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Breakthrough Greater Boston

 PO Box 381486
 Cambridge, MA 02238
[P] (617) 349-6647
[F] (617) 349-6810
Elissa Spelman
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 04-3307783

LAST UPDATED: 09/27/2018
Organization DBA Breakthrough Greater Boston
Former Names Breakthrough Cambridge (2008)
Summerbridge Cambridge (1992)
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No


Mission StatementMORE »

Breakthrough Greater Boston prepares low-income students for success in college and trains the next generation of urban teachers using its unique Students Teaching Students model.

Mission Statement

Breakthrough Greater Boston prepares low-income students for success in college and trains the next generation of urban teachers using its unique Students Teaching Students model.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Oct 01, 2017 to Sept 30, 2018
Projected Income $2,109,000.00
Projected Expense $2,043,001.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • High School Program
  • Middle School Program
  • Teacher Program

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

Breakthrough Greater Boston prepares low-income students for success in college and trains the next generation of urban teachers using its unique Students Teaching Students model.

Background Statement


In 2017, Breakthrough Greater Boston (BTGB) celebrates our 25th year of helping low-income students of color gain the academic skills and the confidence to successfully access and persist through college. Founded in 1992 by MacArthur Genius Awardee Dr. Angela Duckworth, BTGB works to improve educational equity by inspiring excitement for learning, creating paths to college, and promoting careers in education. Since our founding, BTGB has provided opportunities for almost 2,500 students and teachers. Over the past six years, 97% of our graduating seniors have been admitted to college. 82% are persisting, putting Breakthrough students on a track to far exceed the national college graduation rate of around 15% for low-income students.

In 2013, after twenty years of success in Cambridge, we introduced Breakthrough’s model to Boston, which will deliver BTGB’s full six years of programming in 2018-19. In 2017, BTGB entered into a partnership agreement with Somerville Public Schools to open a third site in the summer of 2018.

BTGB works to improve educational equity by inspiring excitement for learning, creating paths to college, and promoting careers in education. BTGB stands apart from other college access programs in that we offer comprehensive academic support that intervenes early (before 7th grade) and continues for six years. Our unique Students Teaching Students model features near-peer instruction and mentoring. BTGB has consistently demonstrated that low-income students and students of color can achieve at the highest level when engaged in a culture of high expectations and provided the support necessary to advance academically.


Impact Statement

 Currently, BTGB serves over 400 low-income middle and high school students. In 2013, after twenty years of success in Cambridge, we introduced Breakthrough’s model to Boston, which will deliver BTGB’s full six years of programming in 2018-19. In 2017, BTGB entered into a partnership agreement with Somerville Public Schools to open a third site, enabling us to enroll 50 rising 7th grade students in 2018 and adding a new class each year, until BTGB offers six years of comprehensive programming to 900 students in three cities.

Upon completion of our six-year program, each BTGB participant has received 1,800 hours of out of school time academic enrichment and college readiness support consisting of: rigorous coursework in core subject areas; hands-on science workshops; individual subject tutoring; one: one mentoring and coaching; structured group study; and college access sessions.
Teacher fellows, the high achieving college and high school students who we recruit to teach our middle school students, receive 500 hours of training and coaching.
STUDENT ACCOMPLISHMENT – Over the past six years, 97% of our seniors have matriculated to four-year college.
TEACHER ACCOMPLISHMENT – On average, more than 75% of graduating Teaching Fellows continue to pursue careers in the field of urban education.
ORGANIZATIONAL AWARDS – The Breakthrough model has been awarded many high honors, including the Drucker Institute Award for Nonprofit Innovation, the Bayer Compendium Best Practice in K-12 STEM Education, Senator Barbara Boxer’s Excellence in Education Award, John Hopkins University’s Excellence in Summer Learning Award, and Columbia University’s Kingenstein Leadership Award. Breakthrough was selected in 2010 by Root Cause as one of Greater Boston’s Seven Top College Access and Success Organizations. 


