Volunteering with Breakthrough Austin

When the group of 6th grade kids before me said they wanted to be pediatricians, engineers, and veterinarians, I knew something was going right. These fledgling, sciency people were just beginning a program that would help them achieve those goals.  

The program runners, Breakthrough Austin, have a mission to help low-income students in Central Texas find their way through the second half of their school career to become a first-generation college grad. I spent two afternoons seeing the results of Breakthrough’s summer course in presentations from two different groups of students. As a product of Central Texas public education, I was interested to find out what they do.


Central Texas has a staggering number of low-income kids not graduating from college or even high school. Beginning in the early Aughts, Breakthrough has already seen success in their first groups, and they take the summer as an opportunity to continue these kids’ education.

 I served as a volunteer with 20+ others to see the students present their work. First, a group of high school Juniors spent the summer tasked with doing something productive, then reflect on that experience. It was great to hear about a young woman overcome her shyness to step up as a leader. Or, after working with his father, a young man was able to break a stilted relationship. 

I returned another day to see presentations from a small class of middle schoolers. A group of 6th graders showed off what they’d been working on with their teachers. They began timidly reading works they’d written or explaining exchange rates of various countries. Then, they opened up and wanted to present all of the projects they’d completed. We listened to poetry and watched marbles race down a roller coaster of paper towel rolls and cardboard boxes. 

One girl knew more about kinetic energy and velocity than I do. One boy told us about his love of chess and growing eggplants. They were proud of their work and wanted to share it.

With the help of Breakthrough Austin, they all have the potential to reach their goals. I had a wonderful experience, and will be sure to help out again. 

If you’re interested in learning more about Breakthrough, they’re at http://www.breakthroughaustin.org/[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Briana Loeb