Breakthrough Silicon Valley is a high impact organization that touches the lives of college bound children at a crucial inflection point of their growth and development. The challenges that many children in the public from homes where there are no parents with advanced degrees compared to their peers that have the benefit of parents that are at a minimum college educated are steep. Breakthrough provides children that have the willingness and desire resources and support to make help them achieve their goals.
I wish every student and potential teacher could have the kind of opportunities and support that Breakthrough provides! This program has a track record of changing the life trajectory of many deserving students and making their families proud.
I am impressed with BSV. It has a very broad view of what students from limited opportunity backgrounds need to help them attend reputable four year colleges. They are very empirical. They evaluate the effectiveness of what they do and are ready to change when the outcomes are not as strong as they desire. Evaluation is undertaken at relatively frequent intervals, so they know what is working.
Additionally, BSV is the most cost effective foundation that I have ever worked with. Relatively small amounts of money go a long way. Not surprisingly, BSV is a very effective organization that delivers what they promise. More than 95
% of students who stay with the program for six years are indeed accepted into four year colleges.
Breakthrough Silicon Valley is impressive in the breadth and depth of support they provide for students across 5 or 6 years of high school. The enormous array of educational and academic services provided to students has real results -- most of the students indeed get accepted at colleges (and in almost all instances are the first of their family to do so).
Since I last reviewed BSV in 2010, this organization has grown enormously in ambition and scope. It is now serving about 400 students a year in two school districts. I continue to be impressed by the close relationship the organization forges with the participating students - the staff really get to know the students as individuals, and also engage continuously and positively with their families - and the way it keeps them switched on to learning. BSV's success rate in helping students into 4 year colleges is also impressive. This organization deserves all the support it gets. The staff are first rate too - very committed.
This nonprofit - which now goes by the name Breakthrough Silicon Valley - is part of the Breakthrough Collective. It has been in existence about six years. I am both a donor to, and a volunteer with, Breakthrough Silicon Valley. The goal of the organization is to support high potential, low income students onto the college track. About 180 students are served in the San Jose area each year, currently 7th and 8th graders, though there are plans to expand the program through high school. Most of the students will be the first in their families to go to college. The majority are people of color. About 60% are girls. During the school year the emphasis in the program is on math, while the summer school branches out into social studies, science, and other fields.
One of the neat features of the program is that it grows teachers. During the school year, most of the tutoring is provided by senior high school and community college students. During the six week summer program, this is supplemented by teachers who are students at four year colleges, including places like Stanford, Berkeley, and Princeton. These student teachers are mentored by professional teachers. The majority of the young teachers develop a love for teaching. a better understanding of what it involves, and an intention to go into teaching as a profession. Importantly, the majority of them - some 70% - are also people of color.
Breakthrough Silicon Valley does a great job getting the kids through 8th grade algebra, far surpassing the results of the school district as a whole.
They are a small but energetic group with ambitions to replicate the program in other appropriate locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. The ED is Latino, as are two of the other staff; while the fourth member of staff is an African American who attended Breakthrough in San Francisco before going on to Stanford.
I have been involved with the Breakthrough Collaborative since 1994 and am incredibly honored to be a part of BSV. This is a life-changing organization for young, ambitious students who are determined to go to college but may have obstacles or limited educational opportunities. Also, Breakthrough inspired college students to pursue teaching as a career. Many BSV teachers go on to serve in Teach for America and most pursue careers in education. I am impressed with the leadership of the staff and with the commitment to results -- highly prepared, college bound students.