Educational Institutions

Breakthrough Greater Boston

  • Cambridge, MA
  • www.breakthroughgreaterboston.org

Mission Statement

Breakthrough Greater Boston prepares low-income students for success in college and trains the next generation of urban teachers using its unique Students Teaching Students model.

Main Programs

  1. Middle School Program
  2. High School Program
  3. Teacher Program
Service Areas

Self-reported

Massachusetts

Breakthrough Greater Boston serves highly motivated, high-need youth in the cities of Cambridge and Boston.

ruling year

1997

Principal Officer since 2009

Self-reported

Ms. Elissa Spelman

Keywords

Self-reported

Breakthrough Greater Boston, BTGB, Breakthrough Cambridge, BTC, Summerbridge, urban education, achievement gap, teacher training, breakthrough collaborative,

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Also Known As

Breakthrough Greater Boston

EIN

04-3307783

 Number

8465712896

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

Secondary/High School (B25)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Currently, BTGB serves over 350 low-income middle and high school students in Cambridge and Boston; we will more than double our impact to serve a total of 600 students when our six-year expansion into Boston is complete. Upon completion of our six-year program, each BTGB participant has received 1,200 hours of out of school time academic enrichment and college readiness support consisting of: rigorous coursework in core subject areas; hands-on science workshops; individual subject tutoring; one: one mentoring and coaching; structured group study; and college access sessions. Teacher fellows, the high achieving college and high school students who we recruit to teach our middle school students, receive 360 hours of training and coaching. STUDENT ACCOMPLISHMENT - Over the past six years, 97% of our seniors have matriculated to four-year college. TEACHER ACCOMPLISHMENT - On average, more than 75% of graduating Teaching Fellows continue to pursue careers in the field of urban education. ORGANIZATIONAL AWARDS - The Breakthrough model has been awarded many high honors, including the Drucker Institute Award for Nonprofit Innovation, the Bayer Compendium Best Practice in K-12 STEM Education, Senator Barbara Boxer's Excellence in Education Award, John Hopkins University's Excellence in Summer Learning Award, and Columbia University's Kingenstein Leadership Award. Breakthrough was selected in 2010 by Root Cause as one of Greater Boston's Seven Top College Access and Success Organizations

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Middle School Program

The Middle School Program is a fun, rigorous, year-round academic program with three components: 1) an intensive six-week, full day Summer Program offering core academic classes and a 3:1 student to teacher ratio, 2) a School-Year Program that features weekly after school and tutoring, and 3) a year-round Advocacy Program that includes regular contact with teachers and families, high school options counseling, and more. Breakthrough provides middle school students with approximately 300 hours of academic support each year.

Category

Education, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)

Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- General

Budget

.

Program 2

High School Program

The High School Program helps each student to succeed in college-track classes and gain admittance to a 4-year college through a program with three core elements: 1) Advocacy that provides assistance with course selection and tutor matching, 2) High School Readiness Programming for 9thgraders, 3) Internship placement for 10th-12thgraders, and 4) a College Access Program that supports students completing their college applications. Throughout high school, we provide students with up to 160 hours of academic and college access support each year.

Category

Education, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Budget

.

Program 3

Teacher Program

The Teacher Program trains high-achieving college and high school students to teach. With guidance from professional educators, students shoulder the responsibilities of full-time educators as they implement curricula, plan daily lessons, manage student behavior, and commit their time to helping younger students follow in their footsteps on the road to college. Summer teachers receive 130 plus hours of training.

Category

Employment, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Budget

.

