About Us

The Mission

  • Increase academic opportunity for highly motivated, underserved students and get them into college ready to succeed; and

  • Inspire and develop the next generation of teachers and educational leaders.

Our vision is to create an empowering educational experience that results in equitable access to higher education for our students and prepares our teaching fellows for education sector roles, enabling all of our students, teaching fellows, and instructional coaches to achieve their full potential as learners, teachers, leaders, and agents of change in their communities.  

We believe that these students deserve the same opportunities as their peers, and that our country deserves to have these students well-educated and ready to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

How We Do It: Students

Breakthrough Pittsburgh begins by recruiting students in the sixth grade. Middle school is a time of great academic, social, and emotional change, and by working with students early we can guide that change in a positve direction. Once the students are in our program, we provide six years of intense academic enrichment, including a six-week summer program where students have four hours of challenging classes each day and two hours of homework each night. During the school year we offer tutoring and academic programming, as well as working with school staff to help students succeed. This additional academic workload prepares students for college-prepatory high school programs, which in turn prepare students for admittence and success at four-year colleges.

In addtion to the academic workload, we provide students with the knowledge and mindset needed to reach college. We emphasize hard work, perseverance through challenges, and growth. We cultivate a community where learning and caring about academic is cool, and where every student is ready to work hard toward their goal of attending college. We offer high-school and college guidance counseling to make sure students know all of their options and provide regular college tours so that students are reminded of why they work so hard.

How We Do It: Teachers

We recruit successful high-school and college students to teach with us during the summer program. This students-teaching-students model allows our teachers to relate to students, show them what it looks like to be successful, and make learning cool. We provide intense training, instructional coaching, and professional development for our teaching fellows in order to ensure the best academic results for our students. 

These teachers recieve close to 75 hours of lead teaching experience, and over 100 hours of teaching and leadership training. Breakthrough offers a very real glimpse into the life of a teacher in an urban setting, and nationally 55% of former teaching fellows go on to teaching careers. Even for those who don’t become teachers, Breakthrough serves to highlight the inequalities in our school systems, and as a result 76% of former teaching fellows go on to a career involving education in some way.

95% of Breakthrough Pittsburgh students go on to attend college.

Our Students

Breakthrough students are special. 

Breakthrough students, above anything else, have a passion for education. This passion drives them to succeed in school and to seek out new challenges and learning opportunities. Breakthrough students are good citizens, supporting and encouraging their peers, as well as caring about their communities. Every single Breakthrough student has the same goal: attending and graduating from a four-year college, and are willing to overcome any obstacles and setbacks to reach that goal.  

Class of 2023 demographics

  •  89% identify as students of color
  • 77% receive free or reduced lunch at school
  • 77% will be the first person in their family to attend college
  • 43% come from a single parent household
  • 37% speak English as a second language

Student Testimony

"Summerbridge has truly changed my life. I’m at one of the best high schools in the area, and I’m one step closer to going to an awesome college." - Breakthrough Student

"I will graduate from high school in 2021 and when I do, I know that I will be going to college and I know that Summerbridge will help me get there.  Thank you for giving me and my friends at Summerbridge the opportunity to attend this amazing program and to not be afraid to dream big!" - Breakthrough Student


Our Teaching Fellows

Teach. Learn. Collaborate.

Our Breakthrough teachers are committed to our mission. They believe that every child should recieve equal educational opportunities, and are willing to work hard to do their part in making that happen. They are talented, successful students in their own right, attending prestigious colleges and universities from all over the country, along with many being successful athletes, musicians, and artists. They are also willing to take on the job of being a teacher, and all that that job entails: caring for their students, being open and receptive to feedback, and being dedicated to excellence in every part of the Breakthrough experience.

Teaching Fellow Stories

"We’ve never seen an entire group of energetic college students and staff so eager to teach children so early in the morning and throughout the day and have fun doing it." - Breakthrough Parent

"I came into this summer unsure if I wanted to pursue education, but as I prepare to leave I know now more than ever that I want to spend my life teaching kids like the ones I had the privilege of teaching this summer." - Breakthrough Teaching Fellow

"What Breakthrough has instilled in me is the passion and drive to work incredibly hard in order to ensure that all students have the opportunity to receive a quality education, one that reminds them of the most important thing for a young person in this world to hear: that they matter." - Breakthrough Teaching Fellow



Our Instructional Coaches

Professional Teaching Leaders

The professional teachers who serve as Breakthrough instructional coaches provide training, coaching, and support to our teaching fellows—outstanding undergraduate students who teach in Breakthrough classrooms during the summer. Instructional coaches bring experience, knowledge, a passion for preparing the next generation of teachers, and a commitment to equity and excellence.

Instructional coaches receive intensive training and materials to support teaching fellows while they implement Breakthrough-specific teaching strategies and curricula. Coaches help teaching fellows differentiate lessons, engage students, and assess student work. Our coaches work closely with one another and Breakthrough directors to ensure all teaching fellows receive the support they need to be effective in the classroom.