MISSION: Founded in 2001, Bridges to Prosperity is a non-profit organization that “provides isolated communities with access to essential health care, education and economic opportunities by building footbridges over impassable rivers.”

VISION: “Bridges to Prosperity envisions a world where poverty no longer exists.”

Build to Innovate - Bridges to Prosperity designs and implements footbridge solutions that will be safe for community members to use, viable given local resources and conditions, and replicable for use at multiple sites.

Build to Educate - Bridges to Prosperity is dedicated not just to the actual construction of footbridges, but also to education on how to construct them. By dispersing knowledge of footbridge construction, the organization aims to amplify the scale of its fight against rural isolation.

Build to Inspire - Bridges to Prosperity provides tremendous opportunities for individuals to grow and develop as leaders while collaborating with others from around the globe to change lives.

    -100 Bridges built in 14 countries

    -500,000 lives changed

    -12 % more children enrolled in school

    -24 % increase in healthcare treatment

    -18 % increase in women employed

    -15 % increase in local businesses

UNIVERSITY PROJECT: Bridges to Prosperity formally recognizes student chapters at universities across the United States. There are two programs through which these chapters can conduct their own bridge projects:

Program Project - This serves as a one year training mechanism in which a student chapter is assigned a project site by Bridges to Prosperity. Throughout the process, the chapter receives direct support and guidance from Bridges to Prosperity, including a field technical mentor and subsidized bridge cost. This project prepares the chapter to manage a chapter project.

Chapter Project - Student chapters are responsible for identifying their own project site, initiating contact with the community, and fundraising for the full cost of the bridge. Chapters assert more independent control over the project, but are still able to take advantage of Bridges to Prosperity technical resources and mentors, as well as the organization’s non-profit fundraising status.


Overview: The Penn State Chapter of Bridges to Prosperity was founded in the spring of 2013 and approved shortly thereafter for a Program Project in the summer of 2014. Our chapter’s first bridge will be constructed in a community called Membrillo, located in Cocle, Panama. In May - June of 2014, our travel team went to Caimital, Panama to complete our first bridge project, and we are proud to say that it was a success!

Our chapter currently consists of approximately 30 dedicated student members and is led by 10 student officers who each own a specific aspect of either the bridge project or the chapter’s day to day operation. We also are fortunate to have the support of two experienced faculty advisors from the civil engineering department. While civil engineering students will take the lead in designing our bridges, our chapter is comprised of students from a wide variety of other disciplines, all of whom will have the opportunity to travel with the chapter on construction trips. We strongly believe in blending the ideas and skillsets of students from many different backgrounds in order to maximize the success of our projects in all facets.

Organizational Structure: Our chapter consists of the following four committees that meet on a weekly to biweekly basis and are each responsible for managing and operating a core aspect of our bridge projects:

Fundraising CommitteeOversees all fundraising activities, including corporate relations, grant proposals, and on-campus fundraising events

Construction Committee Responsible for planning and supervising all aspects of construction, including coordinating material purchases, transferring the bridge design into a detailed build schedule, and training the rest of the chapter on construction techniques and safety protocols. This committee will supervise all chapter members on site during the construction trip while simultaneously coordinating with local community members who will be assisting.

Design Committee –Responsible for collecting and processing all site survey data and designing the bridge. Using the survey data, the committee will lay out the bridge profile in AutoCAD in order to determine the size of the anchors and the number of tiers. The committee will obtain the necessary approvals on the final design both from Penn State faculty and Bridges to Prosperity Technical staff to ensure the viability and safety of the design.

Cultural Relations Committee – Communicates throughout the year with the community in which the chapter will be working. This committee includes several members fluent in the native language to help assist in translation while on site. It will also be responsible for planning travel logistics and preparing chapter members for life in a new cultural environment. As the Penn State chapter progresses to a Chapter Project, this committee will take the lead in locating a community and project site abroad.

While each of these committees has its own primary set of responsibilities, there is great overlap and collaboration between committees that is enhanced by weekly officer meetings and monthly general body meetings.

Our Vision: As a new chapter and a new student organization on campus, our organization has its sights set not just on constructing a bridge in a new community next summer, but also in creating an organization that will bring bridges to communities in need for years to come. As we work toward our next project, we will continue to lay the foundation for this vision by creating a system in which the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities for constructing these bridges can be seamlessly passed down from graduating classes to incoming freshmen.