On Aug. 22, the Board of Trustees and a group of Breakthrough supporters met and agreed that Breakthrough could renew its connection with the SCDS community and be hosted on campus during the summer.
But there’s a catch. First, Breakthrough needs to achieve financial independence.
On Sept. 1, Kelley Taber, president of the Board of Trustees, wrote a letter confirming the collaboration between the Board and that group of supporters.
It includes Toran Brown, ’82, (former president of the Board of Trustees); Pat Talamantes (father of former Breakthrough teacher Patrick, ‘14, and Breakthrough volunteer Austin); Jamie Nelson (former member of the Summerbridge Advisory Board and former president of the Board of Trustees); Laura Steele Monahan (former director of Breakthrough and current middle-school teacher); Jennifer Lopez, ‘04 (former Breakthrough teacher and student); Michael Covey (former Breakthrough mentor teacher); and Sue Nellis (former Breakthrough mentor teacher).
Taber said that SCDS representatives will continue to meet with the leaders to give more details on fundraising and Breakthrough management.
Control of the Breakthrough website, brochures and contacts will be handed over to the group, according to Taber.
The group first came together on Aug. 15 after writing a petition and a letter to the Board of Trustees, and sending it to the SCDS community.
“Now that the Board members we spoke with have agreed that this effort is worth pursuing, we will have to take all the steps necessary to create a ‘new’ Breakthrough Sacramento,” Covey said.
“There is a lot to be done.”
According to Covey, during a meeting on Aug. 28, the topics of discussion included finding a way to achieve incorporation and tax-exempt status, contacting supporters, and settling on short- and long-term funding.
To become a tax-exempt corporation, Breakthrough must first secure a 501(c)(3).
Jeremy Burr, treasurer of the Board of Trustees, said that if Breakthrough can become a financially independent 501(c)(3), SCDS would be limited to providing the campus during the summer to host the Breakthrough summer program as their in-kind donation.
“I’m encouraged by these efforts and am hopeful that – with the financial support of the broader Breakthrough community — a path forward can be found that allows Breakthrough to start a new chapter as a financially independent organization,” Burr said.
According to David Jackson, executive director of Breakthrough National, the process of becoming a 501(c)(3) is relatively inexpensive and will give the program new benefits as well as requirements.
For example, after becoming independent, Breakthrough will need to produce its own administration and fiscal agent who accepts donations.
“Some Breakthrough affiliates are 501(c)(3), and they say that they do not find (it) burdensome,” Jackson said.
Jackson said that once Breakthrough has a 501(c)(3), donors can give their money directly to Breakthrough.
Direct donation might encourage more companies to donate, because they would be donating directly to the non-profit instead of donating through SCDS, Jackson said.
Jackson said that another advantage is that a 501(c)(3) will allow Breakthrough Sacramento to expand in the future. Breakthrough would not be bound to only the SCDS campus and could set up other locations at different schools.
A law firm has been contacted and is willing to assist with the process of Breakthrough becoming a 501(c)(3) free of charge, according to Covey. Monahan said that the name of this law firm will be released at a later time.
Covey said that in order to become a 501(c)(3), Breakthrough must go through the procedure of becoming a corporation. Covey said that this procedure has already begun.
“Once incorporated, we can start the process of filing for tax-exempt status,” Covey said.
Taber said that several Board members have volunteered to support establishing the non-profit corporation.
The group has also begun recruiting volunteers for future fundraising once the 501(c)(3) process is complete.
In a Facebook post that has received 122 likes on Breakthrough Sacramento’s page, Monahan said that people interested in donating or volunteering should email email@example.com.
Covey said that he hopes to attract more volunteers by publishing similar statements on other media.
Jackson has supplied the group with names and contact information of people who may be willing to help, according to Covey. Covey also said that the group will continue to keep Jackson updated.
In the next few weeks, the group will be ready to put these volunteers to work arranging fundraising activities, Covey said.
Tucker Foehl, former member of the committee for Breakthrough advancement, said that if any fundraising plans come to fruition, he would be glad to be involved.
“I have a lot of passion for, and strongly support, Breakthrough,” Foehl said.
“I will help advance (the group’s) goals if asked.”
Fundraising will take place in two stages, Covey said. One stage will fundraise during this school year to relaunch the program, and the other will fundraise for the long-term security of the program.
In her letter, Taber said that the Board has provided “information on the program history and other resources to help them achieve their goal of supporting the current Breakthrough students in this school year and going forward.”
Taber said that this information pertained to financial history, program cost, donations, fundraising and how other Breakthrough programs around the country are managed and funded.
National also supplies information on potential teaching fellows, curriculum and training modules to Breakthrough locations, Jackson said.
While National can’t fund Breakthrough programs, according to Jackson, they can connect Breakthrough Sacramento with “affiliates and offer guidance and information.”
Jackson also said that it is rare for a program to completely shut down.
Jackson oversees Breakthrough development, programming and future teaching fellow recruitment. Before becoming the executive director, Jackson was the head of school of San Francisco Day School, which has a Breakthrough program.
Jackson said that like former Breakthrough director Adolfo Mercado, Breakthrough San Francisco controlled expenses by reaching out to other locations.
Gail Graham, the former president of the Board of Trustees who introduced Breakthrough to SCDS in 1993, said that she is confident that Breakthrough Sacramento will return.
“The community of supporters is too accomplished, passionate and connected to not find a future home that would celebrate and embrace such a profoundly successful program,” Graham said.
Covey said that the support the Breakthrough network has received has made them optimistic for the program’s future.
“(We) are hopeful that the impassioned responses we received to the petition will soon translate into assistance once we get to the point that we can ask for time, energy, skills and funding,” he said.
—By Sonja Hansen