First-Generation College Students, Future Innovators, Leaders

As summer draws to a close, a new generation of students is packing up and heading off to college. Because of their hard work and support from regional programs that are part of the Breakthrough Collaborative network, these students will be the first in their families to receive a college education.

Since 2000, The Applied Materials Foundation has supported Breakthrough, a program that makes a six-year commitment to providing a path to college for low-income middle school students.

I recently visited the Breakthrough middle-schoolers during their summer program in Manor, Texas. After visiting the classrooms and seeing the students’ engagement first-hand, I am heartened at the impact this program is making and the Applied Materials Foundation commitment to making a difference. The Breakthrough programs are thriving and reaching more students than ever. 

The numbers show that low income, first generation college students are seven times less likely to attend college than their peers, regardless of abilities. Breakthrough strives to overcome these statistics by providing low income students with the tools to succeed.

As part of Applied’s commitment to developing the next generation of innovators and engaged global citizens, The Applied Materials Foundation provided seed money to establish Breakthrough in Silicon Valley in 2000 and in Austin, Texas in 2001.

Beginning in middle school, Breakthrough students commit to intensive summer academic training. Once in high school, the students receive college tours, ACT/SAT test preparation help, and general college advising services to ensure their pathway to college enrollment.  

Breakthrough Austin and Breakthrough Silicon Valley have achieved a 97 percent high school graduation rate with a 90 percent college enrollment rate. Further, 93 percent of students in both programs enroll in college preparation services each year. An independent study found that Breakthrough Austin students are 3 ½ times more likely to graduate from high school and almost two times more likely to enroll in college compared to their peers.

And, the program is growing. Both Austin and Silicon Valley programs added additional sites with Breakthrough Austin recently expanding into the Manor Independent School District near the Applied Materials Harris Branch site. Silicon Valley furthered their outreach to Franklin McKinley School District this summer.

Visit our web site for information on Applied’s Education Initiative.  

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