Needs Statement


Breakthrough Greater Boston's top five most pressing needs for 2017 are:
1.) Support BTGB’s final two years of expansion to Boston and launch in Somerville, increasing the number of high-need students served from 400 to 900 across three cities.
2.) Support for Full STEAM Ahead, BTGB’s new year-round (summer and after school) comprehensive and challenging Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math program serving over 200 high-need 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students in Boston and Cambridge.
3.) Support for BTGB’s high school programs, including Study Hall Plus, and College Access Program.
4.) Support for Breakthrough Greater Boston's Teacher Program, which trains high-achieving high school and college students to implement curricula, plan daily lessons, and manage student behavior as part of our unique students-teaching-students model.
5.) Board Diversification. With our expansion to Boston, we have recruited several Boston-based board members. We hope to continue to diversify our board to reflect the Cambridge, Boston and Somerville communities we serve.

CEO Statement


Board Chair Statement


Geographic Area Served

Greater Boston Region-All Neighborhoods
Breakthrough Greater Boston serves highly motivated, high-need youth in the cities of Cambridge, Boston, and Somerville.

Organization Categories

  1. Education - Elementary & Secondary Schools
  2. Education - Secondary & High Schools
  3. Youth Development - Youth Development Programs

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



High School Program

The High School Program helps each student to succeed in college-track classes and gain admittance to a 4-year college through a program with three core elements: 1) Advocacy that provides assistance with course selection and tutor matching, 2) High School Readiness Programming for 9thgraders, 3) Internship placement for 10th-12thgraders, and 4) a College Access Program that supports students completing their college applications. Throughout high school, we provide students with up to 160 hours of academic and college access support each year.

Budget  .
Category  Education, General/Other Afterschool Enrichment
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years)
Program Short-Term Success 


The capstone of students’ Breakthrough experience, our College Access Program, builds on our work with students since middle school to prepare high school juniors and seniors for their successful matriculation to four-year college. Breakthrough provides high school juniors and seniors with individualized support and mentoring as they navigate the college application and financial aid process. We pair each student with a College Access Coach, who they work with one-on-one as they research colleges in the spring of junior year, write college essays and resumes throughout the fall, and complete college and scholarship applications throughout the rest of senior year.

Study Hall Plus is successfully piloted for 45 9th grade students in2014, helping to improve their study habits and academic outcomes through a structured environment, study groups, tutoring, and grade-specific programming. 10th grade implementation will occur in 2015.


Program Long-Term Success 

In 2013, 100% of BTGB seniors matriculated to four year colleges that include: Boston University, Clark University, Fairfield University, Harvard University, Johnson & Wales University, Purdue University, Syracuse University, Tufts University, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, Dartmouth, Lowell; Vassar College, and Wheaton College.

In 2013 16 students in 10th-12th grades completed the Palante Internship Program. Students interned during the summer at organizations throughout Cambridge and the greater Boston area that included Harvard Museum of Natural History, Reach Out and Read, and Youth Broadcasters of America. Palante students also attended weekly professional skills workshops at Breakthrough, with topics that included resume-building, interviewing, and professional email and phone etiquette. Additionally, BTGB organized a career panel and a mock interview session for students.

Program Success Monitored By 

Breakthrough monitors the success of our High School Program in the following ways:


1. Breakthrough measures how many successful tutoring matches are made for students receiving a “B” or below in a core subject.

2. Breakthrough tracks the number of scholarship and extracurricular applications we help students to complete.

Study Hall Plus

1. Enrollment levels: Serve 45 9th grade students in 2014 and approximately 100 total students in 2015

2. Track student outcomes measured by academic performance and college access

Palante Internship Program

1. Enrollment levels: We anticipate providing internships for approximately 20 10th-12thgraders.

2. Maintain and strengthen successful existing internship partnerships with internship sites we have worked with during the last four years.

3. Recruit new internship sites in order to provide a broader, more diverse array of professional experiences to our students.

4. Conduct student surveys to carefully evaluate the internship based on the student’s perceived value of the professional experience.

5. Conduct site supervisor surveys to evaluate satisfaction with hosting a Palante intern.

College Access Program

1. College Access Coaches track when different milestones in the college application process have been reached to ensure timeliness of actions as well as efficiency of guidance.

