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Breakthrough New Orleans
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Established in 1990 as a direct result of well-documented poor conditions of Orleans Parish public schools, Breakthrough New Orleans (BTNOLA) continues to respond to the ongoing need for high-quality supplementary educational services for children. BTNOLA prepares high potential middle school students, with limited resources, for rigorous academic experiences in high schools and colleges while inspiring bright high school and college students to become educators and advocates for education.

Our “Students Teaching Students” model at Isidore Newman School is a tuition-free, year-round program that pairs underserved middle school students with enthusiastic young teachers. Upon acceptance, students are required to make a consecutive three-year middle school commitment, which includes an academically-rigorous full-day, six-week summer program and a school-year component. In addition to refining core academic skills, students are encouraged to explore enrichment interests, attend field trips and engage in college preparatory activities which continue throughout high school through the program’s College Readiness Initiative.

Breakthrough Collaborative was founded as Summerbridge in 1978 at University High School in San Francisco. In 1990, Isidore Newman School became the second school in the United States to host a Summerbridge program. Today, Breakthrough New Orleans (formerly Summerbridge New Orleans), a non-profit organization, is one of 32 Breakthrough Collaborative programs throughout the United States and in Hong Kong. The Breakthrough Collaborative is consistently featured as a Top Ten Internship by the Princeton Review. The organization aims for 100% of its students and alumni to enter and succeed in college-prep high schools and college, and for 80% of its teachers to express interest in pursuing careers in education. Annually the organization serves more than 2,500 middle school students and trains over 700 college and high school students to be effective teachers.


The mission of Breakthrough New Orleans is to prepare high potential middle school students, with limited resources, for academically rigorous educational experiences in high school and college while inspiring and training high school and college students to enter the field of education and become advocates for educational equity.

Our Model

Breakthrough New Orleans (BTNOLA) is a tuition-free, academic program that serves its participants by providing rigorous programming throughout the year.

As stated in the program mission, Breakthrough New Orleans serves two different populations-public middle school students living in the greater New Orleans area as well as high school and college students. Each can anticipate a rigorous but positive life changing experiences by participating in the program.

In general, BTNOLA:

  • Provides rigorous programming for 6 weeks during the summer and throughout the school year (after school and Saturdays) to enrich the skill levels of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade public school students.
  • Works with families to determine the best middle and high school placement.
  • Supports alumni students in 9th–12th grades through college counseling, SAT preparation courses, and placement in summer internships.
  • Trains and supports high school and college students as classroom teachers, mentors and event planners.
  • Promotes educational advocacy.

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Program Features

Because the program commits to working closely with students and their families throughout middle and high school, Breakthrough New Orleans provides parents who want to be involved in their children's education a way to become informed about their options, empowered to change their child's educational future, and the tools to channel that interest into action.

Young teachers are encouraged to take on a hands-on, interactive, rigorous, exploratory, creative, engaging, and personalized way of teaching.

High school and college students become classroom teachers through an intensive training program, by developing comprehensive teaching plans in conjunction with professional teachers and by committing to long hours of preparation. They are given feedback and are constantly striving for improvement. Students complete 2-3 hours of homework nightly during the summer and are required to attend the school year program to further develop their skills.

Student Teacher Dynamic
The involvement of high school and college students as teachers fosters close relationships between the students and teachers, provides role models who are themselves successful students, and infuses the program with an energy that is both creative and infectious.

Breakthrough National

BTNOLA is affiliated with a national collaborative of sites who are engaged in the same students-teaching-students model. As one of 32 sites nationwide, we work closely with our national collaborative to share ideas, recruit teachers, and coordinate fundraising.

To find out more about our national collaborative, check out the Breakthrough Collaborative's website at

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©2009 Breakthrough New Orleans
1903 Jefferson Avenue
New Orleans LA 70115
Mission Our Model Program Features Breakthrough National