WHAT IS A BREAKTHROUGH SCHOOL?
Breakthrough schools are communities where students reach their full potential—and where the academic achievement of lower-income students is indistinguishable from that of their higher-income peers. Breakthrough schools directly address the effects of poverty and adversity, and they provide enrichment, high expectations, and the deep relationships that all children need to thrive. We expect breakthrough schools to put all children on a path to higher education, meaningful work, and rewarding lives.
Although we expect a real diversity of schools and schools models in our portfolio, the unifying imperative in all our school creation work is equity. For far too long, schoolchildren in D.C. and other urban areas have been subject to a what we call a “narrative of disinheritance” and to persistent inequities of experience, resources, and perceived worth, often based on their race, class, or story. Great schools can disrupt and redirect replace that narrative. When designed thoughtfully, schools can be places where students—regardless of race or socioeconomic status—are secure, valued, and can risk real accomplishment; they are places where love and justice thrive. Equitable schools always deliver academic results, but they do so in a way that develops in students key habits of autonomy, mastery, and independent thought. Only then, with schools that foster authentic human agency, can we say we have achieved our goal of intentional equity.
Educators in our portfolio design schools around three core principles: intentional equity, commitment to deep, personal learning, and expansive measures of success.