2019-2020 Annual Report

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Dear Friends, It has been an unusual year for our world and for Breakthrough Houston. As I look back to our spring fundraising luncheon on March 2, 2020, where we highlighted Tony Danza as our keynote speaker, it was the beginning of elbow bumps instead of hugs, but not yet the mandatory mask wearing and social distancing. Things progressed rapidly after March 2. Watching the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the economic downturn and loss of jobs and with the attempts by school districts to set up virtual learning, we realized that our summer programs would be more important than ever. Summer learning loss happens each year, especially with underserved students, but summer 2020 proved to highlight that “summer slide� more significantly than ever before for both our middle and high school students. According to research from the Northwest Evaluation Association, a research-based, not-for-profit organization, 30% of Literacy and 50% of Math gains could be lost during the summer as a result of this pandemic. It often takes several months to return to baseline when students return to school in the fall. We worked diligently to quickly adapt our programs to fit a virtual model amid the turmoil and multiple crises our communities were experiencing. Our success is a huge testament to our Program Directors and our College Bound Directors for their commitment and leadership to increasing educational equity. As you read through this Impact Report, please understand that like everyone else, we were taking each day a step at a time knowing that our underserved families were challenged by their needs for food, housing, and technology. We offered our virtual programs with those challenges in mind, and we are celebrating the results. We see with the enclosed data and in the faces of our students and Teaching Fellows the vast achievements of the summer. Our gratitude goes out to all of you who believe in the work that we do and share our confidence that all children can succeed despite their economic status. We are proud of our students and Teaching Fellows and are anxious to see how the online learning that we provided this summer will help them tackle this 20/21 school year. Kathy Heinzerling Executive Director

2 | Breakthrough Houston 2019-2020 Impact Report

MORE THAN ACADEMICS Combatting Spring - and - Summer Slide Each summer, many students across the country experience “summer slide,” the loss of knowledge over summer break. Pandemic-related school closings and changes to learning environments will only exacerbate this phenomena as many students missed significant instruction for the last few months of the 2019-2020 school year. Breakthrough Houston combats learning loss by providing rigorous academic enrichment for highly motivated students. By engaging with curriculum aligned to state and college readiness standards, Breakthrough Houston students enter fall semester months ahead of their peers.

Building Relationships

Developing Digital Competency

During Advisory period each day, there was a ratio of 1 Teaching Fellow to 5 students. When surveyed at the end of the summer, most teachers and students overwhelmingly agreed that they were able to form meaningful bonds with each other. Students felt comfortable discussing academic stresses, as well as national political events and social issues.

As schools adapt to virtual environments, digital competency skills are becoming even more important for students to master. Breakthrough Houston students received lessons in “Zoom etiquette” and navigated the “new normal” of balancing academics and family commitments while learning from home. After learning online for the summer, students are now ready to tackle the 2020-2021 school year!

65% of students report they have an adult at Breakthrough they can talk to about their problems.

63 Hours

of virtual academic instruction and activities

85% Attendance

participation in over 75% of all virtual sessions

82% of students feel better prepared to use digital tools at school in the fall because of Breakthrough.

67% More Students exhibit growth mindset after participating in Breakthrough

Breakthrough Houston 2019-2020 Impact Report | 3

DAY IN THE VIRTUAL LIFE Breakthrough Student: Donatella (9th Grader, High School for Law and Justice)

8:30 AM

I try to wake up at 7, but I have several alarms ‘cause it’s hard to wake up in the summer. I guess I actually wake up at 8:30. The first thing I do is check my phone to make sure I haven’t missed any homework.


PM After classes are done, I usually get on a Zoom call with my friend. We work on homework together and then just talk about our day and catch up.

6:00 PM

Me and my mom make dinner if she’s not working overtime. I also clean up and feed my dogs. 4 | Breakthrough Houston 2019-2020 Impact Report

9:20 AM

I make myself breakfast during Advisory. Yesterday, one of our advisors showed us a video on how to relieve stress. I do sometimes get stressed and anxious, so that was helpful.


AM Newspaper, my elective, is my favorite class. I’m working on a story with one my friends about how we met through Breakthrough.

6:30 PM

I do homework on my yoga mat in my room because I’m sick of sitting in a chair all day. It’s the quietest place in the house.

9:30 AM

I go to my first class at the kitchen table. On Mondays and Wednesdays, that’s Geometry. I make sure I’m always muted and my camera is on.


AM During my break, I try to relax. I’ll watch YouTube. Or if I see my room is a mess, I’ll clean up before my elective class.

8:00 PM

At night, I’ll FaceTime a friend for a few hours. One of my friends got COVID-19 so I’m checking in on her to see if she’s ok.

ONLINE TEACHING & LEARNING BRE AKO U T RO O M S Students were still encouraged to participate in small group projects and partner work during class time. Zoom Virtual Breakout Rooms allowed for facilitated discussion and projectbased learning so students could practice communication and project management skills.

