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Atlanta program helps students find academic, career success in non-traditional ways

The goal is to help students who feel stuck in traditional school.

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — Public school is not for everyone. A program in metro Atlanta is creating a space for students to find success in non-traditional ways. 

The Bridge Academy in College Park offers full-time and part-time schooling and coaching opportunities for students ages 16 to 24. They provide support for different things ranging from housing and food assistance to career development and academic help.

"Most times when young people struggle academically, they don't necessarily get the same opportunities as students who are really excelling successfully academically," said Tammy Miller, executive director of The Bridge Academy.

Miller told 11Alive the program exposes these students to opportunities in STEM, leadership development and career coaching. 

She said the goal is to help students who feel stuck in traditional school.

"Being able to expose students to those opportunities, and then with the hope and intention that with that exposure, that young person would then connect with the passion or see themselves in that industry thriving," she said.

Miller said the pandemic amplified the issues struggling families are having and the program is set to not only help students, but their families too.

The Academy started a housing pathway program and a food donation program where they help students and families find a place to live and put food on the table.

"Particularly for students who are living an extended stay hotels. We know that they can't focus on school," she said. "They can't even think about what happens after high school when their families are struggling."

Students can also get access to help developing their professional and academic skills. Miller said it's a vital resource they might not have been able to take away from a traditional school setting.

"We live in a beautiful metro Atlanta, where everyone should have an opportunity to thrive," she said. "No one, just to spend their entire life in chronic struggle."

The Academy is funded by organizations and donors. Miller said enrollment costs about $6,000, but the school is able to offset the costs for students thanks to the donations they receive.