Breakthrough New York’s Statement on the National College Admissions Scandal and Inequality in College and High School Admissions

In the recent nationwide college admissions scandal, well-connected parents were indicted for paying large amounts of money to cheat in order to get their children into prestigious universities. In doing so, they “used their wealth to create a separate and unfair admissions process,” according to federal prosecutors.

As an organization that values integrity, hard work, and the well-earned accomplishments of our own students, we are appalled by this abuse of wealth and privilege. We are heartened, however, that those engaged in these illegal activities are being held accountable and the Justice Department has said it is committed to stopping such schemes in the future. We hope that this is a step—the first of many—to create a more level playing field in college admissions.

Every student deserves an equal opportunity to pursue and access higher education on their own merits. Unfortunately, the current system does not always work that way. There are legal ways that some families use money to create unfair advantages for their children and influence admissions decisions.

On a more widespread level, students from low-income backgrounds face barriers to success, from schools with inadequate resources in their communities, to a lack of resources like SAT prep, guidance counselors, college visits, and pre-college programs. The same challenges exist at the high school admissions level. Here in New York City, students with well-resourced families or schools receive extensive test prep for the SHSAT to help them get into the specialized high schools. (Click here to read our statement on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to diversity the specialized high schools.) 

This is why Breakthrough New York exists. We make sure our students have access to resources that are taken for granted in more affluent communities. And, we empower our students to fulfill their potential, while conducting themselves with honesty and integrity.

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The obstacles our students overcome underscore how impressive their accomplishments are. Year after year, all of our rising 9th graders get into college prep high schools and all of our high school seniors get into to excellent four-year colleges. Most importantly, our students can truly say that each and every accomplishment they earn is their own.

The college admissions scandal has sparked a much-needed national conversation about inequality. Colleges themselves are no doubt examining their own policies and practices. With our 20 years of experience in helping low-income students access college, we stand ready to help them in any way we can to ensure a fairer and more equitable system moving forward. We are also poised to work with the New York City Department of Education to ensure fairer and more equitable access to our city’s specialized high schools.

Above all, we will continue to stand proudly with our Breakthrough New York students and families, on every step of their educational journey and beyond.

Breakthrough New York Appoints Daniel Botoff to Board of Directors

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(New York, N.Y.) — New York City education nonprofit Breakthrough New York (BTNY) has announced the appointment of Daniel Botoff to its board of directors. BTNY transforms the lives of talented kids from low-income backgrounds by providing comprehensive support from middle school through college and into careers.

Mr. Botoff brings extensive experience in finance and management to the BTNY board. Since 2014 he has been the head of RBC Capital Markets’ U.S. investment-grade syndicate. Previously he worked at UBS and Citigroup in a variety of positions over the last 24 years. He graduated from Rutgers College in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Psychology. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Daniel Botoff to Breakthrough New York’s board of directors. Dan has proven his deep commitment to our mission, as a supporter and a volunteer working closely with our students. His expertise in finance will be a tremendous asset in helping us continue to grow responsibly and bring life-changing educational and career support to more students in need throughout New York City,” said Bonnie Litt, BTNY’s Board Chair.

"I am honored to join Breakthrough New York's board of directors. For years I have admired the organization's ability to help low-income students overcome barriers and achieve exceptional educational outcomes. I look forward to contributing to Breakthrough New York's continued growth and mission success,” said Mr. Botoff.

A native of Hopkinton, MA, Mr. Botoff now resides in Greenwich, CT with his family. 

BTNY was founded as Summerbridge at The Town School in Manhattan in 1999 and has since expanded in size and scope, now serving 629 students and providing a full 10 years of support for every student.  Services include rigorous summer academic programming, after-school tutoring, test prep, high school and college admissions guidance, financial advisement, internship placements, and more. 

The organization boasts a stellar track record of preparing students for college. In 2018, all of the program’s rising 9th grade students matriculated to college prep high schools and 100% of its graduating seniors matriculated to four-year colleges. In 2015, BTNY expanded services beyond high school, to help students all the way through college graduation.

With three program sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, BTNY draws students from across New York City. The organization strives to create leaders who break the cycle of poverty in their families and effect positive change in their communities. It also inspires talented young people to enter careers in education through its unique students-teaching-students model.

Demand is steep for the organization’s services. A record 476 sixth graders have applied for approximately 90 spots in BTNY’s next incoming class, which will start its 10-year journey to college graduation with summer classes in June 2019.

For the full list of BTNY’s board of directors, visit www.btny.org/our-board.

About Breakthrough New York

Breakthrough New York (BTNY) transforms the lives of talented kids from low-income backgrounds by providing educational support from middle school through college and into careers. BTNY also inspires talented young people to enter careers in education through its students-teaching-students model. The organization’s goal is to create leaders who break the cycle of poverty in their families and effect positive change in their communities. Learn more at www.btny.org. Follow BTNY on social media: Facebook – Instagram – Twitter @BreakthroughNY

 

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Breakthrough New York Response to New York City Public High School Graduation Rate

The New York City public high school graduation rate is up to an all-time high of 76%, according to new education department data. Late last year the city also announced progress in two related areas: the percent of students meeting college readiness standards increased three points to 49%, and a record 59% of graduating seniors enrolled in college, vocational or public service programs.

While the City should be commended, it’s important to consider these gains in the context of a larger goal: students’ ultimate success in college and careers. Such perspective is particularly important when thinking about students from low-income backgrounds, for whom college success—not just college admission—can help break the cycle of poverty in families and communities.

