The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) at the University of Michigan is taking a significant new step to better support high-achieving students from diverse backgrounds. Today, LSA announced the launch of Bridge Scholars Plus (BSP), a new living-learning community offered by the Comprehensive Studies Program (CSP). This opportunity will be open to 150 first-year students through CSP’s long-standing Summer Bridge Scholars Program.

Bridge Scholars Plus will include the top students from across Michigan and the country, and aims to strengthen students’ residential experience on campus, empowering them to explore and create immense opportunities on U-M’s campus.

Bridge Scholars Plus will be centrally located in the South Quad residence hall. CSP will partner with the LSA Honors Program and optiMize to deliver a variety of community programming. The new community will feature participation in the optiMize Social Innovation Challenge, an incubator for students to develop self-directed projects and ideas for social impact, and pitch for up to $10,000 to continue growing their project.

“Students have told us that this type of support would help them thrive,” said Kierra Trotter, director of CSP and one of the architects of the new program. “We’re acting on that feedback, building a living-learning community that fosters confidence through a sense of belonging, which is a key factor in students’ academic and social success.”

Bridge Scholars Plus builds upon the Summer Bridge Scholars Program, a seven-week academic program, created in 1975, that bridges gaps in opportunity created by inequitable systems in education. Students admitted to the Summer Bridge Scholars Program gain a competitive edge as they enter the fall by taking a full course load and engaging in peer mentorship, holistic academic advising, and peer-assisted learning.  

For decades, students have expressed that the Summer Bridge Scholars Program creates a sense of belonging and community at U-M, but those feelings often dwindle in the fall semester as they join the larger campus community. Bridge Scholars Plus was created to extend the connectedness students felt during their first summer term, throughout their entire first year. While summer programs are common, this new year-long community is unique among university approaches.

“We are very excited to launch the Bridge Scholars Plus program. The Comprehensive Studies Program is a national model, and it continues to play an essential role in attracting and retaining a more diverse group of undergraduate students and creating a more inclusive student culture within LSA and across the university,” said Anne Curzan, dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan. “The Summer Bridge Scholars program fosters a remarkable community for students over the summer—it is always a highlight of my summer to spend time with students in the program. And now we get to extend the living-learning community into the academic year. This is all part of our commitment to creating an environment where students from all backgrounds and experiences can thrive and feel valued.”

The launch of Bridge Scholars Plus coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Comprehensive Studies Program. Forged out of three decades of organized, direct action led by the Black Action Movement (BAM), CSP serves over 3,000 undergraduate students by empowering them to take ownership of their learning and be leaders in and beyond the university, and advocating for the recruitment, retainment, and support of underrepresented and minoritized student populations. 

To learn more about the Comprehensive Studies Program, visit the website