FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellows: Making a Difference

   (Pictured top left is Joseph, and bottom right is Gabriella)    

(Pictured top left is Joseph, and bottom right is Gabriella) 

The FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellowship Program is a two-year fellowship that fosters and supports young professionals in the social sector through retreats and an established network in Boston, New York and Philadelphia.

Our two Fellows at Breakthrough New York, Gabriella Gómez and Joseph Rosales, attended the fellowship's fall retreat in Boston, where they engaged in professional development workshops and learned more about participating non-profit organizations in the Boston area.

They cannot wait to share all that they have learned with the rest of the BTNY staff!

BTNY’s Amy Lin Honored by The Catalog for Giving

Amy Lin was honored at the The Catalog for Giving’s 20th Annual Urban Heroes Awards Benefit in October. A 16-year-old senior at The Brearley School, Amy Lin joined BTNY in 2009 and just entered her sixth year in the program.

Amy's teachers at The Brearley School, Darcy Fryer and Maggie Maluf, attended the event with Amy and are pictured with her above.

The event was held on October 7, 2014, and proceeds from the Urban Heroes Awards Benefit support The Catalog for Giving’s inspiring youth development programs throughout New York City.


This morning, the New York Times printed a story which validates everything that we do at BTNY.  Mike Bloomberg assembled a team of experts to discuss the most pressing issues in education and has decided to throw his weight behind helping low-income kids get through college.

Well, it's about time.

What we know about low-income kids is that even the most talented must struggle through a whole barrage of obstacles that will negatively affect their graduation rates.  These factors that may stand in the way between them and their diplomas have nothing to do with their intelligence, their drive or their desire to succeed.

It starts with the level of academic preparation they receive, which is woefully subpar and does not prepare them to excel in college-level work.  It continues with undermatching and not attending competitive schools that have the financial resources to support them.  It has to do with the financial burdens and cultural barriers that our students disproportionately shoulder compared to their affluent peers.  They do not inherit the networks or social capital that their more affluent peers have.

In short, they are playing with a deck that was stacked against them long before they got to college.   

We have long known that, even with motivation and intelligence, our students were fighting an uphill battle and that simply getting into college was not a guarantee of graduation.  

We have long known that our students would not be "just fine" over the long term without help and support.

We have long known that our expectations for other people's children do not match the expectations or outcomes that we have for our own.

Kudos to Bloomberg who understands that a college degree is the single most effective way for a child to end poverty in his or her family forever.


New York Junior Tennis & Learning Progresses with Construction of Cary Leeds Center – Which Will House Third BTNY Site Next Summer!

Before this academic year is over, we will be celebrating the launch of our third site. As you can see in the photo above, construction of New York Junior Tennis & Learning’s (NYJTL) new Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning is moving briskly ahead.

The Cary Leeds Center, located in the 127-acre parkland setting of Crotona Park, will offer a dynamic, new venue for Breakthrough New York’s Bronx students. Earlier classes have had to commute to The Town School for summer and after school programming. 

Constructed in partnership with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, the Center is set to open in Spring 2015 and will house a two-story, 12,000 s.f. clubhouse and an educational facility with classrooms, study centers and a library.

We will keep you posted as we move ahead!

Sponsor a Student

Every few months, Barri Waltcher receives a handwritten letter from Bronx 8th grader Lucas S. describing his academic and social awakenings.

“Sitting down and writing a letter isn’t something kids do regularly; it’s an old-school expression,” says Waltcher, a career coach from Manhattan. “I appreciate the value being conveyed by sending a thoughtful letter. I could tell this is a serious student.”

Such communication is invaluable to Waltcher, a Breakthrough New York Student Sponsor. Her annual contribution supports Lucas through six years, and is supporting his dreams to attend a great high school and a four-year college.

“I really appreciate the letters. It’s a special and unique connection that you can’t always find as a volunteer,” she says.

Introduced to BTNY by Board President Liz Sherman, Waltcher volunteered to interview students. Her daughter also served as a summer Teaching Fellow last summer. Barri then strengthened her commitment to directly support Lucas.

“Breakthrough is really effective at getting people to understand the impact of their time and dollars,” she says. “I liked the idea of having a connection with an individual, being able to see the arc of an experience, and know I’m making a difference in someone’s life.”

Lucas, who attends The Anderson School (PS 334) in Manhattan, is an only child whose parents work for JobPath NYC. BTNY, he says, gave him the extra support needed to lift up his dreams.

“I didn't have any other way to get help to get into a college prep high school,” he says, describing how BTNY has changed his demeanor. “I’ve definitely become a more confident and outgoing person.”

He envisions attending schools – like Horace Mann, High School of American Studies or Bard – en route to college and a career as a novelist.

“Breakthrough makes it easy and rewarding to be involved. There are so many opportunities,” says Waltcher. “There are many people who like to have a connection to causes that are of interest and Breakthrough does that in a such a professional way.”