One America Community Efforts
Little Bar

Program: Bridging Difference, YWCA of Wausau, Wausau, WI
Contact(s): Janet Newman, Executive Director: (715) 842-3381
Purpose: To promote diversity awareness and understanding through educational programming and community dialogue

Background Program Operations Outcomes


The Bridging Difference Project started over 10 years ago and focuses on increasing diversity awareness and understanding in the community. The Project operates several types of programs which include workshops, public forums and an art collection. The educational programming encourage dialogue, increase awareness and understanding, and eliminate fear and misunderstanding among different groups. The project is coordinated by the YWCA of Wausau.

Program Operations

The Bridging Difference Project started as a tutoring program, but has expanded its scope. The Friendship Building Program matches Southeast Asian (SEA) families with white families. The Diversity Awareness Training Program began in 1993 and serves the community by offering diversity trainers to work with other community organizations. Cooking and sewing classes are offered and have evolved into training programs which focus on building employment skills and English language skills for SEA women. Products from these classes are sold in the Common Threads Shop. Horizons is a mentoring program that matches SEA middle school-aged girls with professional women for mentoring. A Hmong Art Study Collection has been established to preserve the art and culture of that community. Girl Talk is an educational program that teaches communication skills for mothers and daughters. In addition, the YWCA is also starting Community Suppers to bring people of all ages and backgrounds together to discuss topics concerning the local community.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

The Bridging Difference Project has been a catalyst for practical community action directed towards improving relations and understanding among different cultural groups in the community. Several thousand people have been involved in the educational programming through the Hmong Art Study collection and the Common Threads Shop. Friendships have been built between SEA and white women through classes and the Friendship Building Program. This project continues to change and develop as the needs of the community change.

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