What We Do

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What We Do

We support San Francisco students on the path to college.

Breakthrough provides intensive academic enrichment and support to motivated San Francisco students with limited educational opportunities. Students apply to Breakthrough as fourth graders at public elementary schools in San Francisco. Our selection criteria are motivation and need: we seek students who want to attend college but are historically underrepresented there. We admit roughly 36 fourth graders annually, of whom over 90% are students of color and qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch. During the 2016-17school year, we're serving a total of 219 students in grades 5 - 11.

For four years, during the summers prior to fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade, students attend our intensive six-week summer program. Each day, they take four hours of challenging classes in math, science, literature, and writing, and complete two hours of homework nightly. They also work on study skills, attend elective classes, participate in engaging leadership development opportunities like outdoor education and Career Day, and join a supportive community of learners. During their fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade school years, students attend our after-school program twice weekly, receiving individualized tutoring and taking enrichment courses in academics and the arts, and join us for monthly Saturday excursions. We also assist all students with the middle and high school admissions processes.

Our high school support program launched fall 2014. During students’ time in high school, Breakthrough monitors their academic performance and connects them with resources such as tutoring, SAT prep, and college admissions counseling. We’ll also assist students in finding meaningful out-of-school time opportunities that will broaden their horizons and keep them on track to attend college. Our goal is to send all our current ninth graders to college, with at least 90% attending four-year schools, in fall 2018. Learn more about our expansion plan

We train outstanding college students for education careers.

Breakthrough also operates a highly selective summer teaching residency for outstanding college students. Teaching Fellows are recruited from colleges and universities nationwide and pass through a rigorous admissions process – for summer 2016, we chose 32 of 440 applicants. Fellows receive ten days of intensive training in June and, during the ensuing six weeks, teach two sections of a particular academic course – math, science, literature, or writing – using professionally designed curricula. They are observed daily by experienced classroom teachers who provide constant feedback on their instructional strategies and classroom management techniques. Teaching Fellows also co-teach an elective class, serve as advisors to a small number of students, plan special events for the entire student body, and participate in ongoing professional development and career exploration activities.

We train our Fellows to set clear objectives for each lesson; actively engage all students; hold them to the highest possible expectations; and teach with a sense of urgency. Our long-term goal is to supply highly effective teachers for the classrooms of tomorrow, including significant numbers of people of color, men, and math and science majors. A recent analysis of our Teaching Fellows who graduated from college in the last six years -- from 2011 - 2016 - found that 66% are currently employed in the education sector, most as classroom teachers in urban public schools.