Each year, Breakthrough Collaborative inspires and empowers students to embrace learning and take risks inside and outside the classroom. For Teaching Fellows (TFs), Breakthrough provides hands-on, real-world training that introduces them to the rigors and rewards of being an educator. Both students and TFs describe this summer experience as a whirlwind of learning that lasts a lifetime. For Tristan Tomlin, Breakthrough student and TF alumnus, it has been just that. 

Tristan was introduced to Breakthrough as a middle schooler, a place where he would grow academically and personally, build connections, and develop a love for Breakthrough. In fact, he ended up returning to Breakthrough  (as many alumni often do) in different capacities, including a Teaching Fellow and recent Breakthrough New York summer staff member. 

When asked why Breakthrough was so impactful, Tristan claimed simply, “The students. It’s all about the students.”

Tristan talks about the reality that race and income too often predict a student’s pathway to college and economic mobility, which should be determined by their potential, not economic access or privilege. “Breakthrough levels the playing field by making sure students get the resources they need to succeed,” he says. 

Breakthrough Collaborative invests in students beginning in middle school and provides six years of academic and social-emotional learning with educational experiences beyond the traditional school day and school year. For more than 10,000 students each year, this support is both far-reaching and long-lasting.

Now a college student at Purchase College, Tristan understands how critical Breakthrough has been to his development. “At its core, Breakthrough is about relationships,” Tristan says.  “These students start the program in middle school and begin cultivating relationships within the community, so by the time they’ve completed their academic journey through college, they have this supportive network that they can lean on as they transition into their careers.”  

For thousands of students and Teaching Fellows like Tristan, Breakthrough has been a key resource and determinant on their path to success.

Learn more about alumni like Tristan here.