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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Breakthrough Silicon Valley

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Educational Services

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: •100% of our high school students take high level college prep courses including APs 88% of our high school students maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher 100% of our students attend college and 96% of them are attending four-year universities. 98% of our alumni that participated in our program from grades 7-12 are thriving in college! Colleges Attending: Brandeis University Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Georgetown University Gonzaga University Macalester College San Jose State University Santa Clara University Stanford University UC Berkeley UC Irvine UC Riverside UC Santa Cruz University of Pennsylvania

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 neighborhoodsOur 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: 400 students and more than 60 high school- and college-aged teaching fellows.

Geographic areas served: the Bay Area's Silicon Valley

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!

Community Stories

64 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Kat K.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked as a teaching fellow this past summer (2019) and had such an amazing experience. I was able to gain a hands-on teaching experience with guidance from current teachers. The connections I made with the students, inside and outside the classroom, were what truly made this an experience of a life time. Breakthrough focuses on, raises awareness for, and provides an environment for education, which is the biggest mobility factor in society, especially for these underserved first generation students.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

BTSV students are incredible! I had an incredible experience with my students this past summer.

Amber K.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Over the summer this year, I was a teaching fellow at Burnett Middle School. I had such an amazing time teaching 7th grade literature as my core class. I also taught basketball, brought students on field trips and got to know them more. The students were passionate about learning, developing friendships and building skills. I learned so much from the other teachers, instructional coaches and the staff. BTSV is amazing!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Breakthrough Silicon Valley provides a great college access program to students from low income backgrounds. Their mission is really inspiring and they provide excellent support to students in the program.

Laura M.11

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Breakthrough has an incredible dual mission and the results to match. They are truly inspirational in the field of educational and social change. To be involved with Breakthrough is to be thoroughly moved by the authentic way they seek to lift people up and strive for a fairer, more just society.

I was honored to invite friends to a recent fundraising and information evening. I was so proud to introduce others to this incredible program and felt a bit of deflected glory myself as my friends learned what I already knew: Breakthrough changes lives, changes prospects and changes our community for the better!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Breakthrough is an exceptional nonprofit whose impact stretches far beyond the incredible students it serves. This program sets students up for success, not just in high school and college but far beyond. It empowers young people to step into the best versions of themselves, to be leaders, and to make a difference for their families and in their communities. The staff members are incredibly dedicated to each and every student, providing guidance, academic support, and encouragement every step of the way. They really go the extra mile to work with students and families. The teaching fellow portion of the program also helps shape amazing high school and college students to become leaders. I can't say enough about this fabulous program!

Ricardo Lopez B.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I thank Breakthough everyday for my accomplishment of being the first in my family to obtain a College degree. Furthermore, I have exceeded my own expectations and recently graduated with a Master’s Degree as well. Breakthough helped me get to where I am today. Laying the foundation of success since I was a young child in 6th grade.

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a former student in the program, it has been great seeing the evolution of BSV over the past several years.

Thai V.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Amazing program with staffs and teachers who truly care for their students.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Breakthrough helped me from 6th grade through the end of my senior year of high school. I am now a fourth year business administration student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo set to graduate in June. I gained professional skills, self-advocacy skills, and an amazing support system throughout my entire academic career. I am so grateful for this program and hope it continues to shape the lives of other underrepresented, low-income students.

Client Served

Rating: 4

BSV has been in my life since I was 11 years old. The program coordinators watched me grow from a kid in middle school to a young woman graduating high school and moving onto college. They're not just my community; they've become my family. I still talk to my friends I met in the program. I still keep in contact with some of my teachers and program coordinators. They pushed me to succeed and helped me surpass many obstacles. For that, I am very grateful to have been a BSV student.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Breakthrough Silicon Valley is achieving outstanding results in terms of college access and success for kids in San Jose. The staff is incredibly passionate about their work. The level of support given to program participants is extensive and covers 6! years from middle school through high school, and the middle school summer enrichment experience is unrivaled in the Bay. Kids exit BSV with not only academic but social-emotional, life skills that are so important to positive outcomes in adulthood. In addition, BSV prioritizes family engagement as a key component of the program. The teaching fellows program is also unique and transformational! So many great things happening at Breakthrough.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Breakthrough is committed to helping kids succeed. The children in the program and staff are smart and motivated and a pleasure to work with.