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    At BTGB we believe that a college education offers a critical breakthrough for low-income students we serve and that readiness is the key to succeeding at college. We work with 7th through 12th grade students to ensure that they are academically ready for college and equipped with the skills and habits they need to both access and persist at college. We also engage high achieving college and high school students as teacher fellows to inspire excellence in urban education. Our teacher fellows are bright, energetic, and driven. They come from diverse academic and personal backgrounds, but share a strong commitment to learning the art of teaching, to the Breakthrough mission, and to making a real and lasting impact on their students. We strive to close the achievement gap, which in Boston is markedly high. In 2013, Boston MCAS tests revealed a 29% academic skills gap between African American and Latino students and their Caucasian peers in Math, a 13% gap in English Language Arts, and a 41% gap in Science and Technology/Engineering. Researchers striving to explain unequal academic achievement find that much is attributable to differences in the number of hours young people spend in constructive enrichment activities outside of school. Unfortunately, 60% and 66% of students in Boston, respectively, do not participate in OST or summer learning programs. Through our six years of intensive, tuition-free, out-of-school time programming, Breakthrough changes students' academic trajectories and supports them along the path to four-year college.Breakthrough works to improve educational equity by:Inspiring Excitement for Learning: At Breakthrough, small classes, hands-on learning, and enthusiastic teachers create a culture of active learning. Motivated, diverse middle school students take ownership over their education, gaining the skills and confidence they need to excel in school. Our 95% daily attendance rate is evidence of our students' excitement for learning and dedication to Breakthrough.Creating Paths to College: Breakthrough challenges, prepares and supports diverse, low-income middle school students to succeed in rigorous high school programs and go on to college. In 2013 100% of our seniors have matriculated into four-year college.Promoting Careers in Education: Breakthrough cultivates leadership in talented high school and college students who teach classes and help to run our programs. Through training, support and hands-on experience, Breakthrough teachers are inspired to become the next generation of America's educators. Our 2015 teachers hailed from top schools such as Princeton, Tufts, Smith, Oberlin, Spelman, Georgetown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Stanford, Northwestern, and the University of Virginia.We are committed to replicating our success in Boston through our six-year partnership agreement with TechBoston Academy (TBA) in Dorchester. BTGB's budget is growing at an average rate of 25% a year to support our programmatic growth.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Enter a Breakthrough Greater Boston (""BTGB"") classroom and you will be struck by the vitality of the learning process—it's a place where it's cool to be smart! A positive can-do spirit infuses every interaction, and teachers and students learn and model the reciprocal ethic of care and respect. BTGB creates a community of excellence, collegiality, and hope where the belief is always conveyed that ""you are going to college."" At a study break the students break into a spirit cheer, their smiles wide and their voices loud. ""P-O-W-E-R"" …""We've got the power 'cause we are the Breakthrough crew!"" Once you've got the breakthrough spirit, you never lose it. You carry it back into your regular classroom, into your home to your siblings, and you carry it forward through your education and life. BTGB delivers six years of intensive, tuition-free, out of school time programming that:Offers early intervention: Research suggests that students need to be on track for college - achieving academically, demonstrating good study habits, and developing positive relationships - by 8th grade if they are to be successful in college. BTGB first engages students during middle school - inspiring a love of learning, closing skill gaps, encouraging self-advocacy, and illuminating the path to college.Narrows the achievement gap: BTGB effectively addresses the achievement gap by increasing opportunities for disadvantaged students who need OST program support most.Extends learning time: Upon completion of our six-year program, the average BTGB student dedicates an additional 1200 out-of-school time hours towards their education.Building Foundational Habits for SuccessWe recognize that college readiness is not just about academics. In addition to engaging in rigorous core academic coursework, our students are supported in developing our four habits of mind known as Spirit Checks: Community Membership: Breakthrough students, families, and staff know that each person has a unique background and perspective that helps to define our community. We believe in and respect one another, just as we respect and believe in ourselves. We take ownership of our community by looking for ways to do more than what is asked of us.Effective Communication: Breakthrough students, families, and staff do our best to communicate clearly and respectfully in our work and our social interactions. We listen carefully to each other, choose our words thoughtfully, and speak clearly.Creative Problem Solving: Breakthrough students, families, and staff look at challenges from many angles and seek new ways to solve problems. We consider alternative points of view, because our minds are open to change, and we are interested in hearing others' ideas.Persistence: Breakthrough students, families, and staff stick to a goal until they meet it. We don't give up easily. We never say, "I can't do this," or, "It's too hard." We have confidence in our ability to succeed in the face of short term and long term challenges.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Strong, Sustained Leadership Breakthrough has benefited from a consistent leadership team. Board Officers have all been with the organization for at least 3 years and the Executive Director has been with Breakthrough for 6 years. BTGB's Board convenes quarterly and is legally and fiscally responsible for the organization. The Board consists of 22 members who bring diverse experience to the organization. Executive, Development, Governance, Program and Finance Committees meet regularly. Innovative programming and a leading edge curriculum When their friends are sleeping in or hanging out, Breakthrough 7th graders are bent over their microscopes, carefully examining tissue samples from a biology dissection. In nearby classrooms, 8th grade students are testing water samples, discussing theme, characterization and symbolism, or debating U.S. immigration policy. In 9th grade classrooms, students are exploring Newton's 3 Laws, constructing personal memoirs, or learning algebraic concepts.Firmly rooted in the latest evidence-based pedagogical practices, BTGB's program model delivers 1,200+ out of school time hours, enabling us to offer deep and varied learning experiences, diverse opportunities for skills development, one-on-one mentoring, and pragmatic career exploration.Rich Community CollaborationsBTGB maintains multi-faceted partnerships that include: * Cambridge Public Schools/TechBoston Academy: CPS and TBA provide funding for the BTGB program, as well as in-kind office/program space and technology. Additionally, CPS's Deputy Superintendent and the TBA Co-Headmasters serve on Breakthrough's Board of Directors. * Referral Partners: Strong relationships exist between BTGB and a number of academic and scholarship programs, including Upward Bound, Summer Search, Harvard Crimson Academy, and Posse Boston.