Breakthrough Silicon Valley

Rating: 4.79 stars   14 reviews

Issues: Education

Location: 1635 Park Avenue San Jose CA 95126 USA

Mission: Breakthrough Silicon Valley prepares motivated middle school students with limited educational opportunities for success in college preparatory high school programs and entry into four-year colleges. BSV also prepares outstanding college and high school students to enter careers in education.
Results: • 82% of BSV students enroll in geometry or higher by the 9th grade • 85% of our high school students have a GPA of 3.0 or higher in college prep classes • 92% of BSV students are attending four-year universities, including: Brandeis University Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Cornell University Macalester College Ohio Wesleyan San Jose State University Santa Clara University Stanford University UC Berkeley UC Davis UC Santa Cruz • 76% of our teaching interns pursue careers in education upon college graduation
Target demographics: Breakthrough students are hard working, motivated, and have hopes for their futures. However, they are also confronting obstacles that challenge their college dreams. • 86% will be first in family to attend college • 70% receive free or reduced lunch • 92% are students of color • 73% live in gang-impacted neighborhoods Our 45 teaching interns are high achieving students, many from similar backgrounds as our students. They serve not only as teachers, but also as powerful role-models for the middle schoolers. • 72% are students of color • 20% are Breakthrough student alumni • 3.5 is their average GPA at top schools such as Bellarmine College Preparatory, Leland High School, Cornell, Stanford, Brown, and UC Berkeley.
Direct beneficiaries per year: 200 students 45 student teachers
Programs: Middle School Program: Middle school students participate in three six-week academic summer sessions (after 6th, 7th, and 8th grade) studying Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Geometry, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Writing, Literature, and academic electives in classrooms of no more than eight students. The summer also features field trips, career development events, and enrichment classes in art, sports, and music. During the school year students meet twice per week in our Math-based After School Program designed to address math skill gaps and prepare them for Geometry by the 9th grade. All the teaching is done by high achieving high school and college students who under the training and guidance of professional, experienced teachers learn how to teach. In addition, BSV advises and assists all 8th grade parents and students as they select and/or apply to the most competitive and best suited college preparatory high schools in the area. College Bound High School Program: Once in high school we continue to work with the students to ensure that they remain on a college prep track and enroll in four-year colleges. Students participate in monthly college readiness workshops, a two-year financial literacy course, an ACT prep course, and college tours. In addition, students receive semester grade monitoring and tutoring if needed, academic advising and course selection for the following school year, advising on summer opportunities and internships, and laptops if needed. During the junior and senior years there is intensive college and financial aid counseling. Teaching Internships: To fulfill the second half of BSV’s mission, we provide 40 teaching internships. After school teaching is a 75-hour internship while the summer teaching is a 300-hour internship. Under the support and guidance of professional, experienced teachers, our young teachers learn how to write lesson plans, manage classrooms, develop curriculum and teach. It is a hands-on teaching internship that has been rated by The Princeton Review as one of the top 10 internships in the USA!
2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

I attended BSV's summer Visitor's Day, and was VERY impressed with the design and implementation of their program. The students and the teachers were all engaged and enthusiastic, and the testimonials were moving. A special bonus was hearing the founder, Lois Loofbourrow, speak about the history and results of the Breakthrough Collaborative. She gave me goosebumps!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

hearing the students and teachers speak about how Breakthrough changed their lives.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I wouldn't make any changes.

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Rating: 5 stars  

The Breakthrough students' achievements are stunning, and their graduation rate amazing. We spent part of a day attending some of the classes and saw for ourselves the innovative small classrooms and clever teaching ideas. Their financial management is sound and rational, and they deserve a closer look by all possible funders.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

...watching their excellent graduation rates over the last 2-3 years.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

...give them more money (someone else's hopefully).

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What specific problem, purpose, priority, or project prompted your gift?

Their focus on programs for girls and not just unisex programs.

Why did you make your donation at this time?

They need it!

What would you tell others about this organization?

Come see for yourselves how well Breakthrough students are doing.

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Rating: 5 stars  

Breakthrough SV is a wonderful organization with a creative vision, successful outcomes, dynamic leadership and wide appeal.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've heard the experiences of students, parents and staff in this organization.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Broaden ability to admit more students.

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Rating: 4 stars  

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've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

meeting the students on a number of occasions and hearing first hand how their confidence level has increased with their academic work, and how they regard the Breakthrough staff as a second family, always there to support them in acheiving their ambitions.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

want to see it more engaged with other local nonprofits that work with a similar population in high schools.

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