1 Luis M.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been with Breakthrough Silicon Valley since 2006. Originally as a middle school student with the program, then as a member of the high school program and finally, full circle as a summer teaching fellow intern. Breakthrough Silicon Valley is the reason I went to and graduated from college. They also gave me my first experience as a teacher and proved to me that it would be the right career choice.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Breakthrough has grown 20% year on year for the past 5 years to the point that it now serves 550 students in San Jose. This remarkable organization helps motivated first generation low income students in the San Jose school district achieve their dreams of attending a 4 year college. The staff is dedicated and this program makes a huge difference in the valley.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Breakthrough supported my academic endevours and gave me the ability and confidence to apply for and attend a top tier four year university.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am an alumni of Breakthrough Silicon Valley and I have been so fortunate to receive tremendous amount of assistance. I was about to get a counselor to help me with applying to college and assist me with the process of graduating. I was able to go to my dream university and was able to excel with the amazing support and networks that I received from Breakthrough Silicon Valley.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A phenomenal organization that's changing the future for kids in the Bay Area!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Breakthrough as done so much for me to get me to where I am now and has allowed me to meet so many wonderful people.

Writer

Client Served

Rating: 5

Breakthrough has such an amazing support system and I know I wouldn’t be where I am without it!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

They are wonderful team, been supporting my daughter since middle school. As a parent I feel really gretful whit this organization, because They guide us about the education of our children and how they can graduate from 4 years university

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

It is because of Breakthrough that I was able to find worth in who I am and what I have to offer the world. Being brought up in a community that is predominated by first generation students, it becomes a repetitive pattern to feel like you don’t have the support to dream high. Through breakthrough and the people I met in the organization when I began my journey as a sixth grader, I was able to find strength in the obstacles that crossed me. It is because of organizations like Breakthrough that I am not fearful of striving for a 4 year college degree. As a junior in high school, it is very powerful for me to be able to say that I feel like I am college ready and a competitive applicant for my senior year. It goes without having to say it, but Breakthrough takes a large portion of the credit for that because they instilled the confidence necessary in a 6th grade first generation latina 5 summers ago that I will forever carry with me for the rest of my life.

1 Melissa C.10

Client Served

Rating: 5

I started as a 6th grader at BSV until I graduated high school. It’s thanks to Breakthrough’s amazing support, help, and community that I became first generation in my family to graduate from university. In college I went back to Breakthrough to teach multiple summers and serve as a leadership intern because I couldn’t leave this amazing organization. Even as a college graduate and working professional, I am actively involved and will continue to be for many more years. Breakthrough will forever hold a very special place in my family’s heart, because their impact was felt through me and my parents.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Breakthrough’s encouraging and understanding staff have supported me academically throughout these past 7 years. I would not have been on track to apply to college without their enriching summer camps. When I have a particular concern, whether that’s having a mock interview to prepare for an internship or requesting an AP science tutor, Breakthrough has always found a way to help me reach my goal.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I became familiar with BSV when my son worked there as a teacher. I saw the dedication of the teachers and the organization in helping level the playing field for kids from under-served communities . My son and his colleagues put in at least 60 hours per week, if not more over the summer preparing these kids for the next year.

There could be few things better than helping kids from under-served communities get on par with kids whose families are better off. I have met some of them and they become very confident in their capabilities.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am in college and this experience helped grow me as a teacher more than any other summer school program! I was pushed to create great lesson plans with a great instructional coach and even got to teach things I was passionate about for elective classes for students! All around amazing program!

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

While I was volunteering as a tutor for Breakthrough Silicon Valley, I had the opportunity to teach math to two different students. Breakthrough did a great job pairing me with students - they made sure I was comfortable with the material and that the student was motivated and eager to learn. The staff was also extremely responsive and treated me like a member of their team. They tried their best to work with my schedule - for example, I was in high school at the time, and they offered to give me finals week off. They also made sure the student was keeping up with the material and helped him or her think about what topics they want to focus on during the tutoring session. Breakthrough is doing a great job, and I think they really make a difference.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Breakthrough is amazing; they're so dedicated to their students' growth and success and it shows in everything that they do. The kids are engaged, their programs are organized and well-run, and the staff is exceptional.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Breakthrough is an inspiring organization that teaches students to rise above their circumstance so that they can accomplish what they put their mind to. As a student and teacher in the program, it has changed my life forever.

