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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

The Breakthrough Collaborative Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Education, Educational Services, Secondary & High Schools, Youth Development, Youth Development Programs

Mission: The mission of Breakthrough is to increase the educational trajectory of motivated, low-income middle school students and inspire talented high school and college students to pursue careers in education.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 5,000 Breakthrough students and 1,000 teaching fellows

Programs: Breakthrough runs tuition-free, academically intense programs in which a diverse group of underserved middle school students learn the academic and leadership skills they will need to succeed in college preparatory high schools, in college, and throughout life. The core of the Breakthrough model is an intensive six-week summer program which includes rigorous academics, creative arts, and spirit-filled group activities. Students average more than two hours of homework each night. During the school year, students attend after-school and/or Saturday sessions. Like the summer sessions, the school-year activities complement and expand upon what the students are learning in their regular schools, with a particular emphasis on skill-building and enrichment.

Community Stories

94 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Mark B.7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had a fantastic time working for Breakthrough Santa Fe. This program is deeply inspiring for students and fantastic at preparing future teachers.The professional staff holds everyone to a high standard, yet the programming and support make each activity and class so fun. It is the quintessential summer job for anyone interested in education and any student who dreams of graduating college when the odds are stacked against them.

Ali K.2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The first day I stepped into a Breakthrough classroom, I had no idea what to expect from the summer. Once I jumped in all at once, I realized my deep love for teaching, collaborating with co-teachers, and most importantly, my kids. Despite long hours and tons of preparation, it was never something I dreaded doing because I loved my kids so dearly and would do anything to ensure their quality education. Because of Breakthrough, my professional goals and the things that are important to me personally have changed. Rather than pursing a MD or PhD right out of college, I am moving to DC to work for Urban Teachers with one of my co-teachers from Houston, Courtney (pictured right).

D'Shay P.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This past summer I had the extreme pleasure of working as a teaching fellow for Breakthrough Houston (KIPP Connect location). I can honestly say this program has and will continue to change lives. Over a period of 8 weeks I have seen myself grow tremendously! I came in believing I was going to change the lives of my students, but in actuality this program gave me an even better gift. It helped me develop life long skills, and those skills gave me the ability to always give my best efforts. When I first heard about this program's mission, to prepare high academic students, who may not have the necessary resources, for college admission, I knew immediately I had to be a part of this program. Where I am from we do not have many programs that strive on the pureness of wanting to better students in their community, and assist them in making their dreams become reality. That along demonstrates how much Breakthrough truly cares about their people. Becoming a part of the breakthrough family was one of the best decisions I have every made, and I will forever be grateful for it.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Waking up at 6 a.m. every morning was a tough task, but it quickly became not only a habit but a joyful experience. Greeting my students with high-energy chants, high-fives, and inspirational words empowered me as much as it empowered them. In class, we became a small community dedicated to learning. During the remainder of each day, I grew closer to a vast majority of students inside and out of my classroom simply by being goofy and listening to whatever they had to say. I'll always look back warmly at how much those students inspired and brightened my life as much as I did the same for them.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My whole life, I’ve been “good” at school. I was never afraid to raise my hand in class, I always participated, and attempted the assignments, even if I didn’t like them. I never really understood students who didn’t do this. Obviously, it was what the teachers wanted, and it was easy enough to give them. My biggest fear was disappointing an authority figure so I always did what was expected of me. I’ll admit that I thought students who didn’t participate in class were less intelligent, so I tried to distance myself from them. Obviously, this implicit bias needed to be challenged. This is why I am eternally grateful for a student I taught at Breakthrough this summer. For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call him “N.” This is the story of how N changed my mind, impacted my life, and challenged my views on the world of education.
N is a very quiet student. He is always hesitant to participate, and he only engages when he is specifically called on. He’s also very soft spoken and mumbles through his answers. However quiet or jumbled his answers are, his intelligence shines through. He finds a way for every person in the room to hang on to every word he says. N was in my Block C class, which is one of the rowdier groups I’ve ever lead. I constantly felt like I had to be their disciplinarian rather than their friend. Because of this, I thought that I was failing their class. I wanted to find a way to fix the relationship I thought I was ruining, but I couldn’t see a way to do this. I was so worried that I had done these students an injustice and would be a reminder of the failings of the system. I was heartbroken at the thought.
However, at the end of the program, every student in Block C improved their post-test score. N improved by almost 20%. Numerically, I hadn’t failed these students. I was worried about the rest of their experience until the very last day of programming. During our final gratitude activity, N came up and gave me a big hug. He said that I was the best English teacher he’s ever had.
The whole summer, I tried to meet these students where they’re at. I knew that I couldn’t counteract every aspect of the system that has failed them, but I could at least provide a constant source of unconditional positive regard in their lives. This, I learned, is not something that the world of education values. The world of education often fails these students by penalizing them, or writing them off as lesser students. N taught me that a student may be quiet and learning. He reminded me why I love working with students, and that everyone needs a source of positivity. Because of this student, I now know that teaching is the career for me, and that the best way to revolutionize the world of education is within. I hope to do N justice by carrying these lessons forward into my future classrooms and showing every student that I care for them as individuals, regardless of their volume level.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Breakthrough Collaborative gave me one of the best summers of my life. As a teaching fellow, I spent my summer teaching science to a deserving group of seventh graders. I could tell that my students improved not only academically, but also in terms of personal development. It was so rewarding to see them develop the confidence and leadership abilities they will need to succeed in high school and beyond. Breakthrough creates a positive, collaborative learning environment that all schools should seek to emulate.

