Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Breakthrough Miami

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One-line solution summary:

Building on 30 years of experience in out-of-school learning + youth development we will create an app-based content + community platform

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Pitch your solution.

As Breakthrough Miami seeks to expand to serve traditionally marginalized students across the State of Florida, we will leverage technology to create a transparent, engaging and accessible journey to post-secondary success, breaking down barriers of socio-economic and geographical inequality. Invigorating Breakthrough Miami’s evidence-based programming in an app-based platform, we will not only create a library and interactive hub for program resources such as trainings, lessons and information, but also further our commitment to community-building and Breakthrough spirit and culture by intentionally and creatively connecting our Village of Scholars, Teaching Fellows, Volunteers, Staff and partners. Aligned with our strategic plan, Breakthrough Miami will leverage thirty years of experience and expertise and the assets of technology to significantly expand our reach across the State of Florida. Our innovation has the opportunity for scaling to 24 peer affiliates of the Breakthrough Collaborative and beyond.

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What specific problem are you solving?

The opportunity gap has been defined as “the disparity in access to quality schools and resources needed for all children to be academically successful” (Schott Foundation, 2020). Traditionally marginalized youth continue to lack access to opportunities due to structural inequities. Disparities in opportunity leading to gaps in academic achievement and eventual attainment, manifest both within and beyond school walls. As the covid-19 crisis unfolds, low income and minority communities will ultimately suffer the greatest losses in many facets of life, compounding pre-existing disparities and creating new ones.

The inequitable distribution of high quality, rigorous curricula, and educational material is a major factor relating to equity in education. Access to deeper learning opportunities has been posited as the most pressing educational challenge of the 21st century (Burns, Darling-Hammond & Scott, 2019). Deeper learning involves critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and communication competencies. Disparities in access to high quality out-of-school opportunities significantly impact academic performance gaps and educational attainment. The quality and quantity of enrichment activities available to children is highly dependent on family socioeconomic status, particularly income (McCombs, Whitaker & Yoo, 2017). Without intervention, low income and minoritized students are often deprived of the chance to reach their fullest potential.

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What is your solution?

Breakthrough Miami uses a unique “students-teaching-students” model to create a rigorous, vibrant learning community, where motivated underrepresented 5th-12th grade students are supported to achieve post-secondary success and develop as emerging leaders and educational advocates. Our work is defined by persistent structural inequities and systemic racism, and addresses the experiences, rigor, access and networks that quietly but powerfully advance youth in higher income brackets ultimately resulting in disparate high school and graduation completion rates and unrealized potential. Committed to leveling the playing field, Breakthrough is closing the opportunity gap, generating social mobility, nurturing self-actualization and promoting an inclusive and engaged community.

Aligned with the goals of MIT Solve and our plan to expand our reach to serve students across our state, we seek to leverage our expertise in out-of-school learning to develop a technology-based solution to continuing to address the opportunity gap. Leveraging the assets of technology, we intend to design an app-based platform to serve as an interactive hub for Breakthrough teaching and learning resources as well as a connection point for our Scholars (5th - 12th graders), Teaching Fellows (17-24 year olds), Volunteers and partners to nurture relationships, build community, make connections, overcoming the invisible barriers students marginalized due to structural inequities are facing.

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

For thirty years, Breakthrough Miami has been positioned in our community as an Opportunity Generator. As a nationally recognized academic and social enrichment program serving under-resourced youth in Miami, Breakthrough’s 8-year tuition-free program is proven to prepare students to enter and succeed in college fueled by the efficacy of our students-teaching-students model. Breakthrough serves 1300 Scholars (grades 5-12), 130 Teaching Fellows (17-24 year olds), and 400 Volunteers (14yrs+) across six year-round sites. Recruited through a competitive application process from 100+ title one schools, Scholars meet 2+ need-based criteria associated with failure to complete college; over 85% meet three or more: Ethnic/racial minorities (96%); Qualify for free/reduced lunch (85%); First generation to attend college (52%); Single-parent household (46%); Primary language other than English (52%). Breakthrough provides year-round academic programming, leadership development, school options guidance, college access and readiness, college transition support and professional networking. A powerful antidote to the digital divide Breakthrough, has developed a robust virtual learning program this past year to raise digital competencies and empower Scholars for a technology-driven future. Our work to ensure program excellence in virtual modality was recognized with an Innovation in Distance Learning Award from the Florida Education Foundation this year.

Students who commit to our 8yr. program will graduate high school on-time (100%), enter college (94%) and complete college within six years at higher rates than their peers regardless of socio-economic status (66%). Breakthrough’s Teaching Fellowship is nationally ranked and a pipeline to a diverse national teaching force. Against a backdrop of a national teacher workforce that is 80% White, Breakthrough Miami’s Teaching Fellows, 96% of whom identify as people of color, represent the vibrant diversity of our region. Breakthrough was named best summer learning program in the country by the National Summer Learning Association (2018).