94% of Students report that they had the necessary technology tools and supplies to learn

GO O GLE DO C S To monitor students’ progress and deliver real-time feedback during classes, Teaching Fellows used shared Google Docs. Students were taught how to share and access documents in this shared platform. Teaching Fellows left comments in the documents as part of their grading and evaluation processes.

89% of Students learned new concepts during their summer with Breakthrough

TRIV IA Learning can still include fun and games! Teaching Fellows used trivia to test students’ knowledge throughout the lessons and to boost engagement with new material. Trivia was also used as icebreakers so students could get to know their Teaching Fellows and peers!

86% of Students report that they feel more prepared to learn at school this Fall

Breakthrough Houston 2019-2020 Impact Report | 5

ENRICHMENT THROUGH ELECTIVES Elective classes have traditionally been some of students’ favorite experiences at Breakthrough. This summer, Teaching Fellows got creative, teaching electives such as crafts, speech and debate, and newspaper all through an online classroom!

In the Ethnic Studies elective, students created solidarity and/or protest posters. They also learned how to craft a letter to a representative of their choice about an issue they were passionate about.

Students in the Psychology elective conducted a sleep study. They compared national stats on teens and sleep with those in the study and logged the content of their dreams to explore how dreams are related to stress or physiological brain chemistry. In the “Crafty Arts” elective, each student contributed a portion of a collage to make a complete drawing for the Virtual Celebration Event that occurred at the end of the summer. Other crafts projects included origami and graphic design.

6 | Breakthrough Houston 2019-2020 Impact Report

“The Breakthrough Gazette” was published by students in the Newsletter elective. Students covered timely topics such as the spread of COVID-19, school openings, and the differences between an in-person and virtual Breakthrough experience.

A UNIQUE SUMMER INTERNSHIP Breakthrough’s unique dual mission trains talented college and high school students for careers in education while also preparing students for competitive high school programs and college admissions. Although Teaching Fellows worked within a modified schedule and format, they adapted quickly to provide students a high-quality educational experience for the summer.

Finding Empowerment

Adapting to a New Virtual Environment Orientation and beginning of summer training, as well as all instructional coaching and classes, took place over Zoom. Teaching Fellows alternated teaching and preparation days but connected with students daily. During virtual All School Meetings and Advisory times, Teaching Fellows greeted students with smiles, fun trivia and online games, and upbeat music to get them excited and ready to learn.


of T e ach in g Fe llows are


Carlee Marquez has participated in Breakthrough Houston since she was in 6th grade. At college, she convinced many of her friends pursuing careers in education to teach for Breakthrough because of her transformative experience as a student. An aspiring doctor, Carlee initially had plans to serve as an EMT in NYC this summer. However, when her program was cancelled because of COVID-19, Carlee took her own advice and returned home to teach in her own community.

“Being able to educate my students and to reach out to parents gave me a sense of empowerment that I was looking for. Working for Breakthrough has made me rethink my future and career.” - Carlee Marquez (Swarthmore Class of 2023)




a r e t ea c hers o f color


are noned u c a t i o n m a j o rs


a r e f i rst -g en c o l l eg e st u d en t s


a r e r et u r n i n g Tea c hi n g Fel l o w s


a r e ST E M m a j o rs

in a car e e r in e ducati on af ter Breakthrough. Breakthrough Houston 2019-2020 Impact Report | 7

DAY IN THE VIRTUAL LIFE Breakthrough Teaching Fellow: Lilian (3rd Year Returning Fellow) Although this summer looked dramatically different from her first two summers with Breakthrough Houston, returning Teaching Fellow and Houston native, Lilian De La Rosa, remained committed to providing her students a high quality academic and social experience. As a rising senior at Trinity University, Lilian plans to return to Southeast Houston after graduation to teach high school where she grew up.

8:00 AM

9:30 AM

11:15 AM

12:00 PM

12:30 PM


I’m usually the first one awake in my family. After waking up, I’ll go over the lessons I’m teaching that day. I share a room with my little sister, who’s 10 years old, so I’m usually in Zoom meetings and working while she’s still sleeping.

We end each weekday with Family Time and we’ve decided to use this time to do fun things with our students. We’ve done games, Pictionary, ice breakers, even scavenger hunts - just different things to get to know each other and bond.

8 | Breakthrough Houston 2019-2020 Impact Report

On days I’m not teaching, we have department time. We’ll practice our lessons or start planning for the next week. At first I thought it would be hard to bond virtually, but it hasn’t been as awkward as I thought!

I’ll take a quick nap before I start looking at things I need to prepare for the following day. I especially always look at my classroom instructions to make sure they are clear so students know what is expected of them.

I teach Ethnic Studies for Electives - and it’s been amazing! At the end of every unit, students will do their own presentation. We’ve covered the culture and history of African-Americans, indigenous peoples, Chicanos, and Asian-Americans.

After the day, I help my mom around the house. It’s been weird to be at home all the time because I don’t have many hobbies. I’ll watch Netflix. I’ve also started learning acoustic guitar from YouTube.

