Moody Grant Recipient: Breakthrough Central Texas


Moody Grant Recipient: Breakthrough Central Texas

With the Moody Foundation’s support, Breakthrough Central Texas is creating a path to and through college for over 3,000 students in 2023.
By: Michael Griffith, Executive Director, Breakthrough Central Texas  | June 9, 2023

How did you use the Moody Foundation grant?

Breakthrough’s Schoolwide Postsecondary Advising Program (PSAP) at Manor New Tech High School has been thriving since the Moody Foundation’s 2022 grant enabled us to expand the program. We have seen increased engagement from students, faculty and administrators because of this support.

Achievement unlocked – the Class of 2022 celebrates their hard work, dedication and perseverance as they embark on a new chapter in their lives.

At present, we serve 295 seniors and juniors from the classes of 2023 and 2024, while our first class of PSAP seniors who graduated in 2022 had 99 students (82%) accessing Breakthrough’s support for six years after high school through our College and Career Success program. When fully developed, our PSAP program at Manor New Tech High School will assist almost 750 students annually (11th grade through college) in achieving their post-secondary goals at this location alone.

During the grant term, our organization carried out several key activities to support students in their postsecondary goals. We provided ongoing advising and mentorship to juniors and students through one-on-one advising sessions. We also offered family counseling sessions on financing college and the admissions process to ensure that families have access to resources and information.

In addition, we provided intensive postsecondary application support, including workshops, family education sessions, and individual application guidance to prepare students for their college applications. Special events, such as a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Trivia event on campus during lunch in honor of Black History Month, were also held to create a positive and inclusive environment for our students.

These graduates are just a few of the many success stories of the organization’s 12-year program that provides Central Texas students with educational opportunities, resources, and support.

We continuously evaluated the program’s effectiveness and carried out internal evaluations to refine and improve the program. Finally, we conducted interviews with potential partners for our second PSAP site to expand our services to more students.

We are excited to report that our efforts have resulted in 90% of seniors completing financial aid applications, totaling over 180 applications submitted. Among the graduating seniors, 82% chose to enroll in postsecondary education and opted into our College and Career Success Program. Our advisors will continue to provide year-round support, assisting students in their postsecondary plans and equipping them with the necessary resources, network, credentials and training for success in their chosen career.

What is the number of individuals assisted by your organization on a monthly/yearly basis, and do you have any volunteers?

In 2023, Breakthrough will serve over 3,000 middle school, high school and college students. Each spring, Breakthrough recruits nearly 300 students in 6th grade from Austin ISD, Del Valle ISD and Manor ISD to join our 12-Year Experience Program. Breakthrough works with students beginning in sixth grade until college graduation, providing guidance, extracurricular activities and leadership development programs. Volunteers can become academic mentors, offering one-on-one tutoring to students, or writing coaches who review college application essays in nearby school districts.

What challenges do you face in providing services to the population you serve?

Despite the combined efforts of schools and providers, less than a quarter of all students in Central Texas attain a college degree or certificate by age 24. Even fewer of our region’s low-income students and students of color are benefiting from the life-changing power of postsecondary education.

Unlocking potential through mentorship and support – volunteers offer their time to guide and encourage a student, creating a positive impact on a student’s academic and personal growth.

In Manor ISD, where our PSAP program has launched, 74% of all students are economically disadvantaged, and only 46% of graduating seniors enrolled in a Texas institute of higher education (TEA).

Schools like those in Manor that serve significant populations of low-income students are under-resourced to provide high quality and culturally competent college access services to all students which negatively impacts student outcomes. Added to these issues, schools and students are rebounding from the devastating impacts of the pandemic. To help address this need, Breakthrough established the Student Support Fund, funds from our operations specifically designated toward helping families with their basic needs, so that students can continue to focus on their educational paths without having to worry about these things.

How does your mission benefit the community it serves through its mission?

All children should have the opportunity to benefit from the life-changing power of a college degree, as educational opportunities beyond high school afford a greater ability to achieve economic mobility and build a life of one’s own choosing.

Empowering the next generation through personalized learning with the help of dedicated volunteers who offer one-on-one support and guidance, helping students thrive.

However, too often, a student’s circumstances of birth – race, ethnicity, family’s income level or immigration status – predicts the educational opportunities they will be afforded.

Only 1 in 4 Central Texas high school graduates go on to earn a college degree or certificate. For students from low-income communities, that number drops to just 1 in 8. To combat this inequity, Breakthrough makes a 12-year commitment to students and their families to guide them through the process of preparing for, enrolling in and completing college. The long-term model ensures the success of students and families from middle school to high school graduation to college diploma and beyond.

Breakthrough students graduate college at twice the rate of their peers. To date, nearly 300 Breakthrough students are living their dream as the first in their family to earn a college degree.