This educational program provides ambitious students with access to excellent tools, networks, and the opportunity to reach their potential.
Breakthrough Miami is an eight-year program for highly motivated students from under-resourced schools and communities in Miami-Dade. Actually, around 94% of Breakthrough Scholars attend Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
The program focuses its efforts on recruiting fourth graders to start the program in the summer before fifth grade and to remain in it until graduation from high school, with the support of 130 teaching fellows. Breakthrough now is actively serving around 1,300 students in middle school and high school, and every year around 100 kids are brought in and recruited out of fourth grade
“Scholars sacrifice almost every Saturday in the last chunk of their summer for the educational programming,” says Thomas Bean, Board Member and Director of Public and Community Engagement at Florida Power & Light (FPL)
“These kids are not randomly selected. These kids are specially recruited because they show high aptitude,” he adds. In fact, acceptance into the program is based on a competitive application and interview process, in which students who are academically motivated are identified
Scholars must meet two of five risk factors associated with failure to attend college, including low family income, ethnic minority, single-parent household, first generation in the family to attend college, and primary language other than English
“If you give kids resources and the right environment, you’d be amazed at what they can accomplish,” remarks Thomas Bean. “We are taking kids out of rougher areas and neighborhoods and putting them in educational settings with peers that are like them but surrounded by a supportive and encouraging atmosphere.
Kids usually attend classroom training on Saturdays, and in summer, they get to visit high-profile private schools. “They’re able to go into Carrollton, Miami Country Day and Ransom Everglades. These are private schools that are well resourced and where scholars are able to go in and get immersed in these settings,” adds Bean
Breakthrough also coordinates different field trips during the summer. For instance, scholars that are interested in STEM careers can tour the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant. “Students get to see what it’s like to be in a nuclear power plant, and they end up fascinated with the wildlife that’s growing and thriving, for we don’t employ just engineers, we also employ biologists and environmental scientists,” explains Thomas
Breakthrough Miami is having magnificent results. For the 2018 class of graduating seniors, 100% graduated on time from high school, and 94% enrolled in college. “There aren’t that many organizations that can consistently report a 100% graduation rate. This demonstrates that Breakthrough Miami has a clear vision of what it wants to accomplish in these kids’ lives and the role it wants to play in their futures,” he concludes.
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