2. Percentage of active high school seniors who are accepted into and matriculate to a four-year college or university.

Examples of Program Success 

High School Student Testimonial

Breakthrough is currently helping me through one of the scariest processes of my life so far—college applications. As the first in my family to attend college, it is a relief to know that I have Breakthrough’s support as I start this process. They enrolled me in a free SAT prep class to ensure that my scores are as high as possible. They sent me on a day trip to visit Brown, where I hope to apply. They have weekly meetings with each starting in the spring of their junior year to work on college applications. With the help and preparation they have given and still give me, I am confident enough to apply to the top colleges and universities in the country  this fall. Next year at this time, I will be receiving my college acceptance letters and preparing to graduate in the top 10% of my class. Breakthrough helped me set high expectations for myself, build a strong academic foundation, and gave me confidence that my goals can be achieved if I continue to work hard.

Middle School Program

The Middle School Program is a fun, rigorous, year-round academic program with three components: 1) an intensive six-week, full day Summer Program offering core academic classes and a 3:1 student to teacher ratio, 2) a School-Year Program that features weekly after school and tutoring, and 3) a year-round Advocacy Program that includes regular contact with teachers and families, high school options counseling, and more. Breakthrough provides middle school students with approximately 300 hours of academic support each year.

Budget  .
Category  Education, General/Other Afterschool Enrichment
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years) Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) Minorities
Program Short-Term Success 

Students’ pre- and post-program test scores in Summer 2013 demonstrated that 100% of students increased their understanding of Physics and Chemistry concepts, and 92% increased their understanding of Biology concepts. 100% of 7th and 8th graders made gains in Algebra and Pre-Algebra, with most significant gains in Fractions, Decimals, and Percents. 84% of students improved their writing skills. 98% of students finished the summer believing they are going to college. Results from our family survey show that 98% of families noted their students’ confidence increased as a result of their Breakthrough experience.

Program Long-Term Success 

By intervening early, extending learning time up to 1200 hours over six years and cultivating a college-going culture at Breakthrough, BTGB transforms lives by helping at-risk students achieve their goal of college. For the past six years, 97% of our students have matriculated to college.

Program Success Monitored By 

Our work with students is most commonly assessed in three primary ways:

1) Pre and Post-Testing: Students complete pre- and post-summer academic skill testing to provide data on success of classes.

2) Formative and Summative Assessments: Teachers are trained in various assessment techniques to ensure that students are meeting program-wide objectives during class.

3) Qualitative Evaluations: Students complete surveys on the summer session.

Examples of Program Success 

Middle School Student Testimonial 

I am going in to ninth grade and this is my third year at Breakthrough. I have wanted to go to Breakthrough since I was in kindergarten. I've wanted to go to Breakthrough because after going to family night with my sister and brother when I was in kindergarten, I saw all the energetic teachers. I wanted to become the biggest member of BTGB. I was so mad that I had to wait 5 years to be affected by the BTGB spirit. I was so happy when Breakthrough staff members finally came to my school to hand out applications. I remember thinking, “They’re finally here! I’ll be able to go to Breakthrough in July.” When that first day came, I was so pumped! By the second day I was already making new friends and learning new things, like how to construct my own society and what a cumulonimbus cloud was. This year I had two amazing math teachers. They made learning math so easy and fun for me. They made it easy and fun by taking the time to think of a ton of crazy math lessons.

Teacher Program

The Teacher Program trains high-achieving college and high school students to teach. With guidance from professional educators, students shoulder the responsibilities of full-time educators as they implement curricula, plan daily lessons, manage student behavior, and commit their time to helping younger students follow in their footsteps on the road to college. Summer teachers receive 130 plus hours of training.


Budget  .
Category  Employment, General/Other Internships
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years)
Program Short-Term Success 

The short-term success of Breakthrough's Teacher Training Program is demonstrated by the following:

1) Breakthrough recruits highly motivated, diverse teachers with demonstrated interest in continuing in the field of education. In 2013, the average GPA of an accepted teacher was 3.6, and 53% of our teachers were of color.