2

Former staff

Rating: 5

Breakthrough Silicon Valley is a powerful experience for students, teachers, and instructional coaches alike. For their annual summer school program, BSV teaches high school and college students how to be educators, and then helps them offer a rich, engaging curriculum to middle school students. I was amazed at how committed all BSV staff and volunteers were to their work -- it is truly an incredible community!

Vyoma P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This was definitely the best organization that I volunteered at for 2 years in high school. I wish I could have found it earlier. Dora Breyer at the SAN JOSE site is AMAZING!!! She is super nice, easy to talk to, and very accommodating. The students there are also super dedicated and you really do get to form a bond with them over time. Definitely WORTH IT!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I tutored AP Statistics to a High school senior through Breakthrough Silicon Valley and was thoroughly impressed by the commitment the staff had to ensuring the students were taken care of both academically and emotionally.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Breakthrough Silicon Valley is an amazing institution that truly fosters a sense of achievement and family within its community. As a volunteer, I see the impact it makes on my students as well as the impact it has made on me. The students are so motivated to learn and Breakthrough helps them reach their maximum potential to pursue their dreams. As for the volunteers, the experience is extremely rewarding, and the bonds formed with the students go beyond just academics. Breakthrough Silicon Valley is truly a miracle and I recommend it to anybody planning on getting involved.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have donated to Breakthrough SV, have interacted with the kids they mentor and have experienced the passion that they inspire in the students they work with. I have also directly seen the impact they can have through one of my daughter's friends who will be the first in her family to attend college after working with Breakthrough SV. It is a well run organization with a noble mission and a dedicated staff.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked as an after school math tutor at Breakthrough, and I was so touched by the genuine nature of all of the Breakthrough staff and students. The Breakthrough staff were incredibly enthusiastic and dedicated, and they inspired me to be the same! This organization has made such a profound impact on the lives of innumerable students, and will continue to do so in the future!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience with this nonprofit has been an amazing one. I have met kids that are extremely intelligent and motivated to learn. During my time with this nonprofit I have learned how to speak publicly and how to be more assertive.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am currently working as a math coach at breakthrough Silicon Valley. So far, breakthrough has been extremely organized, and all of their staff extremely nice. Their tutoring focused on problem solving which will serve the highly motivated students well into their future. Overall, I think they have done an excellent job of cultivating a positive and highly stimulating learning environment, while being extremely helpful and kind!

Former staff

Rating: 5

I worked as a Teaching Fellow at Breakthrough Silicon Valley in the summer of 2015. All the staff here, from my Instructional Coach, to the staff and board members were extremely friendly and supportive. All the staff are heavily invested in both the students' growth as well as the teachers' growth. My co-workers, the other teaching fellows, were amazing; everyone was super driven to teach their students, and inspired me to even greater heights. The students here are some of the most inspiring people I've ever had the honor to teach. Despite their circumstances, their tenaciousness to succeed is phenomenal. I would highly recommend Breakthrough Silicon Valley to everyone. It has contributed to my growth as a person greatly.

Jenna26

Former staff

Rating: 5

Breakthrough Silicon Valley is an impeccable organization overall. As a summer teacher, Breakthrough gave me the skills that I needed to be a teacher in the future. I was able to actually teach and mentor kids, which was an incredible opportunity for me as that is my intended career path. Before working with Breakthrough, I could 100% back up BSV's mission. After working with Breakthrough, I too am united in their mission to help the academically motivated kids to make it to college. I could not have imagined my summer (or current school year working with BSV) doing anything else, because the skills and experiences I gained from Breakthrough are invaluable. They are an incredible nonprofit!

Volunteer

Rating: 4

They are awesome. I helped volunteer at one of their events.

Pranav J.

