Our Local History

Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia provides disadvantaged students from Philadelphia’s under-resourced schools with the education and supports they need to access higher education.  Founded in 1995 as Summerbridge, Breakthrough Philly is part of the national Breakthrough Collaborative that includes 33 sites in 26 US cities.  Breakthrough’s ‘Students Teaching Students’ model distinguishes it from other enrichment programs.  Each year, we recruit and train outstanding college students from top schools across the country to serve as teachers in our program. Breakthrough’s summer teaching residency is highly competitive and has been ranked by the Princeton Review as a top ten internship along with the White House, Supreme Court, Google, and MTV.  

Breakthrough has grown significantly since its first class of 30 students and its single partnership with Germantown Friends School.  In 2000, Breakthrough opened a second site at Saint Joseph’s University nearly doubling the number of students served and reaching the West Philadelphia and Camden communities.  In 2005, Breakthrough expanded from a two-year to a six-year program that serves students across high school. In 2011, Breakthrough formed a partnership with Drexel University, which will host and financially support our six-week College Bound Program for Breakthrough's rising 9th graders.   In 2013, the site at St. Joseph's University was relocated to Drexel University to join the College Bound Program site.

In 2015, Breakthrough expanded to include an additional high school summer site, providing a summer intensive college application readiness and preparation program to rising high school seniors, and in 2016 Breakthrough began offering an additional program for rising college freshman in the successful transition to attending a four-year college.

Working with approximately 30 charter and public schools in the School District of Philadelphia, Breakthrough recruits 60-65 new sixth grade students each year and serves approximately 300 students annually.


Our National History

Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia is modeled after the highly successful program foundedas Summerbridge by Louis Loufburrow in 1978 in San Francisco, CA.  Now called Breakthrough Collaborative, over the past three decades, the organization has changed the trajectories of more than 10,000 disadvantaged students and inspired 4,000 young people to pursue a career in education.    Expanding dramatically since its inception, the Breakthrough Collaborative now includes 33 sites in 26 US cities and in Hong Kong. 

The Breakthrough Collaborative is a recipient of the 2006 Klingenstein Leadership Award from the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University, the 2007 Excellence in Summer Learning Award from the Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University, the 2009 Excellence in Education Award from Senator Barbara Boxer, and the 2010 Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation.

Learn more about the Breakthrough Collaborative