2) Instructional Coaches and Program Directors evaluate teacher performance using the nationally developed Teacher Excellence Rubric. During summer 2013, we found that 100% of teachers showed gains in assessment areas, most significantly in Incorporation of Active Participation and Engaging Multiple Modalities During Direct Instruction.

3) All teachers complete a qualitative evaluation of the success of the summer session. In 2013, 95% of teachers reported high satisfaction with the overall Breakthrough experience.

Program Long-Term Success 

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, U.S. schools will need to hire between 2.9 and 5.1 million teachers between by 2020 in order to accommodate for retirements, teacher turnover and enrollment growth. By providing more than 130 hours of training and 65 hours of classroom experience, Breakthrough's Teacher Training Program addresses the national teacher shortage by inspiring and preparing talented young people to continue in the field of education. On average, 75% of graduating Teaching Fellows continue to pursue careers in urban education.

Program Success Monitored By 

BTGB evaluates the quality and success of teachers in four primary ways:

1) Teacher Hiring Process: Applicants to Breakthrough Greater Boston go through a rigorous application process that assesses their academic success, leadership, responsibility, success in working with children, and ability to respond well to feedback.

2) Classroom Observations & Teacher Excellence Rubric: Professional educators called Instructional Coaches and the Director of Curriculum and Instruction observe classroom instruction one to three times per week and complete a comprehensive evaluation rubric every two weeks to provide feedback to the teacher. 

3) Teacher Evaluations:All teachers completed qualitative evaluations of the success of the summer and school year sessions.

4) Continuation in the Field:On the survey mentioned above, we ask teachers about their future goals and aspirations. 
Examples of Program Success 

Breakthrough Teaching Fellow Testimonial 

I never thought in a million years that I would find my purpose in a building full of kids screaming “Humpty Dumpty” and something about “Peeling Bananas.”  But, I’ve fallen head over heels.  In the midst of the overzealous screaming and shouting there was something that slowly started to tug on my heart.  It was not the mind blowing statistics, but it was the innocent yet strong yearning that comes from a student whose aspirations outweigh their means.  I found my purpose in the curious eyes of the most talented and charming students that this world has to offer. Through this experience I have discovered my strengths, my weaknesses, and most of all my passion. Education.



CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments



CEO/Executive Director Ms. Elissa Spelman
CEO Term Start Aug 2009
CEO Email
CEO Experience

Elissa Spelman first joined Breakthrough Greater Boston as a Board Member, working actively on the Strategic Planning and Program Committees. Elissa’s previous post was as the first-ever Director of the Wellington Management Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting education programs for low-income youth, including some of the affiliate sites of the Breakthrough Collaborative. Elissa has broad experience in the field of education and has also worked with nonprofits focused on foster care, adoption and domestic violence. Elissa began her career as a third grade teacher at the Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester, MA and has taught in a variety of settings. Elissa received her M.A. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has a bachelor’s degree in education from Boston College.

Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
Ms. Alison Glastein Mar 2007 Aug 2008
Karin Elliott Sept 2005 Mar 2007

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Ms. Jennifer Corwin Director of Operations --
Mrs. Kristie Loftus Director of Development --
Ms. Jennie McDonald-Brown -- --
Mrs. Paulina Murton Director of Curriculum and Instruction --
Ms. Amee Naik High School Program Director

Amee started at Breakthrough Greater Boston in 2009 as the College Access Coordinator, working to help our high school juniors and seniors navigate the college search and application process. As the High School Program Director, she supports all BTC high school students by working with families, teachers, and guidance counselors to provide them with the supports and resources needed to succeed throughout high school and ultimately enroll in a 4-year college or university. Prior to joining the Breakthrough team, Amee worked as an admissions officer for her alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis. She has also received her M.A. in child and adolescent development from Tufts University. In her free time, Amee enjoys reading, baking, and exploring a newfound interest in photography.


