Breakthrough Houston

Please visit Breakthrough Houston, formerly Summerbridge Houston, at for more information.


Breakthrough Houston (BTH) is an academic program that helps put low-income, academically talented middle-school and high-school students on the path to college while inspiring outstanding college- and high-school students to pursue careers in education. As a member of the nationally known Breakthrough Collaborative, Breakthrough Houston is hosted by Episcopal High School and St. John’s School in partnership with Houston Independent School District.

Beginning with 25 students in 1996, BTH now serves close to 230 students from Houston schools and by 2017 will serve 250 students at full capacity. Students commit themselves to Breakthrough for six years beginning in the summer prior to 7th grade. They take challenging classes in literature, writing, science, and math while gaining life skills and leadership development tools in addition to college counseling. Middle school students attend a six-week, intensive summer program and monthly School Year Program sessions on Saturdays taught by high-school and college students. High school students continue meet online and in-person on a monthly basis during the school year, while exploring their own learning opportunities during the summer.


The program has a two-fold mission. Breakthrough Houston prepares students who possess high academic potential, but limited educational resources for competitive high school programs and college admission. In addition, BTH trains and inspires talented high school and college students for careers in education.


Coming from the Greater Houston area and representing diverse backgrounds, 99% of BTH students are people of color. Although there is no typical Breakthrough student, all students share a genuine love of learning and demonstrate both dedication and educational promise. The program works with students from families with limited resources (qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch), and more than half will be the first in their families to earn college degrees.


Talented high school and college students from all over the country, Breakthrough teachers serve as role models and mentors, showing students that it is "cool to be smart." Bright, passionate, and creative, they are intrigued by learning and teaching.

Summer Teaching Fellows receive a small stipend for their eight weeks of work consisting of over 450 hours of teaching, including 50+ solo hours in the classroom. The School Year program is staffed by high school and college age teaching volunteers. Both summer Teaching Fellows and school year teaching volunteers are overseen by veteran educators called Instructional Coaches.


By 2017, Breakthrough will have completed a three-year internal expansion plan to serve
250 students annually. Additionally, in 2016 Breakthrough partnered with KIPP
to open a new Breakthrough Houston site at KIPP CONNECT, with 56 students and
12 Teaching Fellows.


Breakthrough Houston is funded thanks to the generosity of foundations, businesses, and
individuals. St. John's School, Episcopal High School, and HISD provide in-kind
space, facilities, and transportation.

To Donate Now, contact Michelle Phillips or visit