Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia: Empowering Students and Inspiring Educators

Nursing as a career conversation | Nina Braum
Nursing as a career conversation | Nina Braum

Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia strives to increase educational equity and diversity in the community. With a focus on breaking down barriers created by societal constructs, such as race, economic status, and neighborhood, Breakthrough is committed to providing educational experiences for motivated and traditionally underserved middle school students.

Sakina Parks, the Program Manager, oversees the school year Saturday program and summer programs, ensuring that Breakthrough is “breaking down barriers for students who are disadvantaged when it comes to education.”

Her overarching goal for breakthrough students is to create educational opportunities that set a foundation for educational and occupational success.

Breakthrough's impact is exemplified by its impressive track record, having served 1,500 students in the Philadelphia community since 1995.

The Breakthrough students often attend one of their top three selections for high school after finishing the Breakthrough program. Parks emphasizes, “ In our opinion, all of our graduates are success stories," underlining Breakthrough's holistic view of success that empowers personal growth. 

The organization's unique approach includes recruiting high schoolers and college students as teaching fellows. The recruitment process is facilitated through a nationwide application portal managed by Breakthrough Collaborative.

Parks says, “We seek to produce teachers who have an understanding of this reality and seek to change it in the classroom.” Breakthrough Teaching Fellows have a passion for education and connect with students on a personal level.

Grayson Graham, a Breakthrough Teaching Fellow who teaches 7th-grade writing, says his personal experience at Breakthrough has been nothing short of wonderful.

He said, “I was motivated by the students and the mission of Breakthrough to join. I've found being able to be a role model and connect with students on a more personal level to be the most rewarding thing about helping Breakthrough students.”

Graham’s words highlight the impact of Breakthrough’s mission, showing how genuine connections create a rewarding educational environment for educators and students. 

Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia continues to reach more middle schoolers, with a recent record number of students on campus last summer. Breakthrough catalyzes social change and gives students a supportive environment to thrive academically and personally.

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