* Colleges and Universities partner regularly with BTGB around special programs, teacher development and college access, including Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Lesley, MIT, and Tufts. * Private sector companies such as EY, Google, State Street, Twitter, Microsoft, and Cambridge Trust Company partner with BTGB to provide fiscal support, volunteers, in-kind donations. Engagement with FamiliesBTGB recognizes the primary role that the family plays in a student's success. We employ full-time Directors of Student Services in both Boston and Cambridge who oversee a range of student support services that includes maintaining regular two-way communication with families and the Family Advisory Board. Sound Operating Practices, and Financial CapacityFrom a financial perspective, BTGB has enjoyed a 20-year history of fundraising success and an increasingly diversified funding base, averaging 25% growth over the past two years. Additionally, BTGB maintains a strong financial position, with a reserve savings to cover more than six months of operations.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    BTGB is committed to achieving and strengthening the success of our programs in both Boston and Cambridge. We implement a comprehensive evaluation strategy developed in partnership with Mendelsohn Gittleman & Associates. We track outputs such as: numbers of students served; student hours; attendance in summer, after school, and high school programs; retention; internships of our high school students; teacher fellow numbers and retention; and number of volunteers. We track outcomes such as: Student academic success: We evaluate student success in three primary ways: * Pre and Post Testing: Assessments focused on subject-specific academic skills, providing quantitative data to gauge the success of teaching, learning, and program curricula.* Formative and Summative Assessments: BTGB teachers are trained in the following assessment approaches: * Active Participation: Students are engaged during class every 3-5 minutes in mandatory demonstration of skills, enabling teachers to gauge student skill development.* Final Projects: Each BTGB class culminates in a final project requiring students to demonstrate skills mastered throughout the course. We also gather qualitative data through Student and Family Surveys in which BTGB students and parents respond to questions related, for example, to confidence, motivation, and ability to self-advocate. College access: We track our seniors' college acceptances, financial aid, and persistence. For the past six years, 97% of BTGB program seniors have matriculated to college. Teacher fellows' success and post-college career choices: Our teacher fellows' teaching skills are assessed using the Teacher Excellence Rubric (TER), created by Breakthrough Collaborative, at the beginning and end of the program. At the end of the summer, our teachers also complete a survey on their experience at Breakthrough reflecting on the skills they learned, Breakthrough's influence on their interest in teaching, and their overall satisfaction with the program. We track teachers' post college plans; over 75% choose to continue in the teaching profession.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Since 1992, BTGB has supported the academic success and recruited, trained, and inspired of over 2000 students and Teaching Fellows. We have developed an excellent year-round out of school time academic program. Following the six-week full-day summer session, BTGB students enter high school with excitement for learning and academic skills necessary to succeed in rigorous college-preparatory classes. Nearly 100% of BTGB high school students enter four-year colleges immediately following high school. Over the past six years, 97% of graduating seniors have matriculated at four-year colleges, including Boston University, Clark University, Fairfield University, Harvard, Johnson & Wales University, Purdue, Syracuse, Tufts, UMass - Amherst, Dartmouth, Lowell; Vassar College, and Wheaton College.Teaching at Breakthrough over the summer has been consistently ranked by Princeton Review as one of the Top Ten Internships in the U.S., along with working at the White House and the Supreme Court. Our summer 2015 teacher recruitment was the most competitive to date - over 600 applications were received for 70 teaching positions. Our teachers hailed from top schools such as Princeton, Tufts, Smith, Wheaton, Oberlin, Georgetown, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Stanford. The average teacher GPA was 3.6 and over half of our teachers were of color. On average, more than 75% of graduating teachers have continued to pursue careers in education. BTGB's new Boston site at TechBoston Academy (TBA) launched in June 2013 with an inaugural class of 29 students, 10 teachers, 2 instructional coaches and 2 directors and now serves over 80 students year-round. Activities preceding and enabling the successful launch were site selection and planning, partnership development and community outreach, staffing and organizational infrastructure development, and Board expansion. Work in progressOur Boston expansion will be fully implemented in 2018. The Boston site will continue to grow, recruiting an additional class of rising 7th graders annually, until a full six years of programming are offered - ultimately doubling the number of at-risk students benefiting from our services in Greater Boston.In 2014 we introduced Study Hall Plus, a program which provides 9th and 10th grade students with additional opportunity to engage with their college-going BTGB cohort in supervised study sessions, receive individualized tutoring, and participate in supplemental workshops. We are currently piloting Study Hall Plus with our 9th grade students before rolling out to both 9th and 10th grades. In our 23rd year, BTGB's current challenge is building and sustaining the growth in visibility and funding required to simultaneously support: 1. The Boston expansion which doubles the number of students and teachers served; and 2) Program development for critical initiatives such as Study Hall Plus.
Service Areas

