Breakthrough New Orleans


Established in 1990 as a direct result of well-documented, poor conditions of Orleans Parish public schools, Breakthrough New Orleans (BTNOLA) continues to respond to the ongoing need for high-quality supplementary educational services for children. BTNOLA, a non-profit organization, prepares high-potential middle school students with limited resources for rigorous academic experiences in high schools and colleges while inspiring bright high school and college students to become educators and advocates for education.

Our “Students Teaching Students” model at Isidore Newman School is a tuition-free, year-round program that pairs underserved middle school students with enthusiastic young teachers. Upon acceptance, students are required to make a consecutive three-year middle school commitment, which includes an academically-rigorous full-day, six-week summer program and a school-year component. In addition to refining core academic skills, students are encouraged to explore enrichment interests, attend field trips, and engage in college preparatory activities which continue throughout high school through the program’s College Readiness Initiative.

Breakthrough Collaborative was founded as Summerbridge in 1978 at University High School in San Francisco. In 1990, Isidore Newman School became the second school in the United States to host a Summerbridge program. In 2009, the organization was renamed Breakthrough New Orleans. Today Breakthrough New Orleans is one of 32 Breakthrough Collaborative programs throughout the United States and in Hong Kong. The Breakthrough Collaborative is consistently featured as a Top Ten Internship by the Princeton Review. The organization aims for 100% of its students and alumni to enter and succeed in college-prep high schools and college, and for 80% of its teachers to express interest in pursuing careers in education. Annually the organization serves more than 2,500 middle school students and trains over 700 college and high school students to be effective teachers.


The mission of Breakthrough New Orleans is to prepare high-potential middle school students with limited resources for academically rigorous educational experiences in high school and college, while inspiring and training high school and college students to enter the field of education and become advocates for educational equity.

Our Model

Breakthrough New Orleans (BTNOLA) is a tuition-free, academic program that serves its participants by providing rigorous programming throughout the year.

As stated in the program mission, Breakthrough New Orleans serves two different populations – public middle school students living in the greater New Orleans area as well as high school and college students. Each can anticipate a rigorous but positive life-changing experience by participating in the program.

In general, BTNOLA:
  • Provides rigorous programming for six weeks during the summer and throughout the school year (after school and Saturdays) to enrich the skill levels of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade public school students.
  • Works with families to determine the best middle and high school placement.
  • Supports alumni students in 9th-12th grades through college counseling, SAT preparation courses, and placement in summer internships.
  • Trains and supports high school and college students as classroom teachers, mentors and event planners.
  • Promotes educational advocacy.
Breakthrough New Orleans Summer Academy
This summer, more than 100 of the city's most promising public middle school students are being taught and mentored by 32 energized teachers, who are students from local high schools and top colleges throughout the country.

The 2020 Summer Academy runs from June 10 to July 17. In addition to its academic activities, the program participates in the Louisiana Department of Education’s Summer Food Service Program, providing breakfast and lunch to its students.

We encourage you to visit next summer and watch breathroughs happen!

We are now accepting applications for
BTNOLA’s 2020 Summer Academy.

List of 2 members.

  • Photo of Ashley Adams

    Ashley Adams 

    Director of Breakthrough
  • Photo of Tina Totorico

    Tina Totorico 

    BTNOLA Development Officer & Newman Engagement Liaison for Student Support
1903 Jefferson Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70115
Phone: 504.899.5641
Fax: 504.896.8597
Open 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Monday through Friday
An independent,
non-denominational day
school in New Orleans for
early childhood through 12th grade