Policy & Advocacy
Breakthrough’s mission is to support first-generation college aspirants to achieve postsecondary success. We fundamentally understand that, no matter how much determination our students display and how much support they receive from their families, schools, and Breakthrough, the educational system can present barriers and challenges that get in the way. Our mission is rooted in commitments to educational equity and in the intertwined issues of health, economic, immigration, and racial justice, as the ability to go to school and realize one’s educational dreams is connected to many other factors in our society.
We are committed to supporting policies and institutional practices that positively impact college access and success directly, and also to addressing policies and other root causes outside the educational sector that impact the quality of life of students and their families, so they can be housed, healthy, and holistically supported to realize their goals.
Meet Our Advocacy Fellows
Five Breakthrough college students now make up the pilot cohort of Breakthrough’s Advocacy Fellows. Breakthrough’s policy and advocacy practice is driven by a core belief: youth and practitioners, the individuals who are navigating and are being personally impacted by inequitable educational policies, should be the leading voices in the construction and reform of those very policies. Advocacy Fellows will learn about state policy related to college access and success, build on and employ strategic communication and advocacy skills, and use their voices to advocate directly to state leaders during the 88th legislative session.
VALUES & APPROACH
Our policy and advocacy practice at Breakthrough is driven by a core belief: youth and practitioners, the individuals who are navigating and are being personally impacted by inequitable educational policies, should be the leading voices in the construction and reform of those very policies. With more than 2,000 Breakthrough students and families, alongside staff, educators, and school partners, we have a grounded understanding of the challenges and
opportunities to improve access and success in postsecondary education and know our students and families are foundational to that effort. Together, we can ensure that the best ideas are heard and valued by institutions of education and government.
Breakthrough engages in policy advocacy at the legislative, institutional, and internal levels. These efforts include influencing federal, state, and local policymaking, supporting institutional change at middle schools, high schools, and colleges and universities in our region, and developing and implementing better practices within Breakthrough’s own direct service model. We go about our advocacy work by:
Sharing Our Experience
We surface the challenges and the knowledge our students, families, advisors, and partner educators experience in our communities and education institutions. We co-create avenues for their experiences and expertise to be directly shared to educational institutions and policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels.
Collaborating with Other Advocates
We work in collaboration with coalitions and networks of educational equity advocates and district, higher education, and community-based partners to remove barriers across domains for Texas’s most marginalized students and families.
Improving Breakthrough’s Practices
We gather information and inspiration from policies that positively impact student success from our partner institutions and partner nonprofit agencies. We also surface ideas and opportunities directly from our students and families on ways our organization can improve its policies and practices to support more students in better ways.
2023 Policy Priorities
Ensure Excellent Educational Opportunities for K-12 Students
- Ensure fair funding for all schools: Determine the current costs of programs and fund them accordingly, Increase the basic allotment in funding formula
- Address the teacher shortage and its unequal impacts on students and school communities
- Promote inclusive school climates and curriculum that value, affirm, and protect the civil rights of students and their communities
Promote Higher Education Affordability in Texas
- Increase investment in the state’s community colleges and four year postsecondary institutions
- Increase state investment in need-based financial aid: Fully fund the TEXAS grant, TEOG, and TEG
- Allocate federal and state funding for emergency aid to college students
Support All Students to Prepare For and Succeed in College and Career
- Provide effective college preparation for young Texans: Ensure that all students are prepared with a rigorous curriculum and remove gaps in access to advanced coursework, implement need-based financial aid for dual credit, expand access to high quality college and career advising for all secondary students, map clear pathways to high-value credentials and degrees
- Reduce barriers to college admission: Protect the Texas Dream Act and increase access to state and institutional financial aid for undocumented and DACA-recipient students, Protect existing automatic admissions rules at Texas public universities including the Top Ten Percent Plan
- Support the mental and physical health of postsecondary students: Address college hunger and food insecurity at Texas colleges and universities by expanding student SNAP access, Establish a task force to identify best practices in higher education mental health services, Approve Medicaid expansion
We hope you find the information useful and we hope you can share your support for these initiatives to elected officials and to leaders at education institutions. Together we can promote policies that lead to more college breakthroughs across our region and beyond.