Award Awarding Organization Year
Non-profit of the Year Award Finalist Cambridge Chamber of Commerce 2012
NPEA Excellence in Collaboration Award Finalist National Partnership for Educational Access (NPEA) 2012
Bayer Compendium Best Practice in K-12 STEM Education Bayer Corporation 2010
Drucker Institute Award for Nonprofit Innovation Drucker Institute 2010
One of Top 7 College Access and Success Organizations in Greater Boston Root Cause 2010
Senator Barbara Boxer’s Excellence in Education Award United States Government 2009
Excellence in Summer Learning Award Johns Hopkins University 2007
Klingenstein Leadership Award Columbia University 2006


Affiliation Year
Affiliate/Chapter of National Organization (i.e. Girl Scouts of the USA, American Red Cross, etc.) - Affiliate/chapter 1992
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association Massachusetts Nonprofit Network

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


BTGB most commonly collaborates with five main sectors:

National Partners: The Breakthrough Collaborative has formal  partnerships with teacher training and college access organizations ACCESS, Boston Teacher Residency, MATCH, Posse Foundation, and Teach for America.

Public Schools: The Cambridge Public Schools and Boston Public Schools provide significant funding for BTGB's programs, as well as in-kind office and program space. 

Referral Partners: Strong relationships exist between BTC and a number of academic and scholarship programs, enabling us to regularly refer our students for worthwhile opportunities. These include Upward Bound, Summer Search, Harvard Crimson Academy, A Better Chance, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Posse Boston and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination).

Institutions of Higher Education: Numerous colleges and universities nationwide partner with BTGB for special programs, teacher development and college access. Key partners include: Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University, Lesley University, MIT, and Tufts University.

Businesses:  National and local companies partner with BTGB to provide fiscal support, volunteers, in-kind donations or meeting space. Private sector partners current include: Google, Microsoft, Cambridge Innovation Center, and Cambridge Trust Company. 

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 14
Number of Part Time Staff 100
Number of Volunteers 155
Number of Contract Staff 100
Staff Retention Rate % 78%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 4
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 4
Caucasian: 5
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 11
Male: 3
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Management Succession Plan --
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit --
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually


Board Chair Mrs. Melanie Goins
Board Chair Company Affiliation
Board Chair Term Jan 2016 - Jan
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Ms. Clara Arroyave Co-Founder and CEO, PlaceMe Inc. --
Ms. Caroline Carmichael State Street --
Mr. Gene Corbin Harvard University Voting
Mr. Jeff Davis Ernst & Young Voting
Ms. Shella Dennery Boston Children's Hospital Voting
Ms. Christine Gilman Community Volunteer Voting
Ms. Melanie Forbes Goins WilmerHale Voting
Ms. Anne Goldenheim Community Volunteer Voting
Mr. Michael Haynes Fidelity Investments Voting
Mr. Edwin Johnson St. James Church Voting
Ms. Monique Johnson Family Representative Voting
Mr. James Kelleher Liberty Mutual Voting
Ms. Yolanda Kodrzycki Vice President and Director of the New England Public Policy Center (retired), Federal Reserve Bank of Boston --
Ms. Miriam McKendall Holland & Knight Voting
Mr. Jonathan Piskorowski Equity Analyst, The Boston Company --
Mr. Kenya Rutland KJR Consulting Voting
Mr. Abdi Samater Family Representative Voting
Jeffrey Singer Chief Investment Officer, Investment Group (retired) --
Ms. Elissa Spelman Breakthrough Greater Boston Voting
Mr. Fred Tung Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Boston University School of Law --
Ms. Trudi Veldman AbbVie Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 6
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 12
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 10
Male: 10
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 75%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

  • Board Governance
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Executive
  • Finance
  • Program / Program Planning

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $2,347,227 $2,123,186 $1,954,951
Total Expenses $2,318,947 $2,109,323 $1,805,100

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $2,346,009 $1,194,110 $1,137,345
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue -- -- --
Investment Income, Net of Losses $1,218 $575 $2,565
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind -- $928,501 $815,041
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $1,883,376 $1,700,953 $1,436,284
Administration Expense $94,617 $86,543 $69,469
Fundraising Expense $340,954 $321,827 $299,347
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.01 1.01 1.08
Program Expense/Total Expenses 81% 81% 80%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 15% 27% 26%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $980,273 $945,991 $928,630
Current Assets $951,839 $910,026 $878,346
Long-Term Liabilities -- $0 $0
Current Liabilities $14,118 $8,116 $4,618
Total Net Assets $966,155 $937,875 $924,012

