Prez’s Nobel $$$ Goes to College Access

March 12, 2010

Yesterday the White House announced that President Obama will donate his Nobel Peace Prize award of $1.4 million to a handful of charitable organizations, the majority of which work on issues of College Access.

Cheers to our partner orgs!

$250,000 to Fisher House

Fisher House is a national non-profit organization that provides housing for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers.

$200,000 to the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund

In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, President Obama asked former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to create the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund to raise funds for long-term relief efforts in Haiti.

$125,000 to College Summit

College Summit is a national non-profit organization that partners with high schools to strengthen college-going culture and increase college enrollment rates, so that all students graduate from high school career and college-ready.

$125,000 to the Posse Foundation

The Posse Foundation is a national non-profit organization that identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. Posse’s college and university partners award Posse Scholars four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships. The scholars graduate at a rate of 90 percent.

$125,000 to the United Negro College Fund

The United Negro College Fund plays a critical role in enabling more than 60,000 students each year to attend college through scholarship and internship programs.

$125,000 to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) is the nation’s leading Hispanic scholarship organization, providing the Hispanic community more college scholarships and educational outreach support than any other organization in the country. In its 34 year history, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund has awarded close to $280M in scholarships to more than 90,000 students in need.

$125,000 to the Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation

A non-profit organization funded by foundations and companies, ALEF supports and enables young men and women from Appalachia to pursue higher education though scholarship and leadership curriculum.

$125,000 to the American Indian College Fund

The American Indian College Fund transforms Indian higher education by funding and creating awareness of the unique, community-based accredited Tribal Colleges and Universities, offering students access to knowledge, skills, and cultural values which enhance their communities and the country as a whole. The Fund disburses approximately 6,000 scholarships annually for American Indian students seeking to better their lives through higher education. The Fund also provides support for tribal college needs, ranging from capital support to cultural preservation curricula.

$100,000 to AfriCare

AfriCare was founded in 1970 and has more projects in Africa than any other U.S. based charity, reaching communities in 25 countries, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Its programs address needs in three principal areas: health and HIV/AIDS; food security and agriculture; and water resource development.

$100,000 to the Central Asia Institute

The Central Asia Institute promotes and supports community-based education and literacy, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The Institute’s co-founder, Greg Mortenson, was also a Nobel Peace Prize nominee this year, whose book, Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace, One School at a Time, recounts his attempt to successfully establish dozens of schools and promote girls’ education in rural Afghanistan and Pakistan.


Exciting Progress Made in the Common Core State Standards Initiative

March 10, 2010

At long last the national partnership between the the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers has produced a first proposal for a universal set of academic standards for both Math and English for our nation’s public schools. This has the potential to be a watershed moment in the world of education policy. Instead of a fragmented unequal set of standards in various states (born out of the No Child Left Behind legislation) these universal standards will move our country one step further toward ensuring a world class education for young people in this country. Check out Sam Dillon’s NYTimes article for more.

Designers of these standards highlighted several key elements that should make them successful: they say the standards are concise and vertically aligned–from grade to grade there is connectivity in content.  It’s an exciting moment of progress. A variety of educational and business groups and even the White House have all lent their immediate endorsement. Let’s see what happens to the proposal!

Amazing Article on Teacher Training in NYTimes Mag

March 3, 2010

Data Driven Teaching, Assessment Techniques, Incentive Based Teacher Pay Programs, Scaling What Works, Recruitment Strategies, Management vs. Instruction, and a new Teaching Taxonomy are all on the table in Elizabeth Green’s recent article “Building a Better Teacher,” in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. It’s a great read.

Green’s article focuses on Teacher Training guru and founder of Breakthrough partner Uncommon Schools, Doug Lemov’s journey to name and share his Teacher Taxonomy. His goal: to make a common language for his teachers to use with his students in order to raise student achievement in his network of Charter Schools.

At Breakthrough we’re excited to pilot a standardized Teacher Training model across half of our sites in Summer 2010. We know there is value in a common language and a common set of practices. As we look toward the future, we’re hoping to take part in the work that Lemov is leading.

Take a second to check out the really cool interactive videos on teaching!

What a wild ride!

March 1, 2010

Hey Breakthrough!

Wow, I guess people really do respond to deadlines…

On Thursday afternoon, there were 876 applications submitted through our online system. At the application deadline of 5:00pm PST today we had received 1932 applications. This is 167 less than the total we had at the application deadline last year. Mindblowing.

As I look out over the next few weeks, I want to send a huge burst of energy and focus to our incredible Site Directors who will be reading through application after application, interviewing candidates over the phone, in person and on Skype and generally wearing themselves to the bone in order to build the strongest team possible to lead our students in our summer academic bootcamps.  Good luck, Directors!

And, speaking of good wishes: I want to send some to our applicants. Thank you and good luck!  Thank you for committing yourselves to this application process, to the premier pre-professional teaching internship in the country and to Breakthrough’s vision:

At Breakthrough, we envision a day when all children will have equal access to excellent educational opportunities and enthusiastic teachers committed to students’ educational success.

We can’t wait to welcome the class of 2010.

Application Deadline last minute F.A.Q.s

March 1, 2010


I just looked at our blog dashboard. Incredible. While has been hovering around 1,300 views per days for the past few weeks, on Sunday we spiked to 2,972 and today at midday we’re up to 1,637. This is both great and frustrating news. It’s great because we’re able to ensure that our excellent candidates are going to be able to complete their applications by the end of the 5:oopm PST deadline. At the same time, it’s frustrating (probably more so for you than me) because it’s slowing down our log-in system. Let me explain:

Those of you who applied in 2009 recall that 1 year ago exactly there was such incredible traffic on our log in box that it automatically shut down for a few hours. Our log-in box is our portal into our teacher database. It can be used by multiple users at the same time, but there is a limit. When many, many people are trying to log-in at the same time it can take a couple of attempts to successfully log in. Thank you for your patience in this.

Two other minor updates:

  • Field Validation: In order to utilize data tracking best practices we require you to fill in all the fields on the application. More than that, we require certain types of information in some particular fields (e.g. we require zip codes to be in a 5-character format). If you do not put the correct type of information in a given field you will not be able to submit your application.
  • eRec form: The eRecommendation form does not need to be completed by March 1. It needs to be completed when the Site Director asks you to provide one. This date will be premised on your individual communication with each Site Director.

Pedro Noguera challenging the Obama Admin

February 23, 2010

Watch this video of Professor of Teaching and Learning, New York University Pedro Noguera giving a bird’s eye of the ed reform movement. Towards the end of the clip, his critique of the Obama Administration’s interest in Charter Schools doesn’t seem too convincing. Think about how much Apple has improved the technology sector after only inhabiting 5% of the personal computer market share through the mid 90s…not to dork out so bad, but innovation that can impact an enture sector may happen more effectively within smaller models. A couple of questions come to mind: Would Michelle Rhee disagree with Pedro in his dismissal of the Charter School Movement? How does smaller scale innovation (like what happens in high achieving small Charter Schools) impact larger systems, especially deeply flawed ones like our public education system? Further, how does innovation happen most effectively in the world of human development vs. technological product?

Minute Maid vying for corporate sponsorship of Breakthrough…

February 16, 2010

For grins…