Bridges to Prosperity

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Bridges to Prosperity
Founded 2001
Founder Kenneth Randall Frantz
Type Non-governmental organization
Focus Rural poor transportation, footbridges
Area served
14 countries
Method Leverage technical expertise, ingenuity, & compassion to create safe river crossings, through collaborative bridge building programs inspiring personal achievement
Key people
Avery Bang (Exec Director); Abbie Noriega (Development Director); Zoe Pacciani (Director of Operations); Robyn Long (Director of Grants and Administration)
US$2.3 million (fy 2011-12)
Children crossing a new footbridge built with Bridges to Prosperity in El Salvador.

Bridges to Prosperity is a United States-based nonprofit organization that builds footbridges and trains local people in developing countries to build pedestrian bridges. It was established by Kenneth Frantz in 2001, after seeing a photo in National Geographic Magazine of a broken bridge over the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia, with ten men on either side of the broken span pulling themselves across the chasm by rope.[1] Bridges to Prosperity is now based in the Denver, Colorado, area.

Footbridges are simple and inexpensive enough for rural communities to build with only modest outside help, and they provide major benefits such as improved safety and access to markets, schools and medical care.

Typically, the training is done through Community Bridge Building programs in which Bridges to Prosperity trains in-country partner organizations or government agencies in both engineering and organizational techniques.[2] Since its founding in March 2001, Bridges to Prosperity or their technology has built over 100 footbridges,[3] and expanded to 14 countries across Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. Bridges to Prosperity is supported by and partners with a number of other organizations such as Rotary International.[4]


Bridges to Prosperity's mission and vision focuses on building footbridges over impassable rivers using education, innovation, inspiration and results.[5]


Men pull each other across Blue Nile River by rope prior to Bridge to Prosperity building new bridge.
New Blue Nile River suspended bridge completed in 2009 serves over 10,000 rural Ethiopians.

Transport is a crucial driver of development, bringing socio-economic opportunities within the reach of the poor and enabling economies to be more competitive. Transport infrastructure connects people to jobs, education, and health services; it enables the supply of goods and services around the world; and allows people to interact and generate the knowledge that creates long-term growth. Rural roads, for example, can help prevent maternal deaths through timely access to childbirth-related care, boost girls’ enrollment in school, and increase and diversify farmers’ income by connecting them to markets.[6]

The World Bank estimates that over 1 billion people do not have access to transportation networks.[1] B2P determined that positive results could be attained by spreading the technology by building approximately 10-20 demonstration bridges per country, training locals, partnering with local technological institutes, providing downloadable & easy to use step by step photo and video manuals, and supplying free wire rope and wire rope clamps/clips for post training/demonstration programs.[1] As there is much relating to best practices B2P has focused on education and training, and the propagation of technical manuals, and footbridge building text books.[1]

Bridges to Prosperity provides the needed capital in the form of free recycled wire rope and strand.[1] Best practice dictates that when capital is provided in this manner, that there are no unintended consequences, e.g. B2P does not provide free cable to countries where there is an existing or budding wire rope industry.[1] Materials are not donated where that would cause unintended harm to existing business. In 2005, B2P received a long term donation of free 7/8 inch to 1.25 inch wire rope from the ports of Portsmouth and Norfolk, Virginia.[7] The wire rope donated was American manufactured high tensile steel wire rope used on gantry cranes for unloading container ships. Later, the port of Baltimore was added, as were Texas and west coast ports. In 2012, approximately 100,000 feet of such donated used wire rope and strand was shipped in an intermodal container to programs all over the world. To build one footbridge, the average number of feet of wire rope required is approximately 1,800 feet. Worldwide, there is enough recycled wire rope from gantry cranes to build approximately 2,500 footbridges every year. Each container shipped overseas weighs approximately 52,000 pounds and contains 20,000 feet of cable.

Corporate sponsorship[edit]

Team members celebrate completion of Bosque, El Salvador bridge

Building on the affinity with construction firms, especially those that design and build highway bridges, a corporate sponsor program was started; to allow employees to form teams to design and build footbridges.

Sponsors include Ross Construction[8] of Palo Alto, California, Parsons Brinckerhoff of Australia[9] and Flatiron Construction,[10] along with Flatiron's parent company, Hochtief of Germany, and Turner Construction, USA,[11]


An important supporter have been various Rotary International clubs who collaborate in providing Rotary Foundation matched humanitarian grants.[12]

When Bridges to Prosperity was founded, Kenneth Frantz was a member of the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in Gloucester, Virginia.[1] That club assisted in the purchase of materials for the repair of the Blue Nile Bridge. There are now over 65 rotary clubs worldwide (and over 800 individual Rotarians) who have participated directly in Bridges to Prosperity programs. Partnerships with the local developing country rotary clubs, such as the Rotary Club of Nkwazi, Lusaka, Zambia, facilitate access and operation in countries with little bureaucratic interference.[1] The partnerships with local Rotary clubs allow quick customs clearance of wire rope imports and expedited business contacts, allow USA based Rotarians to easily travel and participate in schemes as well as adding a defense against potential corruption.

University programs[edit]

University of Iowa (Continental Crossing) engineering school footbridge in Honduras

Support from Executive Director Avery Bang’s alma mater, the University of Iowa engineering school, and non-profit Continental Crossings[13] has led the construction of three additional bridges.[13] There are now over 10 each Bridges to Prosperity university chapters in the USA. To start the university program, a fund was established by the Signe Ostby and Scott Cook family.

Other university engineering programs include:

Financial information[edit]

Bridges to Prosperity footbridge in Chaypara, central Peru

In the fiscal year ending 8/2012, the organisation had revenues of $2,289,404[18] contributed as follows:

  • Corporate sponsors = 16.8%
  • Grants & Foundations = 38%
  • In-kind donations (wire rope, technical design, etc.)= 33.1%
  • Material sponsors = 10.4%
  • Membership & donors = 1.7%


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Interview, Frantz, 10-2011; re-interviewed by independent team on 12-1-11 to comply with Wikipedia outside source recommendations"
  2. ^ "Bridges to Prosperity". 
  3. ^ note: bridges are numbered on website
  4. ^ Partners with Bridges to Prosperity
  5. ^ "Vision, Mission, and Principle Strategies". Bridges to Prosperity. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Ross Construction
  9. ^ "Bridging the Gap". Engineers Australia (Engineers Australia Pty Limited) 83 (1): 20. 1 January 2011. ISSN 1448-4951. 
  10. ^ Flatiron Construction
  11. ^ Interview Kenneth Frantz 10/2/2011; Flatiron website
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b Continental Crossings
  14. ^ "Bridges to Prosperity at Arizona State". Arizona State University. 
  15. ^ ND SEED,
  16. ^ "Bridges to Prosperity at Virginia Tech". Virginia Tech University. 
  17. ^ Mia Perry (28 March 2011). "A bridge to prosperity: Tech students help Haiti". Collegiate Times. 
  18. ^ Interview Kenneth Frantz Founder Bridges to Prosperity 10/2/2011 & cross checked against Malvin Riggins audit posted on website

External links[edit]