Bridges To Life

Healing crime victims. Rehabiliting offenders. Making our communities safer.

aka Bridges To Life   |   Houston, TX   |  www.bridgestolife.org

Mission

Bridges To Life (BTL) brings healing to victims of crime, reduces recidivism among offender graduates of the program, and helps make our communities safer. The mission of Bridges To Life is to connect communities to prisons to reduce the recidivism rate (particularly that resulting from violent crimes), reduce the number of crime victims, and enhance public safety. The spiritual mission of Bridges To Life is to minister to victims and offenders in an effort to show them the transforming power of God's love and forgiveness.

Ruling year info

1999

Founder and CEO

Mr. John Sage

Main address

P.O. Box 570895

Houston, TX 77257-0895 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

76-0588279

NTEE code info

Rehabilitation Services for Offenders (I40)

Religion Related, Spiritual Development N.E.C. (X99)

(Xon)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Each year, approximately 70,000 offenders are released back into our local Texas communities and without rehabilitation, many will commit crimes again and return to prison (recidivate) within three years. The cost to the taxpayer to incarcerate an offender in a Texas prison over the average sentence is approximately $105,000 (Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 2016), and that is in addition to the significant costs incurred at the county level, such as arrest and jail prior to incarceration. On top of the financial burden of crime, there are significant social costs. A recent study finds that incarceration reduces post-release employment and wages, increases take-up of food stamps, decreases likelihood of marriage, and increases the likelihood of divorce (Pew Center for the States, 2012). This has an extreme impact on society’s families, especially children, one in 25 of whom now has a parent behind bars and is significantly more likely to live in poverty.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Bridges To Life Adult Program

The BTL process emphasizes the involvement of victims, offenders, and the community in the criminal justice system. Over the course of the 14-week program, volunteer facilitators work with offenders in confidential small groups (two volunteers per ten offenders), exploring topics from responsibility to restitution. In addition, on 4 occasions, a crime victim comes into the prison and shares their story. When inmates hear firsthand about the deep and devastating effects of crime on victims, their families and communities, they experience empathy and become willing to accept responsibility for their own criminal actions. This unique "victim impact" approach, along with the inter-connectedness of participants, provides a systemic method for dealing with the harm caused by crime and discourages inmates from committing crimes once they are released. The Bridges To Life program is a model in the restorative justice movement.

Population(s) Served
Adults

In Texas, more than 100,000 youth are arrested annually or referred to the juvenile probation system. The Justice Policy Institute reports that youth confinement costs taxpayers hundreds of dollars per day and hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Yet research shows that incarceration is less effective than evidence-based juvenile programs, such as that offered by Bridges To Life. The BTL Juvenile Program takes caring adults into the juvenile facility to work directly with adjudicated youth in an effort to prevent them from committing further crimes.
​In 2009, the first BTL Juvenile Program piloted at the Harris County Leadership Academy in Katy, Texas, with 20 youth and 4 volunteers. Since then, the BTL Juvenile Program has graduated more than 700 youth from facilities in Texas, Colorado, Indiana, Tennessee and Utah.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

Where we work

Awards

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of program graduates

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Incarcerated people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

BTL is a restorative justice program that reduces crime in the community by lowering the recidivism rate of the offenders who complete our 14-week program.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Victims and oppressed people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

BTL volunteer facilitators guide inmate participants through the curriculum. Crime victim volunteers share their stories with offender participants, putting a face on crime.

Total number of volunteer hours contributed to the organization

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

The BTL program relies on the donated time of our volunteers. Facilitators give approximately 60 hours per 14-week project, guiding, listening,and providing feedback to inmate participants.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Bridges To Life (BTL) program has two main goals: (1) To reduce recidivism (re-offending) rates of program graduates, thereby enhancing public safety and saving taxpayer dollars; and (2) To facilitate the healing process for victims and offenders.