COMMIT TED TO COLLEGE COMPLETION The College Bound Program begins with a solid transition into a college prep high school and provides test preparation, application support and personalized counseling. The College Completion Program continues support to ensure first generation/low income university students have the resources they need to complete a college degree.

96% of Breakthrough Houston students are enrolled in a college preparatory high school 95% of students believe they are capable of going to college after the summer with Breakthrough “This summer has been really crazy, but this opportunity when I was staying at home gave me a chance to self-reflect and think about my future. I started asking - am I really prepared for college; Am I ready to attend? So I started looking at my SAT scores, and I realized I needed to start studying and preparing. I knew this (PSAT class) was an opportunity to improve my score and get into a good college.” - Tomi Ojo 11th Grader, Bellaire HS

Average growth from PSAT class:

50+ points

100% of Breakthrough Houston’s Class of 2020 were accepted to a 4-year college

CL ASS OF 2019


enrolled in college within 1 year of high school graduation


enrolled in a 4-year college within 1 year of high school graduation

CL ASS OF 2020


total scholarships and grants awarded for college matriculation


average scholarship and grant amount awarded, per student


average need met by scholarship and grants Breakthrough Houston 2019-2020 Impact Report | 9

BUILDING COLLEGE READINESS Breakthrough Houston’s expansion has dramatically increased the number of students engaging in College Bound programming. This summer, 4 former Breakthrough students joined the “Students Teaching Students” model to become Teaching Assistants for the College 101 class. Covering college readiness topics such as goal setting, course selection, and PSAT test preparation, these Teaching Assistants are cultivating the next generation of Breakthrough Houston college bound students.


59 Seats (out of 60)


60 Hours

increase in students enrolled in College Bound programming this year

projected increase in students enrolling for the upcoming year

“I wanted to give students something that I, for one, never had access to at my school: quality SAT Prep... I had to at least attempt to teach students what I knew about excelling on this particular exam.”

“As a former Breakthrough student, I saw the direct impact teachers have made on me and knowing that I had the opportunity to do the same was what motivated me to take this internship on.”

- Collins Agyeman

Freshman, Vanderbilt University

10 | Breakthrough Houston 2019-2020 Impact Report

- Antonia Macovei

12th Grader, Lamar HS

voluntarily filled in this summer’s virtual College 101 class

of College 101 class provided for rising 10th and 11th graders over two, 2 week sessions

“I definitely became a better person because of my teaching experience. Not only was I able to help students learn, but I have also learned from teaching them.” - Linh Nguyen

Sophomore, Rice University

“Having spent the past four weeks teaching, I can say with confidence that Breakthrough Houston is the gift that keeps on giving. I have never met such wonderful mentors in any other program.” - Priscilla Solis

12th Grader, Carnegie Vanguard HS

Q&A: LIFE DURING COVID-19 Breakthrough Student: Elgen (11th Grader, Westside HS) Q: How has COVID-19 impacted you and your education? It was quite difficult to hold myself accountable during the virtual schooling because I much prefer the in-person learning due to the intimacy and chemistry it has. I had to look inside myself and make a conscious choice to try and be more invested in learning virtually. The lack of in-school learning made me less motivated to work because I couldn’t enjoy the many joys school can bring, such as friendships and extracurricular activities. Even with all the trials and tribulations that came with this shift to online learning, I believe others can succeed just as I did.

Q: What are you doing for your elective this summer? I conducted research about becoming a veterinarian. This includes how much schooling is required for the different fields of veterinary studies, as well as personal testimonies displaying their love for the profession to reinforce my own goal.

“The most enjoyable factor of Breakthrough was the fellowship with the staff and old friends. Another great thing about this program is just how much the teachers care and wish for you to succeed.”

Q: What are you doing when you are not in classes or working on homework? My brother and I decided to begin working out together which was a whole new experience. In the past, I never found myself exercising much, so when we started it was very difficult for me. However, with time and dedication it grew less difficult and actually grew to be quite enjoyable. In addition, I was given the opportunity to participate in a paid work-study. I worked with a team of peers alongside adult mentors. We did many activities, such as creating a business presentation for a local company and it even helped me learn how to create a website promoting my own personal interests. Breakthrough Houston 2019-2020 Impact Report | 11


To prepare students who possess high academic potential, but limited educational resources, for competitive high school programs and college admission. In addition, we train talented college and high school students for careers in education. O U R V ISIO N

At Breakthrough Houston, we envision a day when all children will have equitable access to quality education and teachers committed to their academic success. EVERY CHILD DESERVES THE CHANCE TO SUCCEED! STU DE N T DE M O GRAPH IC S






a re st u d ents of color

re ce iv e free or re duce d pri ce lunc h

wi l l be fi rst- gen col l ege students

do n ot sp eak Engl i sh a s t hei r pri mar y l an g u a ge a t home

l i v e i n a si n g l e p aren t hou sehol d


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