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Provide tools and opportunities for equitable access to jobs, credit, and generational wealth creation in communities of color.
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Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

Breakthrough Miami is solving the opportunity gap, ensuring traditionally marginalized students have access to the resources, rigor and mentorship to reach their potential. Our work ensures students graduate high school on-time, enter and complete college, and evolve as changemakers and leaders. Given the impact of college completion in addressing the racial wealth gap, our work is advancing a cycle of promise. Aligned with the goals of the MIT Solve community, we will increase scope, reach, impact and efficacy, engaging more students and make more breakthroughs happen. Together we will accelerate generational wealth creation for Black, Brown and low-income communities.

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Miami, FL, USA
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model.
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Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

Breakthrough Miami is currently in strategic planning stages for expansion and envisions technology to be a major component of our success model to reach more students in more communities. We have a vision framework for the development of an app-based solution and seek funding to fully develop the concept and launch.

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Lori-Ann Cox

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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology
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What makes your solution innovative?

Breakthrough Miami is a unique 8 year tuition-free academic and social enrichment program with a proven program model positively impacting youth leadership development and college completion. Development of an app-based platform to augment our programming and expand our reach and efficacy leverages our unique expertise and experience, taking our project-based learning, students-teaching-students model, wraparound advising, academic support and deep engaged community to life in a new modality.

Breakthrough Miami currently serves 1300 Scholars (5th-12th grade), 130 Teaching Fellows (17-24 year olds) and 400 Volunteers (mostly high school students). Leveraging technology-based solutions, our expansion efforts will enable us to expand to serving two additional sites in the next year with an impact of over 360 additional students annually. In the next five years we seek to expand to additional locations across the state, growing to serve over 3,500 Scholars, 500 Teaching Fellows and thousands of volunteers.

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Audiovisual Media
  • Behavioral Technology
  • Crowd Sourced Service / Social Networks
  • Software and Mobile Applications
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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Women & Girls
  • Children & Adolescents
  • Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 4. Quality Education
  • 10. Reduced Inequality
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In which states / US territories will you be operating within the next year?

  • Florida
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

Breakthrough Miami currently serves 1300 Scholars (5th-12th grade), 130 Teaching Fellows (17-24 year olds) and 400 Volunteers (mostly high school students). Leveraging technology-based solutions, our expansion efforts will enable us to expand to serving two additional sites in the next year with an impact of over 360 additional students annually. In the next five years we seek to expand to additional locations across the state, growing to serve over 3,500 Scholars, 500 Teaching Fellows and thousands of volunteers. 

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

Metrics:

●      Number of Scholars served

●      Number of learning resources available and frequency of use on app

●      Numbers of connections and interactions on the app-based platform

●      Enrollment in advanced courses

●      On-time high school graduation

●      2nd year persistence rates in college

●      6 year college graduation rates

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About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Nonprofit

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How many people work on your solution team?

20

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How long have you been working on your solution?

We have worked over the past thirty years to refine our out of school learning model. Over the past year w have ignited our organizational development and strategic planning process to expand our scope, reach and impact.

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

As an opportunity generator, Breakthrough Miami’s team are experienced educators and youth development coaches, working across six year round sites to serve students from across the count. Advancing shared vision and goals, our team leads our work to address the experiences, academic rigor, access, expectations & networks that quietly but powerfully advance whites and youth in higher income brackets, resulting in disparate high school and college completion rates, and lack of access to leadership roles across industries.

Informed by research showing affluent students reach 6th-grade with up to 6,000 more hours of out-of-school learning, Breakthrough offers an 8-year, tuition-free academic & social enrichment program. Breakthrough leverages our students-teaching-students model and our unique position as an embedded service learning partnership at independent schools, to create a transformative space where students with diverse demographic backgrounds are supported to lean in, learn and lead together. Our program leadership, site directors, Instructional coaches, and Teaching Fellows work tirelessly on the ground to provide wraparound support and services to ensure our Scholars reach their full potential.

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What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?

Uniquely positioned as a bridge across Miami's diverse communities, Breakthrough Miami is committed to a culture of inclusivity. Against the backdrop of a national education force that is 80% white, Breakthrough Miami’s staff and leadership reflects the vibrant diversity of our community with nearly 80% of our full-time staff identified as people of color, including executive leadership. Further, the demographics of our Volunteers and Teaching Fellows are a powerful demonstration of a new generation of diverse educators. Our Teaching Fellows reflect the demographics and communities of the students we serve. This commitment is supported by research which shows a positive relationship between mentor relatability (role models who are relatable and who resonate with mentees' identities) and mentees' self-efficacy. Among our 2020 Teaching Fellows, 27% were Latino, 42% were Black, and 31% spoke Spanish. Our Board of Directors is committed to diversity in terms of race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and age as well as professional backgrounds and experience. Nearly 50% of our Board are racial/ethnic minorities, including 21% Black.

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Your Business Model & Partnerships

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
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Solution Team

  • Lori-Ann Cox CEO, Breakthrough Miami
 
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