The odds that a student from a low-income background will thrive in college hinges greatly on whether the school they choose is aligned with their interests and needs, academically, personally, and financially. Since most New York City high schools have hundreds of students for each guidance counselor, it’s difficult for counselors to provide the individualized assistance that students need in order to make a well-informed college choice. With more students than ever heading to college, what better time than now for the City to invest in more guidance counselors?

In the meantime, the City’s limited progress underscores the importance of the college advising work we do at Breakthrough New York. Among the many services we provide to each of our students over 10 years is individualized guidance during the college selection process to ensure they go to a school where they will thrive.

Starting the summer before students’ senior year of high school, they meet one-on-one with our staff to determine what colleges they should consider and create target school lists—complete with “safety,” “best fit,” and “reach” schools.

Then the application process begins. Each student gets a college access mentor who helps them with every step, including personal statements, essays, interview prep, and the applications themselves. We also hold financial aid seminars for students and parents, where they fill out the FAFSA and learn how they can make their college education as affordable as possible.

Additionally, at our annual college fairs our high school students meet with representatives from many different types of colleges, and on the college visits we organize each semester they get to experience what it’s like to be on various campuses, including historically black colleges and women’s colleges.

We’re proud that 100% of our students enroll in four-year colleges, but we don’t stop there. We provide support throughout college—including monthly check-in calls with mentors and internship placements—to ensure our students graduate and are prepared to enter careers.

New York Jets Commit $160,000 to Breakthrough New York for its Work to Provide Educational Support to Low-Income Students

Donation is part of Jets’ new $800,000 commitment to combatting social inequality

(New York, N.Y.) – The New York Jets announced that the team is committing $160,000 each to Breakthrough New York (BTNY) and four other social justice organizations that aim to combat social inequality and reduce barriers to opportunity.

BTNY is a nonprofit organization that transforms the lives of talented students from low-income backgrounds with comprehensive support from middle school through college and into careers, including summer and afterschool academic programming, mentoring, test prep, and high school and college application guidance. The organization strives to create leaders who break the cycle of poverty in their families and effect positive change in their communities.

“We are honored to receive this generous donation from the New York Jets players and ownership, along with the NFL Foundation, and we applaud their commitment to combatting social inequality,” said BTNY Executive Director Beth Onofry. “Breakthrough New York is lucky to work with some of the most inspiring and dedicated students in New York City, and we are proud that their hard work is being recognized and supported by the Jets.”

BTNY boasts a stellar track record of preparing students for college. In 2018, all of the program’s rising 9th grade students matriculated to college prep high schools and 100% of its graduating seniors matriculated to four-year colleges. With three program sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, BTNY draws students from across New York City.

The organization was founded as Summerbridge at The Town School in 1999 and has since expanded in size and scope, now serving 629 students and providing a full 10 years of support for every student it serves.

The New York Jets leadership committee was formed in 2017 and includes players Kelvin Beachum, Ben Ijalana, Steve McClendon and Josh McCown. In addition to BTNY, the committee selected the The Black Alliance for Just Immigration, JustLeadershipUSA, The Legal Aid Society’s Decarceration Project, and The New York Foundling to receive a $160,000 grant, for a total investment of $800,000. Each organization focuses on education, community and police relations, criminal justice reform or other initiatives including reducing poverty, racial equality, and workforce development.

“Inadequate access to resources for education, poverty reduction or racial equality has effected every member of our locker room,” said Kelvin Beachum. “From the communities we came from, to the one we now call home–it is abundantly clear that these organizations are not only needed but are causing direct change in the fight against social inequality.”

About Breakthrough New York

Breakthrough New York (BTNY) transforms the lives of talented kids from low-income backgrounds by providing educational support from middle school through college and into careers. BTNY also inspires talented young people to enter careers in education through its students-teaching-students model. The organization’s goal is to create leaders who break the cycle of poverty in their families and effect positive change in their communities. Learn more at www.btny.org. Follow BTNY on social media: Facebook – Instagram – Twitter @BreakthroughNY

BTNY Students excel, despite the devastating effects poverty can have on educational outcomes

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More than ever, young people need the kind of programming we provide

Breakthrough New York students closely mirror the New York City public school population as a whole socioeconomically, with 79 percent of our students qualifying for free or reduced-priced lunch. Yet, despite the poverty-related challenges the students face, BTNY students excel.

The number of students living in poverty in New York City public schools is growing.

The latest Department of Education data shows city schools currently enroll 39,000 more poor students than last year, and a whopping 74 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch, a common measure of poverty levels.

One of many reasons this news is alarming is that poverty can have devastating effects on educational outcomes. According to the US Department of Education, by the end of the 4th grade, low-income students are already two years behind grade level. By the time they reach the 12th grade, they are four years behind. And, students from low-income families are five times more likely to drop out than those from families with higher incomes.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Breakthrough New York students closely mirror the New York City public school population as a whole socioeconomically, with 79 percent of our students qualifying for free or reduced-priced lunch. Yet, despite the poverty-related challenges the students face, BTNY students excel.

After our middle school summer sessions, students demonstrate up to a semester of academic growth in math and reading. In 2018, 100% of our rising 9th grade students enrolled in a high-performing high school, and 100% of our graduating high school seniors matriculated to a four-year college.

We’re able to help our students succeed by providing them with support—including rigorous academic support, test prep, and high school and college admissions guidance—that are too often only available to affluent families who attend schools with a lot of resources.

With so many New York City students living in poverty, more young people than ever need the kind of programming that we provide. By donating to Breakthrough New York, you will help us address this growing need and create more leaders who will break the cycle of poverty in their families.

Thank you for your continued support of our students!