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Read about Breakthrough Scholars, Teaching Fellows, supporters, operations and more in this year’s Impact Report.


As we commence the ‘23/24 School Year Program, I am humbled by Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia’s growing impact and community of supporters. I am also excited about our future and overjoyed by the continued successes of Breakthrough Scholars and Teaching Fellows.


We recently completed a memorable Summer Program, with over 200 Scholars and Teaching Fellows on the campus of Germantown Friends School for a fun session of teaching and learning. Breakthrough’s enrollment has increased +95% since I assumed leadership three years ago (back in 2020, 110 Scholars and Teaching Fellows were enrolled). We continue to provide our Scholars with rigorous academic and co-curricular enrichment to help reach their educational and career aspirations. And, we remain steadfast in our commitment to bolster a diverse, talented teacher workforce. I am grateful to say that we are realizing this mission at the highest levels since before the pandemic.


Our students have thoroughly enjoyed Breakthrough’s program, which has flourished over the past year. We recently implemented a new initiative to better prepare Scholars for high school applications (especially in light of the SDP’s evolving admissions process) and help parents understand the full range of high school options. Staff members Sue Chen and Sakina Parks organized a high school fair for parents and Scholars, as well as a series of summer presentations delivered by various admissions officers. Many students commented about the positive energy, ongoing mentorship and supportive, collaborative culture that permeated the program this summer, which I believe is distinctive to Breakthrough and our students-teaching-students model.


Field trips have resumed in earnest – Scholars visited the University of Pennsylvania twice this summer to learn about life in college, careers in education and the admissions process. Scholars took field trips to the Penn Museum, Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) Philadelphia Office (where they worked on a consulting case) and to the Curtis Center for Biotechnology Day (where they learned about innovative cancer treatments, lab funding and construction). Scholars were exposed to careers in zoology on a trip to the Philadelphia Zoo and ran STEM experiments with engineers from the Naval Surface Warfare Center. A few Scholars applied to Seeds of Change’s Costa Rica research program spent a week working with scientists at sea turtle hatcheries and butterfly research labs, in addition to learning about local culture and traditions. It’s an exciting time for Breakthrough students and I encourage you to keep abreast of program happenings through our social media channels — Instagram | Facebook | Twitter/X | TikTok | LinkedIn.

With Breakthrough’s program, metrics, operations and team on track, my focus turns to reaching three goals over the next five years:

• Reach more students by thoughtfully and responsibly establishing a sustainable second program site in addition to the Germantown Friends School location

• Improve outcomes for Scholars and ensure Teaching Fellows are better prepared to enter the profession and consider teaching jobs in Philadelphia. We know that 91% of our most recent 8th graders surveyed attend top choice/competitive high schools. I would like to expand our impact to provide Breakthrough Alumni with high school success and postsecondary inspiration, where they can return to Breakthrough every quarter from 9-12th grades. Here, they will experience a unique curriculum designed to acclimatize to the demands and rigor of high school, develop 21st century tech/digital skills, explore career interests and receive guidance to prepare for postsecondary education

• Find more sustainable and diversified funding sources to support both the base program at GFS, as well as the two new aforementioned initiatives. We are grateful for the countless individuals, foundations, public funders, and corporations who have supported Breakthrough as we regained our financial footing over the past two years.

Once again, we ended the fiscal year in a solid financial position, with approximately $970,000 in revenue received to cover our expenses totalling the same amount. BCG continues to generously lend their social impact, management and strategy expertise to help shape our strategic plans and roadmap, in which Advisory Board, Committees and Staff have all taken active leadership roles.

Thank you for your continued confidence in our students, and for supporting Breakthrough. As always, we invite you to visit the program, get involved and provide your valuable support and ideas. I look forward to seeing you at the Breakfast of Champions on October 26th at 8:15am. Until then, enjoy reading this year’s Impact Report and please join me in launching Breakthrough into a successful future.

With deep gratitude,


Michelle Palmer

Executive Director, Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia

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