Our Program

Photo: Breakthrough Twin Cities

Breakthrough works to narrow the opportunity gap for under-resourced students through our six-year core program model, in which rising seventh, eighth, and ninth grade students from under-resourced communities attend summer programming and continue to receive regular support throughout high school.

To carry out the Breakthrough philosophy of students-teaching-students, teachers-training-teachers, talented college undergraduates serve as teaching fellows who lead instruction for students in our middle school summer program. The Breakthrough teaching residency is a challenging pre-service teacher training program, providing young people who are considering careers in education with more than 75 hours of in-classroom teaching experience each summer. The program also invites and develops undergraduates who are considering careers outside of the classroom. Breakthrough teaching fellows are guided by professional teachers who serve as mentors and instructional coaches.

The Breakthrough Collaborative national office provides program standards and resources including curricula, evaluation tools, and teaching fellow recruitment for our affiliates to carry out the direct services to students. We serve as capacity builders for sites, gather and analyze data and research to inform the work of our affiliates, and foster collaboration between sites to build on best practices and standardize the program.


Photo: Breakthrough Twin Cities

Beginning in middle school, students at our local affiliates are challenged with academically rigorous coursework to expand and enrich their learning. The middle school program entails six-week summers for rising 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. Throughout high school, Breakthrough students receive a variety of supports, including tutoring, mentoring, and workshops to ensure they have the requisite skills to gain admission to a four-year college.

The aim of the Breakthrough Collaborative national office is to support and train affiliate staff so they can ensure that students are prepared for entry into top college preparatory high schools. The majority of our affiliates continue with their student cohorts through high school, providing the academic support and training in the non-cognitive skills they need to succeed. As students continue in our program, our focus shifts to teaching habits and attitudes that are critical for high school and providing support and intervention when challenges arise. Affiliates ensure that the lack of college knowledge is not a barrier to college admission and support students and their families through the process of applying and being accepted to college.

Throughout the Collaborative, 77% of our students go on to a two- or four-year college. They have the tools to understand the financial, academic, and social challenges they may face and have a support system to draw upon when issues arise.

Because the affiliates are independently operated and respond to the unique needs of their own communities, there are some variations in the way each site delivers its programming and number of grades served. As we continue to solidify our six-year program model across the Collaborative, many affiliates are beginning to design structures to continue to support students in their college years.


As a defining strategy in its approach to closing the opportunity gap, Breakthrough Collaborative has pioneered two uniquely collaborative models of instruction: students-teaching-students, and teachers-training-teachers. These models unlock the extraordinary potential for students and teachers, of all ages, to engage each other in learning, teaching, and leading.

As demographically diverse college undergraduates, our teaching fellows are better reflective of our students’ backgrounds than the average teacher population, and they serve as living proof to our students that college is within reach.