With the goal of realizing educational equity and diversity, we maximize our impact through a unique two-pronged strategy: Closing opportunity gaps for under-resourced middle school students and building a diverse and talented educator workforce.


Impact on Students

Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia helps launch highly-motivated, under-resourced middle school students on a path to competitive high schools, setting a critical foundation for college and career success. In its 26-year history, the program has supported the aspirations of more than 1,500 students, 80% of whom were the first in their family to attend college.

Breakthrough’s program is designed to provide crucial and consistent support to middle school students, a period on the education journey when many students grow disillusioned with school. Research conducted in Philadelphia showed that students begin to disengage at the start of the middle school years and that disengagement reduces their likelihood of high school graduation (Balfanz et al 2007).

Breakthrough’s track record reflects the pivotal work of the program in plugging a gap in Philadelphia, a city where 23.3% of the population live in poverty and only two-thirds of Philadelphia School District students graduate high school. All of the students who attended Breakthrough programs in 2018 and 2019 entered college-prep high schools, and 100% of alumni graduated high school in four years between 2016 and 2019. There was also a demonstrable growth in students’ math and literacy skills.

Breakthrough is aware of the many challenges under-resourced students face to pursue meaningful educational opportunities, and these can only be overcome with the commitment of families as well as the students. To this end, Breakthrough partners with families to help them identify high schools that will best support the students’ goals and prepare them for future academic and career achievements.

Impact on Teaching Fellows

Thanks to its unique model, Breakthrough also develops future educators by hiring outstanding college students pursuing careers in education to teach during the six-week summer program. We endeavor to recruit fellows that reflect the demographics of our students, in particular African-American men.

In the long run, the recruitment of underrepresented fellows and the development of college students’ professional skills helps to ensure that our schools have professional, dedicated educators that reflect the diversity of the students. The Teaching Fellows also make an invaluable contribution to the program as role models, showing students that hard work, dedication and focused planning can lead them to success.

Nearly 500 college students have participated in the program as Teaching Fellows since 1995, 75% of whom have become educators. As Fellows, they work under the guidance and supervision of education professionals and acquire first-hand teaching experience as lead instructors in a classroom of 10-15 students. This experience has a marked positive impact on the Fellows, often inspiring them to make a deeper commitment to the field of education.

Teaching Fellows continue on to participate in many nationally recognized teacher training programs, including:

  • University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
  • Teach For America
  • Relay Graduate School of Education
  • Boston Teacher Residency
  • Uncommon Schools
  • and more


Breakthrough Collaborative

180 Grand Ave #1225, Oakland, CA 94612, USA