Become a Student
Achieve Your Dreams.
Is College in Your Future?
If you are willing to work hard now to prepare for your future, then Breakthrough is the right program for you! We will provide you with challenging courses, small class sizes, college preparatory activities, and an amazing learning community. Classrooms led by near-peer college-age Teaching Fellows—college students recruited through a competitive nationwide search. Our Teaching Fellows are supervised by master teachers—our Instructional Coaches—drawn from area schools. Interested students and families apply during the sixth-grade year for entrance in the summer before seventh grade.
Life as a Student
Breakthrough students commit to ten years of academic enrichment and college and career success programming.
Once selected, students participate in six-week intensive summer programs before 7th, 8th, and 9th grade which include academic classes such as math, science, writing, and literature. Students can expect to complete two hours of homework per night each night of summer program. Additionally, students participate in elective classes designed by our Teaching Fellows that appeal to other areas of interest or study such as dance, foreign language, inventions, photography, debate, and many more. During the school year, all students participate in Saturday classes twice per month with a focus on academic enrichment. School Year Saturday classes for 7th and 8th graders include Financial Awareness, Social Justice, Writing and Public Speaking, and STEM Enrichment.
In 2020, Breakthrough’s expanded partnership with Germantown Friends School means that Breakthrough can support students seeking enrichment or aspiring for college – virtually! Now in the organization’s 26th year, the Summer Enrichment Program offers rising 7th, 8th and 9th grade students a summer of challenging courses, creative activities, and college preparation. Even through remote learning, the summer program is designed to support this critical time for students academically, socially, and emotionally, and will continue to offer small class sizes and mentorship online to guide each student along their unique journey. The program runs from June 29 – August 7.
Also new in 2020, in spring of 8th grade, Breakthrough students may apply to transition to best in class high school support and college readiness programs in fall of 9th grade. For fall 2020, we have arranged for program graduates entering 9th and 10th grade to apply to join the fall terms at Philadelphia Futures and Temple University’s Upward Bound (UB) and Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) programs. Philadelphia Futures offers The Sponsor-A-Scholar program for low-income, first-generation-to-college students. Rising 9th grade students would be eligible to apply if they will be enrolling in a traditional Philadelphia public high school (non-charter) in the fall (philadelphiafutures.org/sponsor-a-scholar-program). Temple ‘s UB and UBMS serve North Philadelphia high school students from low-income families and/or from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree (education.temple.edu/upwardbound).
Additionally, Breakthrough provides education and case management service to support students and families at critical junctures on the path to college success. We work with middle school families in applying to high schools, including Public, Charter and Parochial Schools in City of Philadelphia, as well as Independent Schools in the Greater Philadelphia area so that students have the opportunity to attend the best fit high school that will set them on your path to college.
Students also participate in:
- Challenging Courses, Creative Activities, and College Preparation
- Near-peer mentorship by college student Teaching Fellows
- Special Events and Activities
- Arts and Culture Opportunities
- Social and Networking Activities
Families stay engaged through:
- Family Association
- Learning Workshops
- Case Management
- Parent/Teaching Fellow Meetings
- Summer Open Houses
- Progress reports
Words from our Featured Student, Ziana
It’s crazy to believe I’ve been in Breakthrough since the sixth grade. I started when I was twelve and am now seventeen in the eleventh grade. To think about my journey from when I joined Breakthrough up until now is insane. I have learned so much during my time here, but one of the most valuable lessons I have learned is the importance of leadership. The talent of leadership carries a lot of responsibility, and can set a difference between you and someone else on the other side of the room.
Since joining Breakthrough, I have learned that being a leader comes with individuality–being your own individual and being comfortable with the person you are. The skill of having your own confidence, however, takes time. I can personally attest to this because I wasn’t completely confident in myself around thirteen. Yet, being around the teaching fellows and other staff members who consistently believe in me and support me is a huge confidence boost. With Breakthrough, you have people pushing you outside your comfort zone, but if you do fail they are right there to help you reevaluate on how to get it right the next time. You have people support you in whatever your aspirations are, who can lead you down the right path. You also have other students just like you who are coming in to learn right beside you, helping you feel comfortable. Over time you start to realize “Wow, I really can do anything I set my mind to.”
Another way Breakthrough helps you build leadership is by hosting a career day where students get the chance to network with members from different companies and organizations. At one career day, seventh and eighth graders were able to network with employees from the company, SAP–a technology company that works with some of the most famous companies you can think of. With an experience like this, students were able to ask whatever questions they had and talk to members of a company one-on-one. This can reaffirm a student’s confidence and show leadership to other students in an environment where we encourage one another to challenge ourselves.
Over the years, Breakthrough has taught me the importance of embracing who you are and what makes you different. From teachers being energetic throughout program (especially those summer mornings), as well as dressing in quirky outfits on ‘Wacky Wednesday’ or ‘Pajama Day.’ I remember one time at our summer celebration when the teachers really embarrassed themselves by rapping or dancing to a song. The teachers put themselves out there to show you you can be different and wear crazy clothes or act wacky and get work done just like everyone else. They showed us that being different isn’t an obstacle, but rather a medallion that can represent who you are and your ability to achieve success.
In Breakthrough you really feel like you’re a part of a close-knit family, and I will always cherish my time here.