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy --
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line Yes
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 67.42 112.13 190.20

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Note Regarding In-Kind Contributions
In-kind contributions of goods and services totaling $692,855 and $490,237 were received in fiscal years 2013 and 2012, respectively and recognized as contributions and allocated to program expenses. In-kind contributions were for donated services requiring specialized skills, performed by people with those skills and would otherwise be purchased by the Organization. In kind contributions also included donated space, stock and other non cash donations. All in-kind contributions were recorded as contributions at their fair market values at the date of donation.

Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above is per the organization's audited financials. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

At BTGB we believe that a college education offers a critical breakthrough for low-income students we serve and that readiness is the key to succeeding at college. We work with 7th through 12th grade students to ensure that they are academically ready for college and equipped with the skills and habits they need to both access and persist at college.

We also engage high achieving college and high school students as teacher fellows to inspire excellence in urban education. Our teacher fellows are bright, energetic, and driven. They come from diverse academic and personal backgrounds, but share a strong commitment to learning the art of teaching, to the Breakthrough mission, and to making a real and lasting impact on their students.

We strive to close the achievement gap, which in Boston is markedly high. In 2013, Boston MCAS tests revealed a 29% academic skills gap between African American and Latino students and their Caucasian peers in Math, a 13% gap in English Language Arts, and a 41% gap in Science and Technology/Engineering. Researchers striving to explain unequal academic achievement find that much is attributable to differences in the number of hours young people spend in constructive enrichment activities outside of school. Unfortunately, 60% and 66% of students in Boston, respectively, do not participate in OST or summer learning programs. Through our six years of intensive, tuition-free, out-of-school time programming, Breakthrough changes students' academic trajectories and supports them along the path to four-year college.

Breakthrough works to improve educational equity by:
Inspiring Excitement for Learning: At Breakthrough, small classes, hands-on learning, and enthusiastic teachers create a culture of active learning. Motivated, diverse middle school students take ownership over their education, gaining the skills and confidence they need to excel in school. Our 95% daily attendance rate is evidence of our students’ excitement for learning and dedication to Breakthrough.

Creating Paths to College: Breakthrough challenges, prepares and supports diverse, low-income middle school students to succeed in rigorous high school programs and go on to college. In 2013 100% of our seniors have matriculated into four-year college.

Promoting Careers in Education: Breakthrough cultivates leadership in talented high school and college students who teach classes and help to run our programs. Through training, support and hands-on experience, Breakthrough teachers are inspired to become the next generation of America’s educators. Our 2015 teachers hailed from top schools such as Princeton, Tufts, Smith, Oberlin, Spelman, Georgetown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Stanford, Northwestern, and the University of Virginia.

We are committed to replicating our success in Boston through our six-year partnership agreement with TechBoston Academy (TBA) in Dorchester. BTGB's budget is growing at an average rate of 25% a year to support our programmatic growth.

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

Enter a Breakthrough Greater Boston (“BTGB”) classroom and you will be struck by the vitality of the learning process—it’s a place where it’s cool to be smart! A positive can-do spirit infuses every interaction, and teachers and students learn and model the reciprocal ethic of care and respect. BTGB creates a community of excellence, collegiality, and hope where the belief is always conveyed that “you are going to college.” At a study break the students break into a spirit cheer, their smiles wide and their voices loud. “P-O-W-E-R” …”We’ve got the power ‘cause we are the Breakthrough crew!” Once you’ve got the breakthrough spirit, you never lose it. You carry it back into your regular classroom, into your home to your siblings, and you carry it forward through your education and life.

BTGB delivers six years of intensive, tuition-free, out of school time programming that:

Offers early intervention: Research suggests that students need to be on track for college - achieving academically, demonstrating good study habits, and developing positive relationships - by 8th grade if they are to be successful in college. BTGB first engages students during middle school - inspiring a love of learning, closing skill gaps, encouraging self-advocacy, and illuminating the path to college.

