Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano Strategic Plan 2017

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Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano supports local motivated students whose backgrounds are underrepresented in higher education by providing tuition-free academic programming and guidance from middle school through college graduation.

WHO WE ARE OUR PHILOSOPHY At Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano, we believe in the power of education to radically change the lives of young people and end the cycle of poverty in families. We believe that the middle and high school years are a critical crossroads where students make choices that dramatically affect their futures, while the college years are the time when students solidify their identity and prepare for the rest of their lives. We are passionate in our belief that every child deserves access to an excellent education, the encouragement to succeed, and an inclusive environment. In return, we demand hard work, embrace new challenges, and celebrate excellence. Our program cultivates leaders who will become advocates for educational equity. We strategically generate a volunteer base of summer teaching fellows, school-year tutors, mentors, advisors, and donors who firmly believe in our students’ potential. Teaching fellows and tutors are college and high school students who serve as role models for our Breakthrough students and will become advocates for equity in the future. Mentors, advisors, and donors are community supporters who generously commit resources to ensuring our students can realize their capacity to succeed in school and graduate from college. We aim to develop cultural competency in our community. For our students, this means developing the mindset and tools to establish a positive self-identity, advocate for themselves, and succeed in new environments. For our greater community of volunteers and supporters, this means providing experiences and developing skills that equip them to effectively engage with our students across cultures, perspectives, and backgrounds.

OUR STUDENTS Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano students are academically motivated middle and high school students who are committed to success, on the path to a four-year college, and demonstrate need for the program. They make a six year commitment to Breakthrough, with the end goal being college graduation. Research indicates that students who identify with certain demographic characteristics are underrepresented in higher education and require additional support on the path to and through college. Breakthrough SJC students demonstrate need for the program in one or more ways.


are the first in their families to attend college


identify as a student of color


qualify for free or reduced lunch


English is not the primary language at home




(national average: 25%)


“My commitment to education changed on my first day at Breakthrough. [Their] encouragement throughout the summers and school years made me believe that I could build a future for myself and I shouldn’t settle for less... ” – ARIANNA V., CLASS OF 2017 AND FRESHMAN AT UCI


During the 2016-2017 school year, we dedicated time and resources to assess our program and better understand our strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth. Our aim was to listen to our stakeholders, so that we could best understand their needs. We conducted surveys of students, parents, and alumni; meetings with school administrators and teachers, school district leaders, and community organizations; and conversations with our Community Advisors, Breakthrough Angels, and St. Margaret’s Management Team. We believe that now is the right time to look ahead to the future. We want to build on our foundation from the past twelve years and increase the impact we have on students, families, and the community.

PRIORITY I SUPPORT STUDENTS THROUGH COLLEGE GRADUATION WHY? When a student joins Breakthrough, we make a promise that they will graduate from college and end the cycle of poverty for their family. By ensuring that students graduate from college, we will fulfill that promise. GOALS

Breakthrough SJC students will graduate from a four-year college or university.


• Define best practices for guiding high school students directly to a four-year school. • Guide students to attend the college that best fits their academic ability, financial needs, and future interests. • Define best practices for guiding students to transfer from a two-year school to a four-year school. • Set yearly goals for college graduation based on current data. • Develop a data-tracking system to follow Breakthrough college students once they leave the high school program.

Develop relationships with colleges to increase admission rates and ensure students are supported once they matriculate.

• Develop a database for tracking colleges, admission rates, and support systems for students from underrepresented backgrounds. • Develop personal relationships with college admissions personnel. • Prioritize colleges for developing relationships and guiding students to apply.

Breakthrough SJC college students will remain actively engaged with the Breakthrough program.

• Define active engagement. • Determine the most effective ways to keep college students engaged. • Connect Breakthrough SJC college students to all Breakthrough Collaborative college students, tapping into the greater network that exists throughout the country. • Work with Breakthrough Collaborative staff to connect college students with each other. • Set yearly goals for the number of college students who are actively engaged.

Develop an alumni network. Note: we will define “alumni” as Breakthrough students who have graduated from college.

• Connect Breakthrough SJC alumni to each other. • Begin gathering data on post-graduation outcomes. • Utilize the College Mentor Program as a way for alumni to serve as mentors for high school seniors. • Develop a system for Breakthrough alumni to support current students in college, especially those at the same college.

PRIORITY II SERVE MORE STUDENTS WHY? There is unmet demand for Breakthrough SJC and the services that we provide. When talking with faculty at our partner schools, we consistently heard the same message: there are many more students who would be great for Breakthrough. When talking with community members and families, we heard another important message: there are students at other local schools who need Breakthrough and would be eager to make the commitment. GOALS


Serve all students at Marco Forster Middle School who meet Breakthrough SJC standards for motivation and need.

