Tibetan Bridge

About Tibetan Bridge

Samten DakpaSamdak’s Story

Samten Dakpa was born in the nomadic region of Eastern Tibet known as Khampa. He was the seventh of nine children. There was no money to send young Samdak (as he is known) to school so he herded goats, sheep and yak all day. As a young boy waiting for the herd to finish grazing, he began teaching himself to draw in the snow, dirt, mud or anywhere he could leave a trace.  By the time he was discovered creating ice sculptures and unique land art in the frozen lakes, he was only a teen-ager.

Monks in the monastery wondered where he learned his high level of skill in Tangkha painting. Achieving such craftsmanship without pencils, paint or paper convinced them that he was a reincarnation of a great master.

At an early age he won regional competitions and was competing for commissions with masters twice his age.  His journey out of Tibet into India, then to New York City, is a miracle that astounds people almost as much as the beautiful paintings, sculptures and architectural designs Samdak has created.

He is trying to give that blessing back to the children of the region he grew up in by building a community center through the Tibetan Bridge Foundation. As Executive Director, he hopes to bring a new level of understanding and awareness to the region and to the world regarding Tibetan education.

Tibetan mountains

Mission Statement

The Tibetan Bridge Foundation is a New York-based, non-profit organization created to address the current gap in education and cultural opportunity in rural Eastern Tibet for children ages 4 to 13. Due to financial and spatial limitations within the local public school system, these children do not have proper access to education. Roughly 40% of Tibetan children are not enrolled in school. Many other factors are creating this educational gap in Eastern Tibet as the region continues to open up to a large tourist population, Chinese modernization, and international influence. As a result, the driving need to give Tibetan children in this region access to education is ever-present.

The Tibetan Bridge Foundation is a non-political entity that intends to offset educational financial burdens and address long-term educational needs in two unique ways. First, the Foundation will build a community center in Eastern Tibet and second, it will develop a long-term specialized educational placement program that is non-denominational and internationally focused.

Both the school and placement program will create a foundation for an educated future workforce of Tibetan adults. The expectation is that the children who attend the school and participate in the placement program will acquire the tools and resources to develop into adults who can utilize their educations and create future opportunities for their families, communities, and villages. By doing so, they will be able help strengthen the region of Eastern Tibet from an educational and developmental perspective. It will also allow them to gain access to the greater world-at-large. A number of Chinese, foreigners, and foreign investment enterprises have already expressed interest in the Tibetan Bridge Foundation to help it realize its goals.

Educational Philosophies

Tibetan mountainsThe theoretical underpinning of the school's philosophy is that an individual must be intrinsically motivated to succeed. Tibetan Bridge training for its staff is toward creating an atmosphere that enables its children to feel accepted and approved. The Tibetan Bridge means a connection for Tibetan children to the larger world.

Our children are nurtured as miracles of creation and supreme gifts to mankind. They are constantly reminded, by word and action, that they are special and unique and positive reinforcement is used for acceptable behavior. Children will also be encouraged to mentor one another informally and through a program of volunteer peer assistance.

The educational program of the Tibetan Bridge fosters holistic development on several levels- moral, spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional and psychosocial. This should prepare children, fueled by a positive sense of self, to brave the challenges ahead with the confidence of their ability to succeed. Tibetan Bridge is a community of students, teachers and parents united for academic excellence and personal fulfillment via an individual approach to education which serves the whole child.

Critical Components of the Center

  1. Solid Core Curriculum
    Tibetan Bridge primary school forms the core of our educational program with additions and modifications. A thematic approach, which integrates the various subject areas is used. The result is a holistic curriculum that is achieved through a variety of innovative techniques focused interventions and the infusion of psychological principles into the regular classroom activities.
  2. Multilingual Competence
    As international borders collapse, Tibet grows closer culturally to Chinese, Nepalese, Indian and English speaking regions. The realization of this situation led to the introduction of foreign languages in the curriculum. While Chinese language is part of the regular curriculum from the state public schools, Tibetan and English are to be introduced from the preschool level and continues through the primary grades. There are cultural and language exchanges with the Chinese, Nepalese, Indian, Bhutanese and English speaking world.
  3. Multicultural Education
    Children and teachers at the Tibetan Bridge also come from a few different cultures allowing us the privilege of multicultural education in a holistic educational program. Special themes and programs relating to multicultural awareness are developed and delivered. Ongoing exposure to other cultures can help to increase tolerance and goodwill as children learn to acknowledge and appreciate the differences in people and foster an enriched educational experience.
  4. Creative and Expressive Skill Development
    Tibetan Bridge provides a systematic program for the development of the child's creative and expressive skills. This program includes providing opportunities for the children to create and express themselves through art, dance, music, drama, storytelling, poetry, writing, and the use of their imagination through non-traditional, cultural forms.
  5. Parental and Community Involvement
    Cognizant of the fact that parental involvement is important to the success of the learning process during the intake interview the school administrator advises parents that a verbal and written commitment of their involvement in the school's program and PTA meetings will be required upon their children's admission. A Parent Assessment category is included in the children's report card. Tibetan Bridge aims at providing opportunities for parental development through workshops for both parents and members of the community. Parents are also being encouraged to become involved in events to raise funds for the maintenance of the school. Parents are also expected to provide the necessary money to feed the child during their semester at the Tibetan Bridge.
  6. Positive Gender relations
    Tibetan Bridge endeavors to promote healthy gender relations, positive role models of both genders and respect for all. It also aims at minimizing the impact of stereotyping.
  7. Environmental Awareness
    The importance of caring for our environment is infused though the general curriculum. For example students will be regularly involved in ongoing ecological and energy conservation activities.
  8. Affordable Inclusive System
    Tibetan Bridge will continue to be accessible to students from a wide cross section of the Kham community and non-Kham residents in the region.
  9. Safe, Nurturing and Stimulating Environment
    Students are exposed to a bright stimulating environment and are supervised in the mornings on the playground, during lunch hour and after school.
  10. Qualified Committed Teaching Staff
    The quality and commitment of teachers in the education system is a major determinant of Tibetan bridge's success. Teachers are carefully scouted, screened and recruited by our Tibetan-Side Board of Directors. They are regularly reminded of the importance of understanding the philosophy of Tibetan Bridge which must be demonstrated in their professional attitudes.
  11. Holistic Approach
    The educational program of Tibetan Bridge fosters holistic development at several levels- moral, spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional and psychological. This should prepare children to face the challenges ahead, fueled be a positive sense of self and with the confidence of their ability to succeed.
  12. Positive Self Esteem and Commitment
    The schools theme is encapsulated in the name "Tibetan Bridge" which can be interpreted as a way for children to cross the threshold of learning to compete and succeed. To that end the Tibetan Bridge Child of The Week program provides opportunities for each child to receive positive acknowledgment and appreciation from his/her classmates every week.
  13. Technology
    Tibetan Bridge will accept donated technology from world-wide sources, including the use of computers and peripherals to enhance the teaching and learning experience.

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Tibetan Bridge was registered as a "not for profit" corporation in New York in March 2009. We completed all the necessary documentation for state income tax exemption and all papers for the federal exemptions in June, 2008.
We are now able to accept both large and small donations.
All donations received after March 19, 2008 are tax deductible.

On February 10, 2009 we received the IRS approval as a 501 (c) (3) organization retroactive to March 19, 2008.

The IRS DLN is 17053176354008.    Our IRS public charity status is 170 (b) (1) (A) (vi).


US public charity 501 (c) (3) classification: 170 (b) (1) (A) (vi)
Federal Tax ID: 26-2132799
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Tibetan Bridge

IRS Tax Exemption Letter