Narrows the achievement gap: BTGB effectively addresses the achievement gap by increasing opportunities for disadvantaged students who need OST program support most.

Extends learning time: Upon completion of our six-year program, the average BTGB student dedicates an additional 1200 out-of-school time hours towards their education.

Building Foundational Habits for Success
We recognize that college readiness is not just about academics. In addition to engaging in rigorous core academic coursework, our students are supported in developing our four habits of mind known as Spirit Checks:

Community Membership: Breakthrough students, families, and staff know that each person has a unique background and perspective that helps to define our community. We believe in and respect one another, just as we respect and believe in ourselves. We take ownership of our community by looking for ways to do more than what is asked of us.

Effective Communication: Breakthrough students, families, and staff do our best to communicate clearly and respectfully in our work and our social interactions. We listen carefully to each other, choose our words thoughtfully, and speak clearly.

Creative Problem Solving: Breakthrough students, families, and staff look at challenges from many angles and seek new ways to solve problems. We consider alternative points of view, because our minds are open to change, and we are interested in hearing others’ ideas.

Persistence: Breakthrough students, families, and staff stick to a goal until they meet it. We don't give up easily. We never say, "I can't do this," or, "It's too hard." We have confidence in our ability to succeed in the face of short term and long term challenges.

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

Strong, Sustained Leadership
Breakthrough has benefited from a consistent leadership team. Board Officers have all been with the organization for at least 3 years and the Executive Director has been with Breakthrough for 6 years. BTGB's Board convenes quarterly and is legally and fiscally responsible for the organization. The Board consists of 22 members who bring diverse experience to the organization. Executive, Development, Governance, Program and Finance Committees meet regularly.

Innovative programming and a leading edge curriculum
When their friends are sleeping in or hanging out, Breakthrough 7th graders are bent over their microscopes, carefully examining tissue samples from a biology dissection. In nearby classrooms, 8th grade students are testing water samples, discussing theme, characterization and symbolism, or debating U.S. immigration policy. In 9th grade classrooms, students are exploring Newton’s 3 Laws, constructing personal memoirs, or learning algebraic concepts.

Firmly rooted in the latest evidence-based pedagogical practices, BTGB’s program model delivers 1,200+ out of school time hours, enabling us to offer deep and varied learning experiences, diverse opportunities for skills development, one-on-one mentoring, and pragmatic career exploration.

Rich Community Collaborations
BTGB maintains multi-faceted partnerships that include:
• Cambridge Public Schools/TechBoston Academy: CPS and TBA provide funding for the BTGB program, as well as in-kind office/program space and technology. Additionally, CPS’s Deputy Superintendent and the TBA Co-Headmasters serve on Breakthrough’s Board of Directors.
• Referral Partners: Strong relationships exist between BTGB and a number of academic and scholarship programs, including Upward Bound, Summer Search, Harvard Crimson Academy, and Posse Boston.
• Colleges and Universities partner regularly with BTGB around special programs, teacher development and college access, including Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Lesley, MIT, and Tufts.
• Private sector companies such as EY, Google, State Street, Twitter, Microsoft, and Cambridge Trust Company partner with BTGB to provide fiscal support, volunteers, in-kind donations.

Engagement with Families
BTGB recognizes the primary role that the family plays in a student’s success. We employ full-time Directors of Student Services in both Boston and Cambridge who oversee a range of student support services that includes maintaining regular two-way communication with families and the Family Advisory Board.

Sound Operating Practices, and Financial Capacity
From a financial perspective, BTGB has enjoyed a 20-year history of fundraising success and an increasingly diversified funding base, averaging 25% growth over the past two years. Additionally, BTGB maintains a strong financial position, with a reserve savings to cover more than six months of operations.

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

BTGB is committed to achieving and strengthening the success of our programs in both Boston and Cambridge. We implement a comprehensive evaluation strategy developed in partnership with Mendelsohn Gittleman & Associates.

