This summer, Breakthrough students reunited in person, engaging in hands-on learning in and out of the classroom. We were thrilled to welcome back students, teaching fellows, and instructional coaches to our signature Summer Academy at sites across Austin, offering new curriculum and exciting field trips.. High school students attended leadership institutes, explored college and career options, and prepared for the college admissions process alongside their Breakthrough peers and advisors.
See below for highlights from the Breakthrough summer.
MIDDLE SCHOOL SUMMER ACADEMY
Our five-week Summer Academy helped students rebound from the pandemic, recover lost learning time, and reconnect to the Breakthrough community. More than 400 middle school students took part, learning from passionate college-aged AmeriCorps summer teaching fellows.
Our small class sizes, student-centered curriculum, and passionate teaching fellows encouraged learning discoveries in the classroom. Students engaged in science projects exploring the health of people and the planet. They conducted waste-audits, studied worm composting through building “worm motels,” experimented with different heat and light sources to create their own solar ovens, and built a living wall with air-purifying plants and upcycled materials. They nurtured their inner creative writer through a language arts curriculum centered around the Writer’s Workshop and self-directed writing projects. In social studies, using primary sources, students studied gentrification, migration of peoples in the US, and Native American and indigenous conceptions of land. And they practiced math concepts using real-life examples and a discussion-based format, using math to view the world. All students joined in reading the student-selected novel, Pet, as part of our community-wide book club. In total, students experienced more than 70 hours of academic instruction. Students also engaged in enriching field trips: They conducted robotics workshops with employees at NI, toured area colleges, visited museums, and went swimming.
“I really value this Summer because I got to meet new people and make new friends. I value the teachers because they care about me. They call me and check on me.
I have many goals for my future and Breakthrough is going to help me achieve [them]. One of my goals is to graduate from high school and get into college. I have seen Breakthrough help my sister, Sheyla, go through the steps to apply for college. I really hope I can achieve my goals with the help of my family, friends, and of course Breakthrough.”
– Alexis, AISD 8th Grader
HEAR FROM OUR STUDENTS & TEACHING FELLOWS
HIGH SCHOOL INSTITUTES
Through our Summer Spectacular Program, Breakthrough offered multiple in-person workshops for 10th and 11th graders to connect with peers, learn and build leadership skills, explore career and postsecondary pathways, and become exposed to a variety of professionals to become more aware of future career options.
In this year’s Presentation of Learning (POL), students took on the role of college recruiters and gave their best pitch to persuade prospective students (volunteers) to attend their campus. Students demonstrated their college knowledge, leadership, and communication skills covered over our two-week program in a concise, refined presentation to adult volunteers and partners. Volunteers had the opportunity to share meaningful feedback and vote for their top pitches.
Rising seniors worked closely with advisors to review and familiarize themselves with the college application process, be introduced to postsecondary research tools like Breakthrough’s College Fit Guide, begin the brainstorming and drafting process for college applications and be introduced to the financial aid process.
COLLEGE & CAREER SUCCESS
Our College and Career Success team helped our largest-ever graduating class transition to their first semester of college. A key focus was combatting enrollment melt, a phenomenon where students accepted to college do not attend in the fall. Advisors coordinated enrollment steps and provided the encouragement to help students maintain their identity as college goers despite the uncertainty of the moment. In early July, Breakthrough hosted “Thrive Summit,” a week-long virtual retreat where students heard from other Breakthrough college students about their first year in college, connected with representatives from universities around Texas, and engaged in workshops around financial literacy, healthy choices, and what it means to be a first-generation college student.
Breakthrough college freshmen at Zip Lost Pines on their final day of the Thrive Summit
The College and Career Success Program made concerted advising efforts to encourage student retention and persistence, and, ultimately, prevent the sophomore slump. The goals this summer were to support students in major and school changes, hold individual sessions to isolate future needs, and assist students in finding additional avenues of student engagement at their university.
Juniors and Seniors
This summer, the College and Career Success team ensured junior and seniors in college were supported as they transitioned back-to-school in this uncertain climate.
This summer, 83 college students interned at companies around Central Texas as part of our Breakthrough Internship Network (BIN). BIN connects a diverse pipeline of well-trained and highly motivated college students to hiring managers and organizations offering full-time, paid professional internships. Interns spent their summer exploring careers, attending professional development workshops and honing in on presentation and communication skills.
2022 SUMMER PROGRAM SUPPORTERS
Harman-Mayes-Sooch Family Fund
Norbert H. Hardner Foundation
Michael and Alice Kuhn Foundation
Topfer Family Foundation