Self-reported

Massachusetts

Breakthrough Greater Boston serves highly motivated, high-need youth in the cities of Cambridge and Boston.

Funding Needs

Breakthrough Greater Boston's top five most pressing needs for 2015 are: 1.) Support BTGB's expansion into Boston which doubles our impact, ultimately preparing 325 additional high need students of color to succeed in college. 2.) Support for Full STEAM Ahead, BTGB's new year-round (summer and after school) comprehensive and challenging Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math program serving nearly 200 high-need 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students in Boston and Cambridge. Full STEAM Ahead delivers a powerful amalgam of program elements: core academic STEM courses in the summer; after school STEAM workshops during the school-year; and STEM career exposure with community partnerships that include Twitter, Google, and MIT. 3.) Support for BTGB's high school programs: Study Hall Plus, which provides Breakthrough high school students with additional opportunity to engage in supervised study sessions, build strong study habits, receive individualized tutoring, and participate in study skills workshops. We are currently piloting Study Hall Plus with our 9th grade students before it will be rolled out fully across high school; and College Access Program, which pairs each student with a volunteer College Access Coach for support as they research schools, write college essays, complete applications and apply for financial aid and scholarships. 4.) Support for Breakthrough Greater Boston's Teacher Program, which trains high-achieving high school and college students to implement curricula, plan daily lessons, and manage student behavior as part of our unique students-teaching-students model. Breakthrough will serve double the number of talented young people interested in careers in education through our expansion to two sites within Greater Boston. 5.) Board Diversification. With our expansion to Boston, we have recruited several Boston-based board members. We hope to continue to diversify our board to reflect both the Cambridge and Boston communities we serve.

Accreditations

Affiliations + Memberships

Affiliate/Chapter of National Organization (i.e. Girl Scouts of the USA, American Red Cross, etc.) - Affiliate/chapter

External Reviews

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The review section is powered by Great Nonprofits

Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

BREAKTHROUGH GREATER BOSTON INC
Fiscal year: Oct 01-Sep 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Breakthrough Greater Boston

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
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Principal Officer

Ms. Elissa Spelman

BIO

Elissa Spelman first joined Breakthrough Greater Boston as a Board Member, working actively on the Strategic Planning and Program Committees. Elissa's previous post was as the first-ever Director of the Wellington Management Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting education programs for low-income youth, including some of the affiliate sites of the Breakthrough Collaborative. Elissa has broad experience in the field of education and has also worked with nonprofits focused on foster care, adoption and domestic violence. Elissa began her career as a third grade teacher at the Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester, MA and has taught in a variety of settings. Elissa received her M.A. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has a bachelor's degree in education from Boston College.

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Mrs. Elizabeth Hodder

Harvard University, Former Head Undergraduate Teacher Program

Term: Jan 2001 - Jan

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization


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BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?


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CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


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BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?