A college degree can be a meaningful step toward economic mobility and a long-term career. But like any milestone, it’s a challenge, all the more so for students who would be the first in their family to attend and graduate. That’s where Breakthrough Central Texas comes in. Located in more than 50 middle schools across Greater Austin, the nonprofit makes a 12-year commitment to support sixth-grade students who commit to earning a college degree.
While the coronavirus has impacted the lives of all students, it has disproportionately affected children in under-resourced communities like those enrolled in Breakthrough Central Texas. These are students who must often overcome food insecurity (83% qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches) and language barriers (English is a second language for 60%). In such circumstances the Breakthrough program — which focuses on extended learning opportunities, individual case management and leadership skills — has become more critical than ever.
The more than 2,000 students participating in Breakthrough Central Texas make the most of the program. Nine of out 10 stick with Breakthrough from sixth grade through college, and participants are seven times more likely to graduate from college than other low-income students in Central Texas. So far, 180 Breakthrough students have graduated from college.
Support from Bank of America helps sustain a core component of the program that helps prepare students for post-graduation jobs with training for interviews and summer internships.