Breakthrough Central Texas wants to help thousands more students become first in their families to attend college

Michael Griffith, Breakthrough Central Texas executive director said the nonprofit is looking to significantly grow to help more students in the next five years.

Michael Griffith, Breakthrough Central Texas executive director said the nonprofit is looking to significantly grow to help more students in the next five years.

Image description
Growing opportunities
Image description
Breakthrough Central Texas
Image description
Breakthrough Central Texas
Data shows the gap between Central Texas low-income students and their peers in the area is growing when it comes to completing post-high school education.

According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the number of students from the 13-county Central Texas area who earned a two-year, four-year or master’s degree has increased by 20.43% over the last four years. However, economically disadvantaged students are not seeing a proportionate share of those gains.

In 2015, economically disadvantaged students made up 45.8% of all degree completions by Central Texas students, and in 2018, that number dropped to 43.73%, per the THECB.

Breakthrough Central Texas is a nonprofit organization working to close that gap and help students who want to be the first in their families to attend college.

Michael Griffith, executive director at Breakthrough Central Texas, said there is a common perception that barriers for low-income students are simply financial. In reality, they include social and emotional challenges far more complex than a simple issue of cost.

“They are facing the entire gamut,” Griffith said.

The challenges do not stop upon high school graduation. Often, Griffith said, students arrive on college campuses already feeling out of place.

“When you are in that space where you’re thinking,  ‘I’m not sure I belong here,’ then everything that happens becomes a tally of, ‘Do I belong here or do I not?,’” Griffith said.

Breakthrough Central Texas works with students from sixth grade through high school in Austin, Manor and Del Valle ISDs to break down all those non-financial barriers, and advising services continue through college. Programs start with a six-week middle school summer program and then continue through the school year, with one-on-one advising and academic services that become more tailored to certain skills as students get older.

Breakthrough Central Texas launched a campaign Sept. 12 to raise $10 million in philanthropic dollars to allow it to increase staff and build its capacity, with the goal of increasing enrollment by more than 1,000 students by 2024.

If the nonprofit reaches that goal, Central Texas will become the top area in the state in the number of low-income students earning college degrees, according to Griffith.

“It’s ambitious, but it’s also possible,” he said.


Photo of Nutty Brown Amphitheatre
Nutty Brown Amphitheatre announces Nov. 28 closure, final shows before move to Round Rock

Nutty Brown Cafe & Amphitheatre, a longtime Southwest Austin music venue, announced it will close its current location Nov. 28 before opening a new venue in Round Rock next year.

Austin, Travis County and Austin ISD officials gathered Sept. 24 to discuss local resilience planning. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin, Travis County, AISD look to build collaboration on community disaster hubs

The governments and school district are looking to grow a network of facilities that can provide resources to residents amid weather emergencies.

Screen shot of Desmar Walkes speaking at a press conference
Austin Public Health eyes possible shift to Stage 4 guidelines

Local health leaders said they want to see the current downward trend of COVID-19 hospitalizations persist before making any changes.

Kyle City Council voted 6-1 and approved the new citywide trail master plan that will utilize 2020 bond election funds for trails that will help connect Austin to San Antonio. (Courtesy Pexels)
CI Nation roundup: Perfect Game coming to Cedar Park; Kyle City Council approves trail master plan to connect Austin to San Antonio and more top stories

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Sept. 24.

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said Sept. 23 though the district has been awarded emergency funding, it has only had access to a fraction of it. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD superintendent lays out barriers to receiving emergency funding

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said while it seems that the district has received "millions and millions," it has been able to use a fraction of granted emergency funds.

Austin is one of five cities worldwide included in the company's new integration. (Benton Graham/Community Impact)
Electric scooter company Bird will now show available Capital Metro bikes in its app

Riding a scooter this weekend? Keep an eye out for Bird’s new integration with Capital Metro’s bikeshare.

Wayback Burgers specializes in cooked-to-order burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. (Courtesy Wayback Burgers)
Wayback Burgers coming to Leander; former Round Rock Steak N' Shake to become Whataburger and more top Central Texas news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

Kevin Foster, an Austin ISD board trustee, alerted the board Sept. 23 to his concern about a police response at LBJ Early College High School last week. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD trustee questions police response after hoax 911 call

After a large police response to a falsely reported school shooting last week, one member of the Austin ISD board of trustees is concerned about police scaring students.

The Dripping Springs City Council voted to approve the budget and the ad valorem tax rate Sept. 21. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Dripping Springs' FY 2021-22 budget increases about $1 million over last year

With about an 8% increase in property tax revenue and more in sales tax revenue, Dripping Springs increased its fiscal year 2021-22 budget by about $1 million over last year's.

Darin Dement, owner of Hillside Liquor, works in front of a poster of Austin's 1980s skyline. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Rapid development closes the gap between south, South Congress corridor and downtown

The 2-mile stretch of South Congress Avenue from William Cannon Drive to Slaughter Lane has changed dramatically in the last decade, with development accelerating since 2019.

The Far Out Lounge owner Pedro Corvhalo spends many days at the restaurant
with his puppy Billie. (Photos by Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Far Out Lounge: Owner of venue with history hopes to keep South Austin spirit alive

The building that now houses The Far Out Lounge has been “something” since 1908, owner Pedro Carvalho said.