Racial Justice & Equity


May 2021 — In a week that marks the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd in an encounter with a law enforcement officer in Minneapolis, we stand in solidarity with all those mobilized by his death to more deeply consider the causes and impact of systemic inequities on the lives our citizens and the health of our nation.  Across the past year, we have deepened our commitment to social justice and racial equality, embarking on an intentional examination of the policies and practices that govern interactions across the Breakthrough community.  Recognizing that no current action can bring back lives lost or reverse injuries of the past, we have taken steps toward a better future and our stated goal of becoming an anti-racist organization.

Here’s some of the work underway:

  • We diversified the membership of our Board of Trustees and established a Race & Equity Advisory Committee to lead this work.
  • Leaders across the Breakthrough community provided input into the board’s resolution on Race & Equity (text below).
  • Breakthrough joined a cohort of our peers in the Promise54 DEI Accelerator to develop a data-driven approach to our work on race & equity.
  • A Race, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (REDI) Workgroup developed and provided training on a comprehensive set of inclusive resources for the teaching fellows who deliver student programming.
  • We led a National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) Webinar to share a cohesive approach for creating and delivering culturally relevant learning experiences.
  • We revised our recruitment and hiring practices to create a more inclusive, transparent and data driven process designed to diversify Breakthrough’s national leadership team. 

We are committed to advance this work inclusively and to holding ourselves accountable to the entire Breakthrough community of students and families, teachers, staff and supporters.

Adopted March 2021

As a Board of Trustees, we:

  • Believe that bringing diverse individuals together inclusively allows us to effectively achieve our
    mission and live out our values.
  • Acknowledge the historical harm that the U.S. educational system has caused by upholding an
    exclusionary culture that has led to inequitable access for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color
  • Acknowledge that, in its 42 years of expanding educational access, the
    Breakthrough Collaborative has operated within that system, maintaining the status quo; we therefore
    commit to addressing any resulting inequities to BIPOC students, their families, staff, and teaching
    fellows through continued growth of our organization.
  • Believe that Black lives matter and should be treated as such in how we address any inequities in
    Breakthrough’s system and the larger education system.
  • Are committed to upholding the values of collaboration, community, equity, respect, and
    opportunity for all.
  • Believe that racial inequities at all levels should be addressed in order to realize our commitment to
    becoming an anti-racist organization (specifically, one that opposes racism and promotes racial equity).

Therefore, Breakthrough Collaborative shall:

  • Denounce racism and commit to becoming an anti-racist organization that dismantles inequitable
    systems and practices that lead to negative experiences or marginalization for BIPOC staff, teaching
    fellows, students, and families.
  • Design a three-year, organization-wide, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) vision and strategic plan
    that will amplify the voices of BIPOC staff, teaching fellows, students, and families across
    Breakthrough in the design of policy, system, and curriculum choices.
  • Review operational procedures, structures, and organizational culture to address any inequities that
    disproportionately impact BIPOC staff, teaching fellows, students, and families.
  • Require annual monitoring of DEI initiatives and progress towards goals.
  • Support building an organizational culture in which all staff, teaching fellows, and students are able
    to learn, grow, and thrive equitably.
  • Commit its Board of Trustees to proactively work to support the evolution of the Collaborative in becoming an anti-racist organization.

*We hereinafter use the acronym BIPOC, currently in wide use and broadly understood, as an adjective to designate the diverse set of Breakthrough stakeholders whose historical experience is described in this resolution.

View PDF of Board Resolution here.



May 2021 — This is an extraordinarily painful moment for our country, for our communities and for Breakthrough, a moment that compels us to underscore the bedrock values we embrace every day:

The Breakthrough Collaborative stands with our entire community in opposition to all forms of injustice and racism.

The prompt for this message, of course, is the series of horrific events –  set in motion by the homicide deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many others – that testify to this nation’s persistent racism and embedded systemic inequities that disproportionately affect Black men, women and children.

These are Our Students, Our Teachers, Our Staff and Our Families. This trauma, despair and anger is a story that hits home and one we must address directly.

For more than 40 years, we have been a safe haven for under-resourced and minority youth who too often lack access to the supportive and secure communities, the role models, and the practical tools for accessing educational opportunities and achieving their goals.  Without it, there can be no optimism for a better future.

Receiving this support must be the unequivocal right of every single child in the United States. We know you are with us in doing everything possible to make that happen.

These tragic events are occurring amid another significant disruption in our students’ lives, as the COVID-19 pandemic and national health, economic and educational upheavals are still very much with us. There is no question that the combination of these issues will create learning gaps for all students, and that students like ours are most at risk.

Our commitment is to continue speaking out against racism and uniting for change as we ensure the pathways for a new generation of leaders, and, through them, a society with justice, equity and opportunity for all.

Racial Equity & Justice: Breakthrough's Commitment and Next Steps

Here are some of the things that are in progress as we honor Breakthrough’s commitment to our stated values - including diversity, equity and continuous learning - day in and day out.

1. Establishing a Collaborative Race & Equity Advisory Group: We are assembling a diverse panel of leaders - including Trustees and directors from both affiliates and the National Office. The goal is to ensure an anti-racist and equity agenda becomes a key priority for the organization at all levels.

2. Committing to bringing more leaders of color into the Collaborative: We are focused on growing, hiring, and retaining leaders of color across the Collaborative and National Office, as well as increasing representation on our National board.

3. Contracting for expertise: We are engaging with outside counsel to assist us in this work, which will include an audit of National policies and procedures and will prioritize such activities board recruitment and staff development.

4. Providing Shared Resources: We developed a Collaborative-wide Resource Guide for affiliates, inclusive of existing and new curriculum support, articles, videos, podcasts, and other tools to help navigate these complex issues.

5. Engaging Together in Continuous Learning: We will use the aforementioned resources more broadly as part of a renewed focus on learning together. As a start, we have shared a Breakthrough Summer Book List highlighting Black authors and relevant reading on social justice and anti-racism.

6. Partnering for Impact: We are developing partnerships with like-minded organizations that represent Breakthrough's perspective in this space.

In closing, you have this pledge from all of us at Breakthrough Collaborative: We will do the work. We will be vigilant and challenge ourselves, individually and collectively, to do better. We will engage our community in a dialogue that prioritizes the safety, security, and futures of our students and teachers, and commit to continuously fight against institutionalized inequities, racism and injustice on all fronts.