Senior America Lopez teaches her seventh-grade English literature class.

Board terminates SCDS Breakthrough program for low-income students after 23 years

On Aug. 11, Kelley Taber, president of the Board of Trustees, sent an e-mail to the SCDS community announcing the termination of financial support for Breakthrough Sacramento, a program that provides year-round, tuition-free college preparation for academically motivated students from under-resourced schools.

Breakthrough has been partnered with SCDS for 23 years.

In her letter, Taber said that after many years of attempting to make Breakthrough financially independent of the school through seeking donations and grants, it has come to a point where the annual deficit is too much for SCDS to take on without increasing school tuition.

Taber attributed Breakthrough’s inability to become independent to the decline of stable, outside financial support in the 1990’s and 2000’s.

Taber ends her e-mail thanking all Breakthrough donors, administrators and teachers, including executive director Adolfo Mercado and program coordinator Ying Lo-Khang.

Taber also announced that the school will begin to offer two full high-school scholarships for each grade to low-income students, and that current Breakthrough alumni in the high school will continue to have full financial support.

“The Board remains firmly committed to supporting diversity and opportunity at SCDS,” she said in the e-mail.

Junior Esme Bruce-Romo, a Breakthrough graduate and a recipient of a scholarship to attend SCDS, said that she is sad for future students who won’t benefit from the program.

“Breakthrough has given me so many opportunities,” Bruce-Romo said. “When I was in middle school, I loved going to Breakthrough every morning because it was so fun, and it motivated me to explore more educational options, like applying to go to Country Day for high school.

“I was so fortunate to have had that experience.”

A few hours before Taber’s e-mail was sent, Mercado sent Breakthrough donors an e-mail thanking them  for the help the program has received and said that Breakthrough alumni will continue to accomplish great things.

I truly appreciate your support of opening opportunities for all members of our community,” Mercado said. “This year we had our first admit to MIT! Our alumni will continue to be solid ambassadors for the program that you have supported so generously.”

Mercado also announced that his last day of employment will be Friday, Aug. 19, and that he has no plans for the future at this time.

“This summer’s theme was “Go For Your Goals,” and I look forward to defining what my next goal will be after this summer is completed,” Mercado said.

SCDS has donated $2.1 million to the program since it began, Taber said.

Since 1994, Breakthrough Sacramento, originally known as Summerbridge, has taught 552 students and employed 567 teachers.

More news to follow

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