Get Involved-Spotlight: Breakthrough Austin
1050 East 11th St., Suite 350
Austin, TX 78702
Breakthrough builds a path to college, starting in middle school, for low-income students who will be first-generation college graduates. See www.breakthroughaustin.org for more info.
Want to change a child’s life? Volunteer with Breakthrough! We are looking for volunteers to tutor, help with homework and assist with college and scholarship applications; provide administrative, project, and special event support; and represent Breakthrough at their place of employment.
Breakthrough’s Mission: Founded in Austin in 2001, Breakthrough builds a path to college, starting in middle school, for low-income students who will be first-generation college graduates. Recognizing the importance of building skills and confidence through early intervention, Breakthrough makes a six-year commitment to low-income students, beginning in sixth grade. Breakthrough provides academically rigorous summer programs at the University of Texas taught by outstanding high school and college students from around the country, tutoring, application workshops, test preparation, a college-going culture, and the information and advocacy families need to negotiate the many complex steps needed to be college-ready, to gain college admission, and to secure financial aid. Along with community support, our combination of individualized case management, rigorous programming, a “do whatever it takes” philosophy, and performance management allows Breakthrough to address low-income students’ unique academic needs and personal circumstances as they work to become the first in their families to go to college.
Our Students: In 2010, Breakthrough serves approximately 250 students in grades 7 through 12, as well as our two classes of high school graduates. 76% are Latino/Hispanic, 19% are African American; 61% are female; 60% speak English as a second language; 92% qualify for free and reduced lunch; and almost all will be first-generation college graduates. Breakthrough works to combat the many educational inequalities that these students face and strives to overcome the obstacles on their path to college.
Our Impact: Breakthrough’s mission is for students to graduate from high school and college, resulting in improved social conditions and economic security for themselves, their families and the community as a whole. In just seven years, Breakthrough has had a significant positive impact on our community.-Breakthrough students graduate from high school, enroll in college, attend more selective schools, and persist in college at much higher rates than other low-income students.
-For the past two years, more than 90% of Breakthrough seniors graduated from high school in four years.
-Approximately 70% of Breakthrough graduates are currently enrolled in college.
-The Class of 2009 earned scholarships and admission to 55 different colleges and universities.
-Attrition rate across all six cohorts is less than 10%.
-In 2009, 89% of Breakthrough 9th graders in Austin ISD passed all portions of the TAKS, as compared to 54% of Texas’ low-income students and 64% of all Austin ISD students.
-More than 80% of Breakthrough middle school students and 50% of high school students are enrolled in advanced classes.
-On the SAT, Breakthrough students outperform other low-income Texas students on both the verbal and math components of the exam.
-Every year, students participating in the Summer Program show statistically significant gains on the reading, writing, and math sections of the nationally-normed WIAT II test.
-After the 2008 pilot of our 9th Grade Summer Program, 17% more freshmen passed all their school year classes than in the previous year.
Breakthrough’s ripple effects are huge – our students’ positive attitudes and academic aspirations grow a college-going culture in their schools. Younger siblings are inspired to join-we now have 41 pairs of related students. Parents recruit neighbors. Our students volunteer in the community; teaching interns often become educators; and mentor teachers use Breakthrough strategies in their own schools, impacting the learning environment of many more classrooms.
Volunteers are Key: Volunteers are vital to our success, providing much of the tutoring and attention that students receive while in the program. We are looking for people interested in making a positive difference in the lives of low-income students, and who can volunteer on a regular basis.
Volunteer opportunities include:
- After School Homework Help and Tutoring: Help students build their knowledge and academic skills, providing them with the tools to be successful. Tutoring takes place at the Breakthrough office, and in middle schools and high schools around Austin. Successful tutors commit to a regular schedule every week, volunteering as few as 2 hours and as many as 12 hours per week.
- Application Coaches: Support our students by helping them complete their high school, college and scholarship applications. Coaches meet with students periodically to offer guidance and feedback, help students express themselves persuasively and articulately, and keep students on a timeline to completion.
- School Success Coaches: Work one-on-one with individual students to help them be successful in school. Coaches work closely with case managers to identify specific student needs and interests. Coaches will check in with students regularly to monitor attendance and grades and encourage students by serving as positive role models.
- Alumni Outreach: Assist with keeping in touch with Breakthrough alumni (66 students) through Facebook, email and phone. Help those in college stay in college by offering encouragement, guidance and support. Assist those not yet in college to apply and enroll. Create and send care packages to Breakthrough alumni each semester. Help to plan and implement alumni reunions.
- Phone Bank: Bilingual volunteers needed to make calls to Breakthrough families in Spanish regarding upcoming events. Hours vary depending on upcoming events.
- Translators: Translate written documents, such as flyers and letters, from English to Spanish, for distribution to families. Provide verbal translation to Spanish speaking families during Breakthrough events. Hours vary depending on need.
- Administrative Associates: Support Breakthrough staff with a broad range of tasks, including filing, data entry, mailing, PR and marketing, resource preparation, and scheduling. Successful associates commit to a regular weekly schedule; however, the number of hours can vary depending on the schedule of the volunteer.
- Project and Special Events: Provide critical support for a host of projects and events such as celebrations and workshops throughout the year which generally occur evenings or weekends. This opportunity is especially convenient for volunteers looking for a shorter-term commitment, a more flexible schedule, or a particular project to support.
- Corporate Representatives: Representatives help initiate employee-giving and volunteer recruitment programs at their respective offices or organizations. This opportunity is ongoing at the volunteers’ workplace, and does not necessarily require a set regular schedule or travel to Brea
Contact Information: Please email email@example.com or fill out a volunteer application at http://www.breakthroughaustin.org/involved/volunteer.html. If you have any questions, please contact:
(512) 692-9444 ext. 20
Thank you for supporting Breakthrough!