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Building Bridges through Relationships: A High School Dropout Prevention Program

Research Team

Principal Investigator: Gina Kunz

Funding Information

Funding Agency: Woods Charitable Fund

Award Date: Nov 11, 2015

End Date: Jun 30, 2018


High school dropout continues in the United States. While gains have been made the past 10 years nationally, the dropout rates remain significant in Nebraska and in Lincoln Public Schools.

Building Bridges, a dropout-prevention initiative, offers counseling to at-risk high school freshmen, aiming to reverse trends that would eventually lead to dropping out. The program aims to prevent the social and personal consequences of dropout, including lower income, joblessness, higher rates of incarceration and greater need for public assistance.

The Building Bridges program supports students by emphasizing individual strengths and positive psychology. The program’s counselors focus on:

  1. fostering caring relationships;
  2. identifying and enhancing personal strengths;
  3. developing purposes for school;
  4. monitoring progress;
  5. connecting with home; and
  6. promoting student well-being.
Program counselors are graduate students in the counseling psychology program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, who are trained in the program’s strengths-based approach. Weekly group supervision sessions ensure the program is conducted as planned.

Incoming ninth-graders with histories of school failure and poor attendance are referred and recruited to the program. Building Bridges has been active at Lincoln Northeast High School since 2010, and has been extended to Lincoln High School. Research will provide pilot data for a larger future study.

Social, Emotional and Behavioral Well-being, Academic Intervention & Learning