Former staff

Rating: 5

I am a former writing teacher for Breakthrough Silicon Valley. I will always remember the rewarding experiences I had while working towards a goal that is so meaningful to me: educational equality. This program helped me understand the importance of education and helped me appreciate the opportunities that I have. More than that, it inspired me. As a senior in high school, I now know that what I want to do in this world will be directed at helping others in unfortunate economic situations, specifically in the realm of education policy.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Breakthrough Silicon Valley for 3 years as a volunteer. I have met many Breakthrough students and I've heard their stories. I love this organization because it not only provides them with the academic support to succeed in high school and the college application process., it also gives them skills and confidence to succeed in college. Many of these students have challenging "home" environments where not everyone around them places a high value on education, and many of them need help building a strong support system needed for success. Breakthrough has an outstanding and incredibly committed staff. It's been a privilege working with and contributing to this organization.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Breakthrough SV does a fantastic job preparing low-income, high-potential kids for college. The staff is extremely dedicated, professional, and lean; this is absolutely a top nonprofit.

1 Abe L.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Breakthrough is a nonprofit with inspiring young people and a tremendously talented staff. Since moving to California from Denver, I have been blown away by the amount of time, energy and strategy that is put into this program. The students who are a part of Breakthrough truly leave changed, inspired and well-educated. This organization is life-changing for young people who wouldn't otherwise graduate high school, let alone go on to a 4-year university.

2 Susan

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

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).

mscale

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Previous Stories
1

Donor

Rating: 4

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.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been associated with Breakthrough Silicon Valley for many years. The relationships that they build with students and families is phenomenal. It is the secrete sauce that makes them so successful. I have been in education for twenty-six years and no other non profit supports first time college going students better then Breakthrough Silicon Valley!

Donor

Rating: 5

Our company has been involved with breakthrough for the last three years and we are continually impressed by their students as well as their staff- we work with many non-profits in Silicon Valley and breakthrough sets the bar with a clear mission and measurable results. The staff & chaperones (volunteers) are incredible mentors to the students and their care is evident in the success of each student. The youth exit the program with confidence and real world experience through the immersive curriculum that breakthrough offers which includes exposure to a variety of careers. Breakthrough ensures that the youth in our valley become the brightest minds and leaders of tomorrow.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a wonderful non-profit both to work for and for the kids who are served. No program I know of makes a greater attempt to curb the education inequities in this country.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This is my 20th year in education serving as a non-profit administrator, a teacher or a consultant. Breakthrough gave me my start as a teacher all those years ago. It honors the skill, commitment, will, and passion of high school and college undergraduates to teach students. Many programs use the older students as assistants but Breakthrough understands the value of relationships in academics.
On the student side, it is the best program that I have experience with that positively changes the lives of young people. It gives them a sense of themselves as future high school and college students. It deepens their belief in their own dreams and the commitment of their families in them.
It is a special program that anyone interested in schools and children should investigate. There should be no question that Breakthrough is worth your investment.

Donor

Rating: 5

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!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have taught with Breakthrough the past three years and have seen first-hand how it changes the lives of both the middle school students and the high school and college teachers.

I am currently working toward my elementary teaching credential, and am so thankful for the first-hand experience I gained at BSV. I certainly learned more there than I have in any class!

BSV is everything a non-profit should be. The leaders truly care about the students and teachers and work relentlessly for the cause. They use the resources they have available to make a meaningful and visual impact on the populations they serve. They are introspective, and, consequentially, BSV is continuously changing and improving.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

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.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I commend Breakthrough's innovative, positive approach at offering support to children with high academic ability and readiness to engage in higher education. A program such as this is helpful and appealing to students with an intellectual appreciation for learning beyond the normal spectrum of California standards.
It is exciting to see such dedication in the educators that have bestowed their time to helping the young people of Silicon Valley to thrive and to meet their true potential.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Looking forward to more events with BREAKTHROUGH. They're highly organized, positive, and serve a great cause. Wish they were around when I was growing up, to learn about the variety of opportunities that lay before us when we're young.

Preethy P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Breakthrough has inspired young girls in middle and high school stay focused on education and build confidence. Their work has greatly benefited San Jose schools and will be valuable to be adopted in other school districts

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

BSV was a hugely important part of my college life. I worked as a teacher for their program and it shaped my future! Through my work with Breakthrough Silicon Valley, I decided to become a teacher, and now I am working to get my certification.

Jenny2345

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

Our company has hosted and participated in many BSV events. This is a successful organization that builds leaders for tomorrow!

Lee Anna B.

Donor

Rating: 5

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