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Community Based Learning Organizational Profile

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Cheveon Tan

29 September 2017

ELSJ 22

Professor Robinson-Bertoni

Community Based Learning Organizational Profile

Going into this class, I already knew that we would have to participate in Community-based Learning (CBL) in a placement of our own choosing. After hours of looking through the Arrupe weekly engagement opportunities, and finding out information about those partners, I decided on Breakthrough Silicon Valley. I chose Breakthrough Silicon Valley as their values are in line with mine, helping underprivileged kids getting into colleges.

Breakthrough Silicon Valley’s mission is to help underprivileged kids prepare for success in demanding college-preparatory high school programs, and to help them get accepted into four year colleges. Besides helping underprivileged kids, they also prepare remarkable high school and college students into launching their careers in education. Breakthrough Silicon Valley was established in 2002 to address the widening opportunity gap in San Jose. It began as a two-year middle school program serving 25 students from one school, and has since expanded to a six-year comprehensive program that helps over 500 students. Their aim is to reach 600 students by the year 2018. Breakthrough is a private non-profit organization that has been funded their founding sponsor, Applied Materials, as well as several large corporations, such as Sharks Foundation, Texas Instruments, The Campbell Foundation, Google, and many others. They have a total of 13 staff working at Breakthrough, managing different aspects of the organization.

Breakthrough is trying to reach out to students who come from low-income backgrounds, attend schools that are under-resourced, or the first to attend colleges in their families. They believe that every student deserves the chance to maximize their potential. Breakthrough is aware that they are multiple problems plaguing the students, such as high school students who are in high-poverty communities often do not graduate with the UC/CSU’s conditions. This is due to a lack of support and guidance on their behalf. Additionally, students who are the first to go to college in their families don’t have the support they need to navigate college and financial aid applications. Around 80% of Breakthrough students are the first generation in their family to attend college and qualify for reduced or free lunch at school. Around 60% of Breakthrough students live in a gang-impacted neighborhood, and English is not their first language.

Overall, the organizational culture seems to be supportive of students and wanting them to succeed. This is evident through the six-years comprehensive program that Breakthrough has. They are also creative, bringing on high schoolers, as well as college students to teach these Breakthrough students when there is a lack of teachers. They go through an intensive hands-on summer and after-school teaching experience before being experienced enough to teach these Breakthrough students. When I first walked into Breakthrough, the staff seemed really happy to be there, and they were really enthusiastic about what they were doing. They talk about their students with joy, and seemed very supportive of them. They want to make a difference, and are serving as role models to their Breakthrough students. The power is equally distributed to both tutors and students, and each of them brings their own experience onto the table. The organization lets us have free reign over how we teach, but told us some tips to help make our tutoring sessions better. I love that Breakthrough lets tutors run the tutoring session the way we want it, and the students can put in their input as well. I could see the impact the Breakthrough has on its students. Everyone of their students go on to attending colleges and 4-year universities, and 88% of their high school students have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. There was a reason why I chose Breakthrough, which is mainly to tutor. However, after attending the orientation that Breakthrough organized, I am excited to meet my tutees, being supportive of them and helping them grow as a person.

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