The Bridges To Life program effects a transformation in the minds and hearts of offenders so that, once released, they will not return to their former life of crime. Because BTL graduates recidivate (return to prison within 3 years after release) at a significantly lower rate (14.8%) than the national average of 38-40%, we know the program works. Fewer crimes means fewer crime victims and the enhancement of public safety. BTL is a restorative justice process that not only rehabilitates criminals, thereby reducing the number of inmates who return to prison, but also promotes healing for victims of crime. Many victims of crime are often emotionally broken by their experience, as well as faced with an adversarial and complex judicial system and few social supports. BTL volunteers who participate in our program as crime victim speakers report that sharing their stories with offenders offers a sense of empowerment that promotes forgiveness and hope.

Bridges To Life is led by Founder and Chief Executive Officer, John Sage, and a Board of Directors that provides fiscal and practical direction. The BTL Board is comprised of nine members with established interests in social services, philanthropy, law, accounting, and business. Every board member contributes financially to BTL, assists with fundraising efforts, and provides in-prison volunteer service. Several members provide legal and business-related advice and counsel, and all provide the social and spiritual support needed for BTL staff and volunteers to fulfill the mission of the organization. Mr. Sage leads a staff consisting of a Chief Operating Officer, Development Director, Communications Manager, Outreach Manager, Outreach Coordinator, and 12 full-time Regional Coordinators. The Regional Coordinators typically manage BTL projects in 4-8 prison units located within two hours of their home. This role involves many tasks including, but not limited to, recruiting and training volunteers and working with the prison staff to coordinate the implementation of our program inside the units.

BTL continues to successfully carry out its mission with the cooperation and partnership of numerous community agencies, faith-based organizations, and government entities. Since its inception, Bridges To Life has worked in close collaboration with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to provide a grassroots solution that reduces recidivism and makes communities safer.

Bridges To Life also works closely with the Harris County Community Supervision & Corrections Department to implement projects in two women's alternative facilities in Houston (the Women Helping Ourselves programs at Atascocita and Santa Maria Hostel), and with the leadership of the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department to conduct our juvenile program. BTL also partners with CitySquare and The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC) in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio, utilizing a modified version of its core curriculum to serve residents seeking counseling and addiction-related services.

BTL is a steady source of referrals for The WorkFaith Connection, SER–Jobs for Progress, One Man's Treasure, and Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP). These re-entry partnerships allow BTL to extend resources to offender participants, providing them with opportunities for education, training, and employment-related services that will aid them in successfully reintegrating into their communities.

The latest three-year recidivism study of BTL graduates reflected a recidivism rate of just 14.8%. Nationwide, recidivism rates are reported to have remained “largely stable since the mid-1990s, varying between 38% and 40%" (Pew Center State of Recidivism Study, 2011).

The economic impact of crime is profound as well. The cost to the taxpayer to incarcerate an offender in a Texas prison over the average sentence is approximately $105,000 (Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 2016), and that is in addition to the significant costs incurred at the county level, such as arrest and jail prior to incarceration. On top of those expenses, there are significant social costs. A recent study finds that incarceration reduces post-release employment and wages, increases take-up of food stamps, decreases likelihood of marriage and increases the likelihood of divorce. Based on changes in defendant behavior alone, the study estimates that a one-year prison term for marginal defendants conservatively generates $56,200 to $66,800 in social costs.

The 5-year average cost of the BTL program is just $208 per graduate. Based on the reduction in recidivism rates, the increase in public safety, and multiple costs listed above, BTL is saving taxpayers millions of dollars every year.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board, Our funders,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

Financials

Bridges To Life
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Bridges To Life

Board of directors
as of 10/22/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Edward Davis

Juniper Capital, LP

Kirk Blackard

Retired, Shell Oil Co.

Katherine Cabaniss Parsley

Harris County

Edward Davis

Juniper Capital, LP

Ershel Redd

Retired CEO, El Paso Electric

John Sage

Bridges To Life

Richard Seltzer

Richard C. Seltzer Law Firm

George Strake

Cushman & Wakefield

Gay Van Osdall

Community Volunteer

Will Perry

Worldwide Power Products

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/22/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data