What is Breakthrough Silicon Valley?

Breakthrough Silicon Valley is a six-year academic and college readiness program for talented and motivated middle and high school students. From 7th through 12th grade, students participate in a variety of summer and after school activities geared towards challenging them academically and preparing them for rigorous college-prep high schools and four-year colleges.

Our classes follow a “student-teaching-students” model. Our teachers are high school or college students who are trained and supervised by professional teachers. This model is an exciting way for young people to learn from one another. Led by inspiring young teachers who are excited about academics, our students internalize the importance of their own education and take responsibility for seeking academic challenges.

Learn more about our program here.

What are the program goals?

Breakthrough Silicon Valley’s goal is to inspire and prepare motivated middle and high school students to succeed in college preparatory high school programs and attend college.

The program is also focused on encouraging outstanding high school and college students - who teach, tutor, and mentor Breakthrough students in our summer and school year programs - to pursue careers in education.

Who can apply?

Currently, we are partnered with two public school districts: San Jose Unified School District and Franklin-McKinley School District. Because of this partnership, we can only accept applications from students who are enrolled in one of these two districts.

In general, only 6th grade students are eligible to apply. A very limited number of 7th grade students may also be admitted every year. To be accepted, students must be willing to commit to our program through 12th grade.

Who will teach my child?

Students from the best high schools and colleges across the country lead our classrooms and are eager to share their passion for learning with our students. Each summer teaching fellow and after-school program facilitator goes through a rigorous selection process including an application and interview, and during their time at Breakthrough they are mentored by experienced teaching professionals.

Our "students-teaching-students" model is an exciting way for your child to learn. Middle school students become enormously engaged in their own education when they work with teachers close to their own age.

How much does Breakthrough Silicon Valley cost?

Breakthrough Silicon Valley is TUITION-FREE for all students. Due to the generous support of Applied Materials, San Jose Unified School District, Franklin-McKinley School District and numerous individuals, businesses, and foundations, students pay nothing to participate. Your family’s commitment to Breakthrough is your payment.

Who is the typical Breakthrough Silicon Valley student?

Our students have a desire to learn, try new things, and have fun. Breakthrough students have a strong desire to achieve academically and to be leaders—preparing themselves for challenging high schools and colleges and beyond. Also, most but not all of our students come from under-served communities.

Is there an age requirement?

Yes. Breakthrough Silicon Valley recruits 6th graders. Applications placed for other grade levels are considered on a limited basis based on student enrollment.

What commitment will my child have to make?

Children accepted to Breakthrough Silicon Valley are expected to actively participate in the six-year program. The requirements vary depending on the grade level of the student; however, the intensity of the program necessitates a deep and serious long-term commitment. For more information, click here.

Is there homework?

Of course! Breakthrough Silicon Valley is an academic program for students eager to learn and grow. Homework is an important part of learning. Two hours of homework each weeknight during the summer is expected of all Breakthrough students. There is also homework for the after school program.

Can we miss a few days of the summer session?

No. Daily attendance at Breakthrough Silicon Valley during the summer is mandatory, except in cases of serious illness or legitimate emergencies. As the summer program is short but intense, missing a few days will put a student behind. You should not apply to the program if your family plans to take extended vacations during the Breakthrough dates. We may make exceptions on a case-by-case basis during the school year.

The commitment made to Breakthrough Silicon Valley by the students and their families should be taken seriously.

Where is Breakthrough Silicon Valley?

Breakthrough Silicon Valley has offices at Hoover Middle School and at the Franklin-McKinley School District Office. The summer program is located on school campuses in the South Bay. Locations change from year to year.

Breakthrough Silicon Valley
c/o Hoover Middle School
1635 Park Avenue, Room 138
San Jose, CA 95126

Is transportation provided?

Breakthrough Silicon Valley provides transportation for the summer session. We also provide transportation for field trips and some activities during the year. Students must provide their own transportation to the after school program.

Is lunch provided?

Yes, breakfast, lunch, and snacks are provided to all students during the summer program. You may want to have your child bring their own lunch if he/she has special dietary needs.

How can my child apply?

For more information about the application process and to download an application, please click here.

What are the responsibilities of Breakthrough parents and guardians?

Parental support is important for academic success and that holds true at Breakthrough Silicon Valley. We will ask for your support in ensuring that your child attends all program activities and does their homework consistently.

There are also a few events that parents must attend.

Which subjects are taught at Breakthrough Silicon Valley?

During the summer, students may choose classes in math, science, literature, writing, the arts, athletics, and a range of academic activities. The after school program emphasizes math.

Is there a uniform or dress code?

There is no uniform but the program does enforce an appropriate dress code. If accepted, your child will receive a student handbook outlining all expectations.

How do you measure my child’s progress?

Your child’s progress will be assessed throughout the 6-year program. First and foremost we focus on academic success at the student’s school. We monitor our students’ grades at key checkpoints during the year. We also use our own tools to track progress: an individualized Student Success Plan and end of summer evaluation. Each student is given an evaluation and a Student Success Plan so that he/she, the family, the school, and Breakthrough Silicon Valley understand his/her strengths and weaknesses. Both documents are developed as a result of formal and informal assessment throughout the summer and school year programs. Full-time staff, mentor teachers, and teaching fellows work collaboratively to use this academic data to produce an individualized plan for each student.

If you would like more information, please contact Tina Briceño, Director of Admissions and Middle School Programs, at