We track outputs such as: numbers of students served; student hours; attendance in summer, after school, and high school programs; retention; internships of our high school students; teacher fellow numbers and retention; and number of volunteers.

We track outcomes such as:

Student academic success: We evaluate student success in three primary ways:

 • Pre and Post Testing: Assessments focused on subject-specific academic skills, providing quantitative data to gauge the success of teaching, learning, and program curricula.

• Formative and Summative Assessments: BTGB teachers are trained in the following assessment approaches:
• Active Participation: Students are engaged during class every 3-5 minutes in mandatory demonstration of skills, enabling teachers to gauge student skill development.

• Final Projects: Each BTGB class culminates in a final project requiring students to demonstrate skills mastered throughout the course.
We also gather qualitative data through Student and Family Surveys in which BTGB students and parents respond to questions related, for example, to confidence, motivation, and ability to self-advocate.

College access: We track our seniors’ college acceptances, financial aid, and persistence. For the past six years, 97% of BTGB program seniors have matriculated to college.

Teacher fellows’ success and post-college career choices: Our teacher fellows’ teaching skills are assessed using the Teacher Excellence Rubric (TER), created by Breakthrough Collaborative, at the beginning and end of the program. At the end of the summer, our teachers also complete a survey on their experience at Breakthrough reflecting on the skills they learned, Breakthrough’s influence on their interest in teaching, and their overall satisfaction with the program. We track teachers’ post college plans; over 75% choose to continue in the teaching profession.

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

Since 1992, BTGB has supported the academic success and recruited, trained, and inspired of over 2500 students and Teaching Fellows.

We have developed an excellent year-round out of school time academic program. Following the six-week full-day summer session, BTGB students enter high school with excitement for learning and academic skills necessary to succeed in rigorous college-preparatory classes.

Nearly 100% of BTGB high school students enter four-year colleges immediately following high school. Over the past six years, 97% of graduating seniors have matriculated at four-year colleges, including Boston University, Clark University, Fairfield University, Harvard, Johnson & Wales University, Purdue, Syracuse, Tufts, UMass – Amherst, Dartmouth, Lowell; Vassar College, and Wheaton College.

Teaching at Breakthrough over the summer has been consistently ranked by Princeton Review as one of the Top Ten Internships in the U.S., along with working at the White House and the Supreme Court. Our summer 2015 teacher recruitment was the most competitive to date – over 600 applications were received for 70 teaching positions. Our teachers hailed from top schools such as Princeton, Tufts, Smith, Wheaton, Oberlin, Georgetown, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Stanford. The average teacher GPA was 3.6 and over half of our teachers were of color. On average, more than 75% of graduating teachers have continued to pursue careers in education.

BTGB’s new Boston site at TechBoston Academy (TBA) launched in June 2013 with an inaugural class of 29 students, 10 teachers, 2 instructional coaches and 2 directors and now serves over 80 students year-round. Activities preceding and enabling the successful launch were site selection and planning, partnership development and community outreach, staffing and organizational infrastructure development, and Board expansion.

Work in progress
Our Boston expansion will be fully implemented in 2018. The Boston site will continue to grow, recruiting an additional class of rising 7th graders annually, until a full six years of programming are offered – ultimately doubling the number of at-risk students benefiting from our services in Greater Boston.

In 2014 we introduced Study Hall Plus, a program which provides 9th and 10th grade students with additional opportunity to engage with their college-going BTGB cohort in supervised study sessions, receive individualized tutoring, and participate in supplemental workshops. We are currently piloting Study Hall Plus with our 9th grade students before rolling out to both 9th and 10th grades.

In our 25th year, BTGB’s current challenge is building and sustaining the growth in visibility and funding required to simultaneously support: 1. the next two years of BTGB’s Boston expansion, which represent the critical “last miles” of our six-year expansion to Boston, as our inaugural class enters 11th grade in fall 2017.; and 2) opening a third site serving the entire district of Somerville, enabling us to enroll 50 rising 7th grade students in 2018 and adding a new class each year, until BTGB offers six years of comprehensive programming to 900 students in three cities.