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Tufts University 1+4 Bridge Service-Year Program

Redefining—and democratizing—the bridge year

An innovative new program at Tufts combines the transformational experience of a year spent in public service with the university’s commitment to educate global citizens.

Take the well-known benefits of a bridge year between high school and college—improved academic achievement and increased motivation and maturity. Add Tufts’ dedication to service and equal access to education. The result: a visionary “1+4” program that enables incoming Tufts students to engage in an academic year of full-time national or international service—and to extend the lessons and growth of that transformative year throughout their undergraduate experience.

Hands-On Learning in Ecuador and the Bronx

At the beginning of what could have been her first year at Tufts, instead of learning her way around campus, Lydia Collins, A17, was learning to navigate the streets and byways of Ibarra, a mountain town in northern Ecuador. During her bridge year with Global Citizen Year, Collins assisted a grassroots microfinance effort begun by local women and opened an after-school center.

Phillip Ellis, A16, also took a bridge year between high school and college, working with youth in the South Bronx through the City Year program. Spending a year in service between high school and college “not only allows you to find yourself,” Ellis says, “it also allows you the rare opportunity to develop yourself as a leader.”

These students offer a snapshot of the kind of experiences the Tufts 1+4 program will bring to up to 50 participants beginning in 2015. Program fellows “will develop their abilities and passions in ways that will strengthen their studies and experiences at Tufts, as well as their personal and professional trajectories,” says Provost David R. Harris. “They will contribute in significant ways to solving pressing social problems while making discoveries about themselves and diverse societies.”

Lydia Collins, now learning her way around Somerville, agrees. Collins, who grew up in Evanston, Ill., says that her service year in Ecuador “motivated me to do better than if I had not taken time off and been pushed so far out of my comfort zone.” She says, “I have so much context for my studies now.”

Diverse fellows, global impact

The 1+4 program builds directly on Tufts’ core values, reinforcing longstanding commitments to active citizenship, national and global impact, and access to education.

  • Students who have been admitted to Tufts University are eligible to apply to the inaugural 1+4 program, which expects to admit up to 50 program fellows for the 2015-2016 academic year.
  • Tufts is committed to broadening the transformative potential of the bridge-year experience beyond the affluent segment of the population that has typically taken advantage of gap-year opportunities.
  • 1+4 fellows gain direct experience with innovative approaches to local and global challenges—including social entrepreneurship—that will strengthen their academic and co-curricular experiences at Tufts.
  • The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service leads the program, drawing on its expertise as a national leader in civic education and in preparing Tufts students for lifelong civic engagement.

Transformational education, meaningful service

The Tufts 1+4 program provides participants with the unique chance to immerse themselves in new communities and cultures, deepening their understanding of social problems, while staying connected to Tufts through innovative programming and digital learning technologies.

  • 1+4 fellows will develop problem-solving and real-world leadership skills.
  • Hands-on experiences will help participants shape their focus for future academic study and career exploration.
  • Participants will benefit from a cohort dedicated to service in the U.S. and around the globe.
  • Communities will benefit from Tufts’ 1+4 program in significant, tangible ways. Examples of likely national and international service by 1+4 fellows include:
  • Mentoring and tutoring at-risk children in urban schools in the U.S. with high dropout rates
  • Helping women in rural communities in developing countries apply for microloans to start small businesses
  • Working to help rebuild communities in the Philippines devastated by floods

More information about the 1+4 Bridge Year Service Learning Program is available on the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service website.