Who We Are

Our Mission

Breakthrough Miami uses a unique “students-teaching-students” model to create a rigorous, vibrant learning community, where highly motivated, traditionally underrepresented 5th-12th grade students are supported to achieve post-secondary success and emerging leaders are inspired to become the next generation of educators and advocates.

Breakthrough Miami currently serves 1,300 middle and high school students at seven community campus locations (Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, Gulliver Prep, Miami Country Day School, Palmer Trinity School, Ransom Everglades School, Saint Andrew’s School and the University of Miami). Acceptance into the program is based on a competitive application and interview process, in which we identify students who are academically motivated and meet at least two of the following five risk factors associated with failure to enter/complete college:

  • Ethnic/racial minorities (96% of our students)

  • Family income qualifies for free/reduced lunch (85%)

  • First generation in their families to attend college in the U.S. (48%)

  • Single-parent household (47%)

  • Primary language other than English (50%)

Breakthrough Miami was recognized as the nation’s best summer learning programming with the 2018 NY LIfe Excellence in Summer Learning Award by the National Summer Learning Association.

The Opportunity Gap

Approximately 94% of Breakthrough Scholars attend Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the nation’s fourth largest school district. Miami-Dade County is a region of dramatic economic inequality, where a majority of residents are foreign born and more than half of all children live in households with family incomes at or below 150% of the U.S. poverty level.

While the five-year graduation rate for MDCPS students shows an upward trend, 29.6% of Black students, 20.8% of Latino students, and 21.9% of low-income students fail to graduate from high school (Florida Department of Education, 2016). Further evidence indicates specific gaps in opportunity relating to learning time beyond the classroom. Students from affluent families reach middle school with up to 6,000 more hours of learning, by virtue of athletics, extracurricular activities, clubs, cultural experiences, summer camp, travel and other programs not available to families without resources (After school Alliance, 2009).

Additionally, skill loss that occurs during the summer (summer slide, summer learning loss, or the summer setback), is more prevalent in lower-resourced communities, and its effect is cumulative, resulting in wider gaps as time goes on (Quinn and Polikoff, 2017). Miami-Dade County Public Schools reports the summer slide is the single most important factor in the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and others (Blazer, 2011). Breakthrough Miami is positioned in our community as an opportunity generator to address this inequality.

The Opportunity Generator

Breakthrough Miami opens doors of opportunity for our Scholars through evidence-based programming that positions students for success in college, beginning in the 5th grade. The following statistics demonstrate the positive impact of the Breakthrough Miami model:

  • For the 2019 class of graduating seniors, 100% graduated on time from high school, and 96% enrolled in college, with 96% selecting four-year institutions (including the University of Richmond, Mount Holyoke, Morehouse College, University of Florida, Florida State and others). Fourteen of our Scholars have received nationally competitive Posse or Gates Millennium awards over the past six years.
  • 85% graduated with at least four years of college-prep math, 97% took the ACT or SAT, and 100% completed the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

We also track a series of metrics for 8th through 11th graders, with strong evidence-based correlation to college success:

  • Among students enrolled in the 2018-19 school year, 75% of 11th grade students took two or more advanced classes, 77% of 10th grade students had GPAs of 3.0 or higher, 65% of 9th graders took Geometry of Algebra II, and 61% of 8th graders took Algebra I or Geometry

Data collected by the National Student Clearinghouse reveals the long-term impact of the Breakthrough Miami model on college persistence. We are now in the sixth year of reliably tracking persistence and six-year degree attainment at the individual student level:

  • The average immediate enrollment in four-year institutions by our Scholars exceeded 75%, compared with 60% of all students nationally, regardless of socio-economic background.
  • More than 80% of Breakthrough Miami alumni with the opportunity to persist to the second year of college are doing so, as compared with 70% of college students nationwide, and 52% of Pell Grant recipients.
  • Our six-year graduation rate at 68% is on par with national averages for all students, regardless of socio-economic background.

Breakthrough Miami continues to gain local and national recognition as an unparalleled program with evidence-based models proven to support low-income, minority students traditionally at risk for high school and college completion.

Breakthrough Miami was awarded Best Summer Learning Program in the Country with the 2018 New York Life Excellence in Summer Learning Award from the National Summer Learning Association. This award recognizes programs that demonstrate excellence in accelerating academic achievement, and the promotion of healthy development for students in underserved communities.


Breakthrough Miami is one of the largest affiliates of the Breakthrough Collaborative, which includes 24 affiliate partners using the signature students-teaching-students model to support traditionally under-represented students to achieve post-secondary success and inspire emerging leaders to become educators and advocates.

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