New York Life Foundation Awards

New York Life Foundation Awards 2-Year, $100,000 Grant to Breakthrough Miami to Help Middle School Students Transition to 9th Grade

Competitive Award Recognizes Breakthrough Miami as National Leader in Out-Of-School-Time Learning

The New York Life Foundation’s “Aim High” program, a partnership with the Afterschool Alliance announced a 2-year, $100,000 grant to be awarded to Breakthrough Miami. The grant program is focused on supporting middle school students as they transition to 9th grade. One of only eight organizations nationally to receive funding in this category, Breakthrough Miami will use this grant to support the implementation of a new Scholar Success Plan initiative designed to:

  • Ensure middle school Scholars are enrolled and succeeding in academic courses that provide appropriate levels of rigor and challenge and aligned with their academic goals.
  • Foster greater understanding, ownership, and initiative among Scholars for their educational pathway to high school, by setting vision and goals, developing academic plans, and engaging in systematic academic guidance. 
  • Serve as a bridge between BTM’s existing “School Options” counseling in 5th and 8th grade which supports Scholar application processes to middle and high schools respectively, to more effectively support Scholar’s academic transitions.
  • Position Scholars for the transition to 9th grade and success in rigorous high school.

“Since our inaugural Breakthrough Miami class of 40 middle school students in 1991, we continue to ensure motivated yet underserved students have equitable access to excellent educational resources, experiences, and opportunities,” said Lori-Ann Cox, CEO of Breakthrough Miami. “Through our Scholar Success Plan initiative, we are embedding a student-centered approach to academic planning to empower students to create and track their pathway towards a successful transition to 9th grade and beyond, fully maximizing their abilities, interests, talents, and aspirations.” 

Research has shown that for under-resourced students, the additional learning time in the form of high-quality out-of-school-time (OST) learning programs, including after school, expanded day, and summer programs,  leads to greater academic achievement, better school attendance, and higher engagement. Further, a successful transition to 9th grade is particularly critical to student success.

Aim High is part of the New York Life Foundation’s ongoing investment in OST programs to aid disadvantaged 8th graders reach the 9th grade on time and prepare for high school. Afterschool, summer, and expanded learning programs nationwide are chosen for grants through a review process run in collaboration with the Afterschool Alliance. Winners were selected based on the power of their support for youth in transition to ninth grade – regarding success as on-time graduation, school attendance rates, improved behavior, grades, and test scores – by a committee comprised of individuals from the New York Life Foundation and youth development specialists whose organizations are members of the Afterschool Alliance. 

“Students and families are facing immense hardships as a result of COVID-19 and they need additional academic and social-emotional support now more than ever,” said Marlyn Torres, senior program officer, New York Life Foundation. “Middle school students benefit greatly from the support and engagement opportunities provided by afterschool and summer programs, so these programs must have the funding and flexibility to continue this important work.” 

As an integral part of the first virtual Summer Institute, Breakthrough Miami has launched the Scholar Success Plans across all middle school grade levels, supporting students in goal-setting and academic planning by way of small groups and one on one coaching sessions.  

Across the country, OST programs have shown to lead to greater academic achievement, better school attendance and higher engagement, increased resilience among young people and supported positive youth development. The 2-Year, $100,000 Grant will help Breakthrough Miami continue to support youth in enhanced ways ultimately helping them successfully transition to high school. Given the expanding needs of families and students in response to the pandemic, Breakthrough Miami’s evidence-based model is mitigating the impact of lost instructional time and an exacerbated learning loss now referred to as “COVID-slide.”

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