In 2013, Breakthrough Birmingham (BTB) was launched as a partnership between Birmingham City Schools and Breakthrough Collaborative, a nonprofit based in Oakland, CA which has affiliates in 24 cities nationwide. Founded in 1978, the Breakthrough organization has over 40 years of successful experience paving the path to four-year colleges for underserved students, increasing the preparedness of the teaching pipeline, and developing educators as instructional leaders. As the youngest Breakthrough affiliate, we are continuously improving and relying on quality Instructional Coaches and Teaching Fellows to bring new ideas and enthusiasm to the program. Since our partnership began, we have worked with over 300 scholars in Birmingham and 130 undergraduates from all over the United States.
With this spirit of innovation and creativity, Breakthrough Birmingham has partnered with leaders throughout our community to provide the most rigorous and holistic summer and after school enrichment available to Birmingham City middle school students. Birmingham City Schools (BCS), one of our primary stakeholders, and Breakthrough have a formal partnership that encourages a spirit of community and collaboration among Breakthrough staff and BCS teachers, students, and parents.
Southern culture prioritizes family and community, and at BTB we are committed to our families and our work within the Birmingham community. We also recognize the historical significance of Birmingham as home to the Civil Rights Movement, and we embrace the multi-generational and communal spirit of the Movement as we work to address inequities still pervasive in our community today.
Birmingham, Alabama — though home to many momentous landmarks in the Civil Rights Movement — continues to be a deeply divided city where students of color and students from low-income environments are consistently at an educational disadvantage to their more whiter, more affluent peers. With the significant history of Birmingham, we continue to see the need for educational equity in our city. While the country is having national discussions of race and equality, Birminghamians are continuously reminded of the fight that took place here more than a half-century ago. Though laws have changed, the climate in Birmingham is still reeling from discussions of segregation and the subsequent achievement and opportunity gap. The people of Birmingham are working together to meet these challenges, and BTB is situated as one of the leading innovators in education, and we intentionally collaborate with other leading education pioneers in the city.
For students in Birmingham, becoming one of our Breakthrough scholars is a competitive process. As we work with our scholars, a goal of ours is to create an environment where there is no longer a need for an organization working to reverse educational inequities.
With that vision in mind, BTB is looking ahead to how we can integrate our program even more effectively into the Birmingham City School system. This includes intentional collaboration, including communication around student needs, with key stakeholders, such as classroom educators. Together with our educators and families, we are working to provide a holistic learning support system for all of our scholars.
Working with school administration, teachers, and families throughout the city is a serious undertaking. We at Breakthrough Birmingham are grateful for the partnerships we have developed since the start of our program. These partnerships have enabled us to develop our impact on several facets of students’ lives.