphans in China for two summers – came together with big hopes to do more: make a lasting impact on youth.
Their first vision of Paper Bridges was a letter writing program between orphans and caring individuals in all walks of life. Through the letter writing program, Paper Bridges sought to provide encouragement, love, and connections for orphans. Travelling from schools to libraries to senior centers, Emily and Rebecca began collecting handwritten stories, heartfelt words of encouragement, and beautiful works of art to send abroad. The recipients, orphans from Myanmar, China, Kenya, and more countries all around the world, were quick to send notes back, and in some cases, even letters from the orphans themselves. Paper Bridges’ letter writing program spread by word-of-mouth and social media, and soon thousands of letters were being mailed or emailed to the organization.
The Paper Bridges team, filled with students on fire with passion and unhindered by their age, recognized the potential and desire of youth to create change. Working with orphans, international students, and partner youth organizations, Paper Bridges soon expanded past its original letter writing mission as dozens of student chapters cropped up around the country. Responding to the needs of their partner orphans, those chapters donated care packages, sent books and educational resources, and even held a sports camp for their paired orphanages.
In 2020, due to COVID-19, international shipping and partnerships became much more complicated, but even more importantly, the pandemic highlighted the disparities and challenges facing our own communities. As a result, Paper Bridges shifted its focus to foster youth and local community impact, with domestic chapters partnering with local foster youth and foster care centers and international chapters partnering with local orphanages. We hope that this change allows for more direct youth to youth collaboration, as student chapters work with foster youth in their communities to pinpoint needs, develop resources, and create avenues of support. In the same year, Paper Bridges also launched its blog, which covers urgent issues related to orphans, outlines lasting trauma of foster care, and highlights the work of passionate Paper Bridges chapters and members.
Today, Paper Bridges has over 100 student chapters and is active in 18 countries. We are so thankful for the dedication and heart of all our partner orphanages, foster centers, and student chapters, as well as all of your generous support! Hopefully, together we can continue to empower youth within their communities, embolden youth to demand the rights and equality they deserve, regardless of background, and equip youth for success in the future.
Chapters and Orphanages
The contact of information of local and school chapters can be found on the map below. If you would like to join or partner with a chapter, please reach out to the chapter president at the email listed. No chapter in your area? Start a chapter or become a State/National President to join our Paper Bridges community.
MEET THE TEAM
Becca started Paper Bridges as a sophomore in high school. She is currently a sophomore at Yale University studying English and History of Art and enjoys cooking and reading in her free time.
Emily co-founded Paper Bridges and is a sophomore at Stanford University studying Computer Science and Economics. She's a strong advocate for youth social entrepreneurship and is the author of Beyond a Bake Sale.
As a professional fundraiser, Amy is passionate about aligning philanthropy with anti-oppression practices. For over 20 years, Amy has engaged communities in fundraising to reduce disparities in health outcomes for under-resourced populations; to provide economic opportunity through entrepreneurship; and to empower youth action to affect climate policy and issues affecting their global communities.
Director of Youth Investments at Peace First
Founder and president of consulting firm R.Clement.Creative, Inc., communications strategist R.C. “Bob” Dirkes is the award-winning producer and host of the Creating IT Futures Technologist Talk podcast. A trained journalist and speaker, Dirkes’ pragmatic approach and practical style enables content solutions that strike an engaging balance between standardization and customization.
R.C. “Bob” Dirkes,
Founder of R.Clement.Creative Inc
Christina 20+ years of experience as a leadership and executive coach at Accenture, Lee Hecht Harrison, and Compass Enterprises. Her work as been published in Fast Company, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Bloomberg’s Moneyish, and many more. Through her volunteer mentor coaching with 1871, Christina has developed and refined an effective business growth methodology that has helped 50+ tech entrepreneurs find success.
Executive Coach at Compass Enterprises
Deepa has over 18+ years of experience across various industries and geographies. She currently heads the commercial team for the GE Healthcare Services business in South East Asia. She is passionate about driving positive change, innovation and D&I initiatives. She also leads the Diversity Network for GE Company in Singapore.
Growth Director at GE healthcare
David is working towards sharing insights based on leading global research representing the voice of 7,000,000,000+ people. He focus all his energy to make a positive impact on others at scale. He is also the founder of NextGen Latinx, a digital platform and collective that allows young Latinx professional & rising university students to connect to like-minded peers, mentors, and career resources
Partnerships at Pew Research
How to help
Our organization would not exist without the hard work and contributions from our student leaders, volunteers, donors, and partners. We strive to create accessible opportunities for anyone to create meaningful impact in a child's life.