Why Breakthrough!

Everything we do at Breakthrough Miami is designed to help our scholars "break through" the social, cultural and economic barriers to high achievement.



Nationwide, only 65% of Black and Hispanic students in low-income communities earn high school diplomas.

Low-income students with above-average test scores have a college graduation rate of just 26%, lower than more affluent students with below-average test scores.

Even those students who are high achievers in elementary school are less likely to maintain that status and twice as likely to drop out or graduate late as their higher income peers.

Middle school – a time of huge change academically, developmentally and socially – is a critical period during which students in low-income environments are either launched on the path to high-school graduation or knocked off-track.

In the past 30 years, as college attendance has grown dramatically across the country, the gap between the share of affluent students graduating with bachelor degrees relative to the share of low-income students has grown by 50%.

And when it comes to aspiration, students from under-resourced communities learn at an early age to match their expectation to what they believe is possible. The University of Michigan found that low-income and minority 7th-graders who received information about financial aid planned to work harder in school than peers who had not received such information.



Breakthrough Miami's 8-year, tuition-free academic enrichment program preaches the gospel of rigor and high expectations to its 1,200 scholars from the time they enter the program in 5th grade until they graduate from high school. Breakthrough Miami's year-round programming gives motivated students from disadvantaged communities the tools – and peer relationships – needed to achieve their most ambitious life goals.

Our "students-teaching-students" model engages outstanding college and high school students as teachers and mentors, helping our scholars enter and thrive in college-prep high school programs and four-year colleges and universities.

The Breakthrough program model is based on research that demonstrates:

  • Increased attendance in out-of-school programs improves student academic achievement and the longer students are involved, the greater their achievements;
  • Students from low socio-economic backgrounds lose an estimated four to five months in reading skills each summer and the loss is cumulative;
  • High-quality summer, after-school and weekend programs help children improve social and physical skills that impact their overall health and well-being, as well as their academics.
  • Cross-age peer mentoring programs provide benefits to both mentors and mentees.

The University of Miami Education Evaluation Team (UMEET) completed an assessment of the Breakthrough Miami program in October 2012. Breakthrough Miami Scholars at all grade levels, UMEET reported, demonstrated continuous academic improvement for the three-year period (2010-12) that was studied.
In 2012-13, Breakthrough Scholars once again demonstrated outstanding achievements, consistently performing at a high level in these research-based markers for future academic success.
Among the highlights:

 • 82% of 8th graders taking Algebra I or Geometry (October 2013) 

• 66% of 10th graders with a GPA of 3.0 or above (June 2013)

 • 71% of 11th graders taking two or more advanced classes (AP, IB, Honors, etc.)

 • 79% of seniors graduated with four or more years of high school math

 • 100% of seniors completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

 • 95% of the Class of 2012 took the SAT/ACT


  • 100% of seniors graduated on time from high school
  • 98% of graduates enrolled in colleges and universities
  • 90% of those enrolling selected four-year institutions, far outpacing the national average for high-performing students from disadvantaged backgrounds

Among the schools Breakthrough Miami graduates are attending:

Duke University, Princeton University, Bentley University, University of Pittsburgh, Middlebury College, Williams College, Coast Guard Academy, University of Richmond, University of Miami, University of Florida, Cooper Union, Hamilton College, Florida Atlantic University, Tuskegee University, Florida International University, New York University.


Breakthrough Miami recruits top college students and high school seniors from Miami and across the country to serve as Teaching Fellows in our intensive 8-week summer internship that has been recognized by The Princeton Review as a Top 10 service learning opportunity.

Fellows, who represent highly diverse communities and come from a broad range of majors and interests, undergo rigorous training and supervision by credentialed professional educators.

Many reflect on their experience at Breakthrough as "life-changing," and nationally, nearly 75% of college graduates who have been Teaching Fellows enter the education field. Breakthrough Teaching Fellows are up to five times more likely to be accepted by the nation's most rigorous teaching academies, including Teach For America, Boston Teacher Residency and Uncommon Schools.



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