• Assess the student population at Marco Forster Middle School to determine how many total students would fit the Breakthrough model.

Explore new schools where Breakthrough SJC could serve students.

• Coordinate with CUSD supporters—board members, administrators, teachers—to determine the next one or two schools that could most benefit from Breakthrough’s services.

• Grow the program at Marco Forster gradually, starting with growth that does not require significant resource additions, then scaling up with additional resources. • Re-shape the program model to support an increased number of students.

• Develop relationships with key influencers at potential future schools. • Gauge interest from students and families at potential future schools. • Determine the cost of scaling up at this level. • At current CUSD high schools—San Juan Hills HS, Capistrano Valley HS, and Dana Hills HS—explore ways to add a small number of highly motivated students, and explore other ways to partner with the schools.

PRIORITY III CREATE INSTITUTIONAL SUSTAINABILITY WHY? We aim to operate as an institutionally sustainable program. The goals below are designed to build on that momentum and secure our footing for the long-term future. GOALS


Create financial sustainability for the short- and long-term future of the program.

• Continue annual appeals to maintain individual giving. • Maintain foundation gifts at the current level, if not higher (approximately $85,000 in 2016-2017). • Raise donations in excess of expenditures each year. • Maintain two years of immediately available general reserve funds at all times. • Seek to develop a $6 million endowment by 2022, to provide long-term financial sustainability. • Following the end of each fiscal year, transfer all general reserve funds in excess of two years of future operations into the Breakthrough endowment fund. • All Breakthrough funds shall be invested in accordance with the St. Margaret’s Board of Trustees investment policy.

Develop a staffing plan that accounts for finances, the current programming model, future endeavors, and the end of the AmeriCorps VISTA grant.

• Create a “responsibilities-hours needed” plan that reflects responsibilities, and update it regularly. • Explore cost-free or low-cost volunteer opportunities—e.g. AmeriCorps VISTA (new grant), UCI School of Social Ecology field study interns, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, etc. • Develop a volunteer plan to account for responsibilities and hours needed. • Develop a long-term plan for adding staff—e.g. fundraising for operations needs to cover added fixed costs.

Continue developing Breakthrough SJC’s brand in the local community.

• Maintain and deepen current relationships with Capistrano Unified School District, San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce, and San Juan Capistrano City Council. • Maintain consistent presence at city events. • Develop a relationship with neighboring school districts and city councils. • Determine the best approach to partnering with Breakthrough Collaborative, especially as related to brand. • Raise visibility at local universities (University of California, Irvine, Chapman University, California State University, Fullerton, etc.) by capitalizing on opportunities for partnership.


OUR COMMUNITY OUR TEACHERS Breakthrough SJC utilizes a “students teaching students” model to improve academic outcomes. Our network of volunteer teachers ensures that the teacher-to-student ratio remains small and that our Breakthrough students get the very best academic support. Additionally, we believe that when college and high school students work with our Breakthrough students, they gain an experience that sticks with them for life. The experience of working with Breakthrough students will lead our teachers to become future advocates for educational equity. OUR SUPPORTERS Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano is a community program. We aim to meet an important need in the community, and we work with others who are also passionate about our mission. Supporters include individual community members, community organizations, foundations, Capistrano Unified School District, and St. Margaret’s Episcopal School. St. Margaret’s Episcopal School is the presenting sponsor of Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano. Since 2006, St. Margaret’s has hosted and supported Breakthrough as part of its commitment to learning, leadership and service.



Four Years of 16,000+ Hours AMERICORPS VISTAS WITH


Walking in the San Juan Capistrano Fiesta Association Annual Swallows Day Parade

Service projects at Doheny State Beach and South County Outreach

Community outreach at San Juan Summer Nites Concert Series and Tree Lighting Ceremony

Presenting to the Dana Point City Council, San Juan Capistrano City Council, and Capistrano Unified School District Board

Speaking at the San Juan Capistrano Rotary Club

Participating in “I Heart OC” and “Giving Tuesday”



FELLOWS SINCE 2006 *Since 2006 †Since 2012

“I have been blown away by the hard work and dedication of these students. The students at Breakthrough are incredibly passionate about their goals and dreams. They have shown vulnerability and bravery that will continue to shape their futures.” – NICOLA T., 2017 TEACHING FELLOW, MERCER UNIVERSITY


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