Breakthrough students all aspire to go to college and are willing to push themselves to excel academically.

Do you love to learn?

Are you planning to go to college?

Do you want to meet other hardworking students?

Are you a fourth grader?

If so, Breakthrough San Francisco may be for you!

Please read on to learn more.

What is Breakthrough San Francisco?

Breakthrough San Francisco at SF Day School is a tuition-free, year-round academic enrichment program for high-potential, underserved students in San Francisco.

We offer an exciting curriculum and small classes taught by trained college students. Students apply during the winter of their fourth grade year.

Accepted students make an eight-year commitment with the goal of attending and succeeding at a college-preparatory middle school, high school, and competitive four-year college.

All programming is tuition-free for Breakthrough families, and takes place at San Francisco Day School (350 Masonic Ave, San Francisco, CA, 94118).

Application and Timeline

The application process for 2020-21 is now closed. We will reopen the application process in November 2021 for students interested in starting at Breakthrough in summer 2022. To be notified when the application becomes available, please complete this brief form

*Note: Please keep in mind that we rarely have spots available beyond our traditional point of entry in the 4th grade. 5th graders are welcome to apply by our February deadline each year; we will let you know by early May if we have spaces available due to attrition. We do not consider applicants who are in the 6th grade or older.



Breakthrough students have a demonstrated need for this tuition-free program.  Students selected for Breakthrough meet at least three out of the five criteria:

  1. Qualify for free or reduced lunch at school.
  2. Will be the first in their family to attend a four-year college.
  3. Speak a language other than English at home.
  4. Live in a single-parent household.
  5. Attend an under-resourced school in San Francisco.


Accepted students make an eight-year commitment. Students are required to attend our summer program, school year program, and high school program (see below).

Summer Commitment

(through end of middle school)

  • Students are required to attend for six weeks during the summers before 5th – 8th grades.

  • We expect students to come to Breakthrough every day excited to learn, question, debate, write, experiment, and challenge themselves.
  • Daily attendance from Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 3:30 pm, is mandatory.
  • Optional after-school program from Monday-Friday, 3:30 – 5:30 pm.
  • Each night, students will have approximately one hour of homework, preparing them for college-preparatory classes in middle and high school.

School Year Commitment

(through end of middle school)

  • Students are required to attend Breakthrough’s after-school program twice per week.
  • Students receive personalized tutoring and attend engaging enrichment classes.
  • 5th and 6th graders attend on Mondays and Wednesdays (3:30 – 5:30 pm).
  • 7th and 8th graders attend on Tuesdays and Thursdays (4 – 6 pm).

High School Commitment:

  • Students are required to attend Breakthrough throughout their 9 – 12th grade years.
  • Students attend monthly Saturday workshops and take part in ACT prep, college campus visits, and personalized admissions counseling.
  • Students have summers available to pursue other opportunities. Or, they can volunteer in our summer program!

2021 Mandatory Program Dates (for students who are accepted):

  • Pre-Summer Orientation: Wed, June 2, 2021, from 5:30 – 7 pm over Zoom. All accepted students must attend along with a parent, guardian, or older family member.
  • 2021 Summer Program: Wed, June 23, 2021 – Fri, July 23, 2021, from 9 am – 3 pm. Daily attendance is required. Most programming will take place over Zoom. However, we hope to offer some in-person elective classes from 4 – 5 pm, as well as in-person grade-level activities during the day on Fridays. All in-person programming will be optional.
  • 2021 End of Summer Celebration: Thu, July 22 from 6 – 7 pm over Zoom. Attendance is required for all students and families.
  • 2021-22 School Year Program: All students are expected to attend two days a week throughout the school year. 5th and 6th graders attend Mondays and Wednesdays (3:30 – 5:30 pm). 7th and 8th graders attend Tuesdays and Thursdays (4 – 6 pm). This commitment may change due to COVID.
  • Future Summer and School Year Programs: Dates are TBD, but attendance is mandatory at both the summer and after-school program until graduation from middle school.