We welcomed 40 middle school students from under-resourced communities to begin a transformative learning experience.
Twenty years later, Breakthrough Central Texas has touched the lives of thousands of students and their families — and hundreds of future educators — through life changing educational experiences.
Because of our students’ hard work and determination and the community’s dedicated support over the last 20 years, Breakthrough has grown from a small program serving just 40 students annually to nearly 3,000 currently enrolled students. Today, nearly 300 students are living their dream as first in their family to earn a college degree.
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In 2000, Jessica Slade, a teacher with a master’s degree in Education Administration from the University of Texas, recognized a need in Central Texas schools. “Austin was becoming a beacon for economic development,” says Slade, “but it was striking to me that students who happened to be from low-income backgrounds were not able to benefit from Austin’s growth because they didn’t have the same educational opportunities as more affluent students. This disparity did not sit right with me. I believe all students should have the opportunity to attend college, especially in an age where it is a mandatory qualifier for most industries.”
So, Jessica decided to make a change. Building on her experience launching a similar program in Fort Worth, Jessica threw herself into creating an Austin-based educational nonprofit that could fuel equitable access to higher education for under-represented students. She met with leaders of other non-profits, Austin ISD, the University of Texas, and community groups to learn about existing services and design a model that addressed the gaps. In 2002, Breakthrough Austin (now Central Texas) was born with Jessica at the helm as founder and executive director.
Over the Years
Expansion into Manor ISD
First College Graduates
In 2012, the first Breakthrough students graduated college.
Expanding into Northeast Austin
Launching UTeach Partnership
Rebranding for Expansion
Expanding to Del Valle
Manor’s First Graduating Class
The Breakthrough Challenge
Launch Policy & Advocacy Practice
Launching our Schoolwide Model in Manor ISD