Emma A.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a teaching fellow at Breakthrough Greater Boston this past summer and was blown away by the organization! I have worked at a few non-profits with kids, and Breakthrough has given me the best training and classroom experience I have ever received. The leadership was incredible and always set an example of kindness and excellence, which trickled down to the teaching fellows and students. With everyone putting forth their best in a welcoming space, the students were able to learn so much and feel truly accepted.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Had an amazing experience over the summer as a teaching fellow! I grew as a person and knew for sure that I wanted to be a teacher in the future

Darrica M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Working with Breakthrough was absolutely life-changing! Being able to impact so many lives and have fun was very fulfilling. Breakthrough has given me so much and given so much to all the scholars, nationwide. I had the opportunity to instruct 6th grade English this past summer and I had an absolute blast! The scholars were great, my coworkers were wonderful and my supervisors were incredible! Summer 2019 is a summer I’ll never forget!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Breakthrough provided me with an unforgettable experience. I was able to teach chemistry to rising eighth grade students in the San Jose district. I went in thinking that the impact I have on them as a teacher will be tremendous and nothing could compare to it. Little did I know that the impact they would have on me would be much more. This nonprofit connects future teachers and students early on with a wholesome experience.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I taught 7th Grade Writing at Breakthrough New Orleans and it was a truly life-changing experience for me. I had the opportunity to build relationships with so many incredible people (students and teachers alike), and appreciate both the rewards and challenges of teaching. However, the most important benefit of Breakthrough is not to its teachers, but rather the students we served every day. I look back at my summer as a Breakthrough teacher knowing we made differences in the lives of many amazing children.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I taught 7th-grade math at Breakthrough Miami and it was a life-changing summer. Breakthrough does amazing work. Breakthrough serves kids that, through no fault of their own, are not being adequately served by their schools. It provides them with the support they need to excel. It also provides future educators, like me, with the opportunity to develop as educators while using our unique position as college students to connect with students. Breakthrough is doing invaluable work.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Teaching with Breakthrough Miami this summer was a profoundly transformative experience for me. I am so thankful to have spent eight weeks learning and growing in an environment that pushed me out of my comfort zone, surrounded by a community of other hardworking and dedicated individuals, of all backgrounds and interests, but brought together by our shared commitment to and passion for equal access to educational opportunities. I want for everyone my age, regardless of whether or not they plan to pursue a career in the field of education, to have the opportunity to experience the joys and challenges of teaching and mentoring middle schoolers--students who are in a critical stage of development that many of us often try to forget we ever went through.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a teaching fellow at Breakthrough Collaborative at the Cincinnati site this past year, I can say first-hand that this program exceeded my expectations in every sense. I had the opportunity to work as a full-time history and German teacher to seventh graders and the knowledge it gave me is unparalleled to any other opportunity I've had. As a future educator this program gave me a true glimpse into the planning and carrying-out of classroom teaching. Beyond the sheer experience, the relationships I built were incredible. From the dean team, to my fellow teachers, to the students and their families, Breakthrough is truly a family.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I taught 9th grade literature this past summer at Breakthrough Boston. It was the happiest summer of my life, and also the most tiring. The happiness came largely from the people I was around: my fellow teachers, the professional staff, and my students. Every individual in each of those groups made me laugh, pushed me, and supported me, and each one of them demonstrated incredible drive. Days at Breakthrough are long, but my time at Breakthrough was too short. Working as part of such an industrious and committed team just felt great. Our commitment was to our students' academic and personal growth, to our own professional and personal growth, and to the pursuit of educational equity and wider social justice. Each of those areas supported all of the others. Every moment at Breakthrough, even difficult or unpredictable situations, was handled with warmth and positivity. I feel proud and lucky to be a part of Breakthrough, but mostly I feel committed to fighting for its goals . This organization mobilizes those inside it--students and teachers--to bring more of their good into the world, in a way that I can only imagine is unparalleled.

