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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.