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Big News for Breakthrough

Announcing our Partnership with Santa Clara University

Just down the road from our headquarters lies a world-class university with a socially conscious mission – Santa Clara University. Breakthrough Silicon Valley is pleased to announce an innovative partnership with this 165-year-old institution.


For the first time ever, SCU will host Breakthrough’s 2016 summer program for 110 middle school students, allowing us the exciting opportunity to operate on a college campus. For kids who face tremendous obstacles every day, this means the chance for big dreams – college dreams – to take root. And as they build academic skills amidst the picturesque palm trees and iconic red tile roofs, students will begin to visualize how one day those dreams will come true.


SCU’s deep commitment to the local community and making the world a better place make the university a natural partner for Breakthrough. The collaboration is multi-faceted and far-reaching. Here are a few more highlights of this great partnership:

  • Sponsorship comes from the University’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion.
  • Breakthrough will offer its services to seventh graders who have previously benefited from the services provided by SCU’s Thriving Neighbors Initiative at Washington Elementary School.  This partnership ensures that these students continue to have academic support and college guidance from seventh grade through college enrollment. Together, Breakthrough and SCU can provide a real pathway to college for students in the Greater Washington neighborhood.
  • SCU Liberal Studies students will participate in an eight-week internship at Breakthrough this fall. While they earn course credit at SCU, they will teach in our after-school program and gain real-world experiences – ultimately preparing them as educational leaders and change-makers.
  • Breakthrough will provide face-to-face community-based learning opportunities for SCU students as part of the University’s Arrupe Weekly Engagement program.

The university’s recent announcement that it has convened a Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, further highlights and cements the intersection between our goals in this important area.


Breakthrough Silicon Valley's Executive Director, Melissa Johns, says, “We are thrilled that Santa Clara University recognizes the positive outcomes we can achieve together to lift up our local community and shape the next generation of Silicon Valley leaders. We look forward to working together in this exciting endeavor.”


We invite you to read on and enjoy three personal stories that bring to life the deepening connection between Santa Clara University and Breakthrough Silicon Valley.


Jenna Morgan

Jenna Morgan - Aspiring Educator

SCU Class of 2016

“Piggy’s death – that’s like the death of order on the island.” The revelation came out of nowhere. Simple but profound. For Santa Clara University senior Jenna Morgan, it was a moment that cemented her dreams for the future.


Jenna was teaching Lord of the Flies to eighth grade students as a Breakthrough Silicon Valley summer teaching fellow. It was weeks in and she was disheartened. Her students didn’t seem to be getting the larger concepts. That’s when the breakthrough happened – one student’s “aha” moment that changed everything. The room was quiet. Then, one by one, more ideas began to bubble up – each teen’s comments fueling the collective awakening. As she watched the scene unfold, Jenna knew she wanted a career in education.


With its diversity of ideas and connection to the urban landscape just beyond its walls, Santa Clara University has offered a wealth of opportunities and Jenna has thrived. She will graduate in June with a degree in English and a minor in Urban Education from the Liberal Studies department. She has been accepted to the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) where she will earn a master’s degree and teaching credential in high school English. Outside of school, Jenna serves as Breakthrough’s Academic Support Intern, ensuring that tutoring sessions are beneficial for students.


Jenna sees many connections between Breakthrough and Santa Clara University. Each has fueled her dream to make a difference. Jenna knows first-hand that great teaching matters. And she’s ready to make breakthroughs happen in her own classroom, each and every day.


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Edson Cardona - Breakthrough Silicon Valley Alumnus

SCU Class of 2017

Choosing a college, Edson Cardona had two things on his mind: soccer and family. As a talented player, he was recruited by university soccer teams large and small. And as a Breakthrough student, he knew one of them was just walking distance away – Santa Clara University. More than anything, Edson wanted to give his parents the chance to enjoy his games in person – but he also wanted a top-notch education. In both ways, SCU stood out.


Long before he was born, Edson’s parents fled El Salvador as refugees of that country’s devastating civil war. An unfortunate lesson of the conflict was that standing out could mean losing everything. Watching his games at Santa Clara has shown them something different – that standing out can mean flourishing.


On top of soccer, Santa Clara University has offered engaging classes and strong connections with professors. After graduation, he hopes to play for a Major League Soccer team, but he’s looking beyond that, too. As a Business Management major, he will graduate with the skills to manage a team or an athletic apparel business.


This spring, Edson connected his college success with an earlier version of himself. As part of an SCU business class, he was challenged to design a project for a non-profit. Breakthrough was the obvious choice. He remembered facing the unknown as a first-generation college student and the way Breakthrough offered support. That’s how the project took root as a college transition workshop for Breakthrough seniors and their parents.


When asked about his own transition to college, Edson reflects that Breakthrough always pushed him to challenge himself and do his best. He was ready to juggle the demands of college, both in the classroom and on the field.


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Kevin Breschini - Breakthrough Silicon Valley Alumnus

SCU Class of 2019

Growing up in San Jose, Breakthrough and Bellarmine alumnus, Kevin Breschini always imagined he’d end up farther away for college than Santa Clara University. When it came time to evaluate his options, he was surprised to find it high on his list. SCU is an outstanding school for business, his intended major. And comparing financial aid packages as a first-generation college student, it came out ahead. Wrapping up a successful first year, Kevin reflects that Santa Clara just feels right. “It’s like another Bellarmine.”


Kevin remembers his years at Breakthrough fondly. He admits he was skeptical in the beginning though. “Summer school was not something I wanted to do.” His perspective changed as he entered Bellarmine. Middle school hadn’t been challenging. High school was. The hard work invested at Breakthrough really paid off. And through all of it, Breakthrough staff was by his side, applauding each success and encouraging him to push further. “They are my friends – a big family,” he says with pride.


Kevin’s own breakthrough happened as a Breakthrough summer teaching fellow. On top of teaching, he was offered a lead role in planning the culminating celebration. The experience was both challenging and empowering. He says Breakthrough prepared him to be a leader – eventually as Editor-in-Chief of Bellarmine’s student newspaper.


Kevin looks ahead with enthusiasm. Work at a start-up or maybe even entrepreneurship – whatever the future holds, he knows it will be rewarding. “Silicon Valley is a great place for business,” he says. And on top of that, it’s home.




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