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. In 2023-24, we’re serving 232 5 -12th grade students. 86% will be the first in their families to attend a four-year college, while 91% are eligible for free- or reduced-price lunch. We’re also opt-in providing persistence support to another 79 current college students.

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. 

For four years, during the summers prior to 5-8th 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 an hour of homework nightly. They also work on study skills, attend elective classes, participate in special events like College ay and Career Day, and join a supportive community. During their 5-8th grade school years, students attend our after-school program twice weekly, participating in tutoring sessions and enrichment classes. We also assist all students with the middle and high school admissions processes.

During their 9-12th grade years, students attend monthly Saturday workshops on career exploration, DEI, self-care, decision making, and more. In addition, they receive in-depth college admissions support.

In 2018, the first class of students graduated from our new eight-year program, and five more classes have now followed. Thus far, 100% of our graduates are attending college, including 93% at four-year schools.

We train the next generation of educators.

Breakthrough also operates a summer teaching residency for outstanding college students. Teaching Fellows are recruited from colleges and universities nationwide and pass through a rigorous admissions process. Teaching Fellows receive ten days of intensive training in June. Then, during the ensuing six weeks, they teach two sections of an academic course – math, science, literature, or writing. They are observed daily by Instructional Coaches, experienced classroom teachers who provide ongoing feedback on their practice. Teaching Fellows also serve as advisors to a small number of students, plan special events, and participate in ongoing professional development and career exploration activities.

We train our Teaching Fellows to set clear objectives for each lesson, actively engage all students, and build lasting relationships with their students. Our long-term goal is to supply effective teachers for the classrooms of tomorrow, including significant numbers of people of color. 47% of Teaching Fellows who graduated from college in the past decade are now working in the education sector, most as classroom teachers in urban public schools.