Building Bridges Leaders Receive Community Impact Award

The DC Building Industry Association (DCBIA) has honored leaders from Building Bridges Across the River, WC Smith’s nonprofit partner that company CEO and Chairman Chris Smith founded in 1997.

Receiving DCBIA’s Community Impact Award are Rahsaan Bernard, president of Building Bridges; Scott Kratz, Building Bridges senior vice president and director of the 11th Street Bridge Park; and Anne-Marie Bairstow, director of the Skyland Workforce Center.

Chris Smith created Building Bridges to build and manage THEARC, which is now the largest social service multi-sector nonprofit collaboration in the country. Located in Washington, DC’s Congress Heights neighborhood, the 203,000 square foot facility hosts 14 resident nonprofit partners and serves more than 85,000 people annually. WC Smith has contributed more than $8 million to THEARC.

The 11th Street Bridge Park, a project of Building Bridges, is DC’s first elevated public park. Located on the piers of the old 11th Street Bridge, this venue will be a space for healthy recreation, environmental education, and the arts and has been implementing community-driven equitable development strategies since 2016.

In response to the great need for employment opportunities and job skills training in the neighborhoods near Skyland Town Center, WC Smith and retail partner Rappaport founded the Skyland Workforce Center.   WC Smith rented a 5,000 square foot facility on Good Hope Road SE, hired staff and partnered with nonprofit organizations to provide an array of employment-related services for unemployed and underemployed residents.  Since its launch in 2014, SWC has served more than 6,300 DC residents and placed 880 people in jobs spanning a wide range of fields.