Individual Presentation

First Presenter's Institution

Bars to Bridges/Multnomah Education Service District

First Presenter’s Email Address

First Presenter's Brief Biography

Micaella has been working for Bars to Bridges since 2017. She received her Bachelors of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice with a focus in Juvenile Justice from Portland State University. Prior to Bars to Bridges, Micaella worked with youth ages 5-11 at St. John's Community Center building program curriculum and summer camp activities.

Second Presenter's Institution

Christine Otto

Second Presenter’s Email Address

Second Presenter's Brief Biography

Christine currently serves as the Project Director for Bars to Bridges since 2017. She is also a Senior Administrator for Multnomah Education Service District (MESD) and oversees several unique programs. Prior to Bars to Bridges, she worked with youth for over 20 years as a classroom teacher, building administrator and program administrator.


Session Five Breakouts

Strand #1

Head: Academic Achievement & Leadership

Strand #2

Home: Family & Community Engagement


Although this proposal could fall under any of the strands, Head and Home were the two strands that were thought to encompass most of what Bars to Bridges represents. Our main goals are centered around creating positive education experiences for all youth. We strive to reduce the number of discipline incidents and interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. In addition, increasing academic achievement through culturally responsive and trauma informed practices and relationships. Through a wrapround approach, we help teach parents how to advocate for their child in school settings and connect with adults in the youths' lives that are important to their education. We help promote culturally responsive curriculum and resources to educators across the state to help create systemic change. The first strand, Head, is most relevant to the academic achievements we work and advocate towards. The second, Home, is most relevant to the way in which we service the youth's families and engage with our community.

Brief Program Description

We'll explore tangible ways to advocate for BIPOC students who've experienced educational disruptions. We’ll discuss the methods and model The Bars to Bridges Program uses to successfully transition justice involved youth into their academic settings and maintain engagement in education.


Bars to Bridges (B2B) works with justice involved BIPOC youth to expedite re-entry into schools, increase student engagement and decrease recidivism. Through these actions, B2B promotes regular and consistent school attendance and increases positive educational transitions and outcomes for youth. B2B also supports students in pursuing higher education and continued academic growth.

This session will highlight the success of the program since its start in 2016, such as re-enrollment into neighborhood schools and serving as a bridge between students, parents, the school system and the juvenile justice system. We’ll discuss the benefits of building partnerships with community stakeholders and cultural responsiveness around advocacy and mentorship for youth who’ve been disengaged in school and how to implement support. Presenters will give a 45-minute multimedia presentation allowing for a 15-minute Q&A panel with our team of Transition Specialists. The presentation will include examples of how Bars to Bridges uses advocacy to increase engagement of students in school and support transitions from middle school to high school and high school to higher education. The session will utilize findings from independent research that affirms the impact of our work. The research provided will convey the evidence-based practices used, feedback from stakeholders and insight from youth in the program. Topics addressed will include but not limited to: culturally responsive mentorship and advocacy, individualized case management, trauma informed practices, and wraparound support of youth and families. The audience will also engage in dialogue about the importance and implementation of culturally responsive pedagogy and how fostering relationships promotes educational success.


Bars to Bridges (B2B) has high quality Transition Specialists that do individualized case management for each student and family. They assess the needs and use a solution-focused approach. Much of this case management starts with identifying the student's concerns about school and helping with the enrollment process into their neighborhood school. The Bars to Bridges Model consistently utilizes the following for success:

  • Mentorship and Advocacy
  • Cultural Responsiveness and Individualized Support
  • Trauma-Informed Practices
  • Professional Development and Culturally Responsive Partners
  • Reducing Barriers in School Reentry

In 2017 and 2019, B2B had independent research done by Research Making Change (RMC) for The Oregon Department of Education.

Focus groups were conducted with: Transition Specialists, B2B youth, Juvenile Court Counselors, and Culturally Responsive Partners.

Focus groups conducted by RMC Research in 2019 reported that B2B transition specialists: Motivated youth to want to go back to school; informed students and their families about options and helped them choose a reentry setting: neighborhood school, GED, alternative school; helped students and their families complete re-enrollment paperwork; and advocated for students at schools, where students often feel the schools do not want them back.

Learning Objective 1

Understand the importance of fostering relationships to encourages educational success

Learning Objective 2

Learn the impact of the school-to-prison pipeline in Oregon and the solutions that are working to change it.

Learning Objective 3

Recognize the value of a student-centered approach to case management

Keyword Descriptors

Advocacy, culturally responsive, reentry, academic achievement, juvenile justice, mentorship

Presentation Year


Start Date

3-8-2022 10:15 AM

End Date

3-8-2022 11:30 AM


Mar 8th, 10:15 AM Mar 8th, 11:30 AM

Bars to Bridges: Culturally Responsive Education Advocacy

Session Five Breakouts

We'll explore tangible ways to advocate for BIPOC students who've experienced educational disruptions. We’ll discuss the methods and model The Bars to Bridges Program uses to successfully transition justice involved youth into their academic settings and maintain engagement in education.