May 13, 2015

Contact: Jeff Simmons, (718) 793-2211, [email protected]

Zac Roy, 718-793-2211, [email protected]


Breakthrough New York Raises Nearly $600,000 at Annual Gala Celebrating 16 Years of Supporting Low-Income, High-Achieving Students

-Nonprofit launches College Success initiative, presents awards to NYU’s Pedro Noguera and Citi’s Maria G. Hackley-


(New York, N.Y.) – The small but growing nonprofit Breakthrough New York raised nearly $600,000 at its annual Gala celebrating 16 years of supporting low-income, high-achieving students in New York City on Tuesday, May 12th.

At the event, held at the Tribeca Rooftop, Breakthrough New York unveiled its new initiative to expand its support of students through college, and launched a new Support a Student program that recruits mentors to support its charges throughout the academic pipeline, starting in seventh grade.

Breakthrough New York is a unique educational program shepherding low-income, high-potential students from middle school to and through college. With rigorous, creative academics and unconditional support, Breakthrough encourages academic excellence by serving students and preparing future generations of teachers.

“Over the last 16 years, Breakthrough New York has helped hundreds of students who otherwise might have fallen through the cracks without the free support that we provide,” said Executive Director Rhea Wong, who this year marks her 10th year at the helm of the nonprofit. “We have evolved from a small afterschool program into one that provides a strong support system through high school, and now starting this year, all through college.”

One of the things that make this program so great is that our kids are on the edge of being successful, and all they needed was a push to experience success,” said Elizabeth Sherman, Chair of Breakthrough New York’s Board of Directors. “Breakthrough New York opens doors for them, and provides them with strong skills – and strong individuals who help them all along the way.”

Gala Chairs Niraj J. Shah and Jill Wallerstein Goldsmith welcomed the crowd of nearly 400 people. At the event, Breakthrough New York celebrated the work Dr. Pedro Noguera and Maria G. Hackley, both of whom displayed a commitment and enthusiasm to support student success.

Dr. Noguera is the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University. Ms. Hackley is a Managing Director in Citi's Global Banking Division in their Financial Institutions Group.

For the third year, Gala attendees also will were pitted against students in an engaging trivia competition, Are You Smarter Than a Breakthrough New York Student? But this year’s special College Edition competition illustrated the nonprofit’s new expansion of services to assist students through college.

Since launching in 1999, Breakthrough New York will have served 500 students and families from across New York City as of this year. At its two sites, The Town School on the Upper East Side, and Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn, Breakthrough New York has supported students once they finish 6th grade. This June, Breakthrough New York will launch at a third site, at New York Junior Tennis & Learning’s Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning in Crotona Park in the South Bronx.

Over the last five years, 100% of its students went on to specialized high schools, boarding schools and prep schools, and 100% of its students went on to four-year colleges in 2014. Each year, demand for Breakthrough New York’s services is steep; in 2015, 250 applications were received by the March 18th deadline for the 102 spots in Breakthrough’s newest class.