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The Bridges Institute

The Bridges Institute is an Africa-focused 501(c)(3) international affairs institute linking the international private sector, civil society, policy-makers, diaspora, and governments to strengthen African governance and​ democracy.


The Bridges Institute:
Connecting Africa with Global Partners to Strengthen African Democracy and Governance

The Bridges Institute was founded in 2009. It is a nonprofit that has worked to strengthen African democracy and governance through global partnerships within and between the United States, Africa, the European Union and the global African Diaspora.

Through its high level African Policy Group, Bridges has connected senior experts, senior US Government policymakers, and leading practitioners and political leaders from Africa to share knowledge, develop solutions, and build lasting relationships for democracy and governance. These connections have extended to the community level, promoting food security, women's participation, and democratic resilience in a variety of African countries.

After the 2012 coup in Mali, Bridges brought together public, private, and civil society stakeholders to meet with senior US Government officials, through its Mali Watch. Bridges had pioneered this formula of crisis watching, whereby group members connect, assess the situation, develop criteria for success, and formulate joint solutions.

The Mali Watch built strong enduring partnerships with local groups and stressed the importance of sustained citizen engagement in restoring a failed democracy.  In recognition of these efforts, in 2021 the Government of Mali awarded Bridges’ founder, Vivian Lowery Derryck, the Knight of the National Order of Mali Medal, its highest honor for a non-Malian.

After years of similar engagement in Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, and the broader Sahel, the Bridges Institute decided to progressively hand over its ongoing programs to its partners. In particular, in 2023 its long-time community of experts, the Africa Policy Group, has become part of the Institute for Africa Studies at the George Washington University, alongside the African Women and Food Security Program. Meanwhile, the Mali Affinity Group, the successor to Mali Watch, continues under the leadership of Search for Common Ground.


A new lecture series on Africa has been founded by Bridges at George Washington University.


Work on Democracy issues in America continues.  


You are invited to follow these programs and support them through Bridges on behalf of the Bridges-George Washington University partnership.


The Bridges Institute has partnered with a variety of organizations, including:

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