Esther Wong

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've had two summers working with Breakthrough Collaborative (New York 2016 and San Francisco 2017) and I am thoroughly convinced that Breakthrough is one of the leading, if not THE leading, undergraduate teaching programs that exist. The program is structured to not only support college students in gaining hands-on, authentic teaching experience, but also to equip amazingly ambitious elementary, middle, and high school students for their upcoming educational endeavors. As teaching fellows we have the opportunity to write lesson plans and execute them each day, just as a full-time teacher would. One of the aspects of Breakthrough that helped me grow the most was its use of instructional coaches. Our coach would observe our classes multiple times a week and meet one-on-one with us to discuss how we could improve in the classroom. Their feedback was very constructive and I could see myself growing incredibly as a teacher through their close work with us. My favorite part about Breakthrough, however, are the students we work with. These bright, young individuals are high-achieving students from underserved backgrounds. Their joy and motivation to learn and the dedication they have to the program is unparalleled to anything I've seen before. They definitely make the whole experience worth the hard work we put into the program. Lastly, we are supported tirelessly by our wonderful administration team and fellow teachers. The admin take special care to hire individuals who are encouraging and enthusiastic about teaching and social change. Working alongside individuals who are passionate about the same issues I am helped further my love for education.

Zeke R.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This past summer, I had the opportunity to join Breakthrough Greater Boston as a Teaching Fellow. Although I had worked with young students before in volunteer organizations, this was my first experience leading my own classroom. It was a very satisfying summer and it showed me two things: 1) I want to be an Educator after I graduate, and 2) I want to empower young students in urban settings. I went into Breakthrough believing that I would set my students on the path to success and “save” them, but I was completely wrong. The students that I connected with were already bright, ambitious, and hard-working; Breakthrough was only a means to give them Opportunity to improve themselves. They taught me so much about what it means to be a leader, and I miss them everyday.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My summer as a teaching fellow has been a rewarding experience. I built bonds within this inclusive and diverse Breakthrough community that I will cherish forever. I helped students grow while growing alongside them. Your time management, communication and leadership skills are enhanced within this program. The skills one acquires are easily transferable to another organization, activity or internship. I will continue advocating for educational equity and I have Breakthrough to be grateful to for giving me the opportunity firsthand to advance this lifelong goal.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I absolutely loved my summer with Breakthrough Central Texas! I spent the summer building life-changing relationships with other teachers, employees of Breakthrough, and students. It was evident that Breakthrough cared for every student that walked through their doors and that they would do everything possible to make their dream of attending college a reality.

Danielle W.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My summer at Breakthrough Cincinnati changed my life. I was a teaching fellow at my site. I met so many wonderful people dedicated to the advancement of our students and staff. I grew both personally and professionally during my time at Breakthrough. Before the summer I was looking forward to gaining professional development, learning how to lesson plan and getting experience teaching. During my time in the program I received everything I was looking for and more. It was a lot of work but it was the most rewarding things I have done yet. The program offered the kids, my coworkers and me an invaluable experience and I'm sure every site in the collaborative offers the same thing.