Why We Serve

The Need

Despite long-term and ongoing efforts to close the opportunity gap between disadvantaged and advantaged students, low-income students continue to perform at considerably lower levels than their higher-income peers in literacy and mathematics. By age 24, 79% of students from the highest income levels graduate with a college degree compared with students from the lowest income levels. Much of that gap can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. 65% of the 9th grade achievement gap can be attributed to the “summer slide,” where low-income students experience an average two-month loss in math and reading skills over the summer while their more affluent peers, with access to out-of-school educational resources, continue to make gains. According to the Alabama Accountability Act in 2019, sixteen of the 75 schools listed as “failing” were in the Birmingham City Schools district.

The Impact

The work that we do is intentionally designed to impact the community we serve. Breakthrough students are six times more likely to graduate from a four-year college or university than students from similar economic backgrounds. On average, Breakthrough students attend college at a rate that’s eleven percent points higher than their low-income peers.* 

While students from Birmingham City Schools enter college at a rate of 54%, our first graduating Breakthrough Birmingham class (2019) immediately entered college at 64% — a full ten percentage points higher than the BCS average, and 2 percentage points higher than the state of Alabama.

We know we have work to do and we’re committed to that work because it directly impacts our students’ lives, their families, and the entire social and economic landscape of Birmingham for the better. For more information, check out our Impact Report.


*U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October, 1975 through 2015. Digest of Education Statistics (2017). Table 302.3

Keep up with Breakthrough Birmingham!