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Breakthrough Cambridge Leads Field For College Access; Research Results From Root Cause

Published: 08-Feb-2011 Report Identifies 7 Top-Performing Nonprofits in Massachusetts
Root Cause, a Cambridge-based nonprofit research and consulting firm, announced today a new report on improving opportunities for at-risk students to attend college, and to succeed once they are enrolled.  Breakthrough Cambridge (BTC) was identified as one of a handful of “recommended” organizations succeeding in helping traditionally under-represented students navigate their way to college.

The report, which is modeled after business-sector equity reports, synthesizes the most current national research on college access and success programs for at-risk students, and then names 7 high-performing organizations in the Greater Boston area, including Breakthrough Cambridge.
“Our research shows that the best programs take a comprehensive approach to providing at-risk students with a sound educational foundation, an understanding of the opportunities presented by attending college, and assistance in obtaining resources to attend college,” said Social Impact Research Director Colette Stanzler. “After identifying approximately 50 organizations that work on improving college access for at-risk students in the Boston area, we found that these 7 are among the city’s highest performers.”

Breakthrough Cambridge has been a fixture in Cambridge since 1992 and remains the only tuition-free, year-round academic program for under-resourced Cambridge students.  Breakthrough is an “early intervention” college access program, recruiting nearly 10% of the district’s sixth graders and staying by their side until they matriculate at a four-year college.  Starting early means that Breakthrough has the opportunity to fill critical skills gaps and change students’ academic trajectories.  Over six years of service, BTC provides the average student with 750 additional hours of academic programming, as well as connections to tutoring, internships and other enriching opportunities, and one-on-one assistance with the college admissions process, starting early in 11th grade.

The new College Access and Success report is the latest in a series from Root Cause, funded by the Hewlett Foundation. Their Social Impact Research initiative is producing more rigorous, actionable information to help guide philanthropic investment decisions. Jacob Harold, Program Officer at Hewlett explains, "where possible, it's best to have systematic research that looks at which interventions work and which organizations use those effective interventions.”

To read the Root Cause analysis of Breakthrough Cambridge’s model and success, click here.

To read the broader Root Cause College Access and Success Social Issue Report, visit

Breakthrough Cambridge, www.breakthroughcambridge.org, inspires excitement for learning, creates paths to college, and promotes careers in education.  Over 90% of Breakthrough students attend four-year college and over 70% of Breakthrough's teachers pursue careers in education.

Root Cause, www.rootcause.org, is a nonprofit research and consulting firm that provides skills and actionable information to leaders in the nonprofit, government, and business sectors who are working to bring effective solutions to longstanding social problems.

Contact: Laurie Rothstein

September 22, 2010 

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