Social Justice Education

Breakthrough Providence in Today’s Educational Landscape

Breakthrough Providence recognizes that our public education system tends not to foster critical thinkers empowered to resist oppression and transform the world into a more just place. Instead, it tends to teach kids how to survive – as students, as workers, as inmates – in the world as it is. Our public education system often perpetuates gaps in opportunity and achievement across class, race & ethnicity, gender, and language rather than eliminating them, allowing the school-to-prison pipeline to flourish unchecked.

As an out-of-school time program serving 98% students of color, most of whom are from low-income households and will be the first in their families to attend college, Breakthrough Providence assumes a deep responsibility to ensure that young people feel whole, human, empowered, and loved as they figure out who they are and how they want to contribute to the world they are inheriting.  We believe that we can accomplish this by focusing first on building trusting, nurturing relationships that draw upon the strengths of the individual child.  We then promote dialogue on ideas and topics related to race, identity, and language to deepen skills of critical inquiry, analysis, communication, and problem-solving.

How We Shift the Discourse

Breakthrough Providence strives to be a community where children are allowed to be children, to feel and express joy, and to think for themselves safely and bravely. We believe that our unique space shifts the traditional educational discourse by:

  • flattening the traditional hierarchy and power dynamic that exists between teachers and students by creating a space where learning is reciprocal and grounded in lived experience
  • realigning students’ rights and teachers’ rights as complementary instead of oppositional
  • holding high expectations for teachers and students, and building supports for them to meet those expectations
  • focusing on the relational aspects of teaching and working to cultivate meaningful relationships between teachers and students, redefining teacher effectiveness and student success
  • empowering teachers and students to advocate for meaningful change in their communities, making learning purposeful, engaging, and relevant

Our Community of Teaching and Learning

Our work supports a transformative vision of what teaching and learning can look like.

Teachers Learners

We seek to foster a community of teachers in which:

  • Teachers continually seek culturally relevant preparation for their classroom
  • Teaching is an iterative process that demands both confidence and persistent reflection
  • Teachers seek to best serve the needs of all learners
  • Teachers invest in learners as trusted participants with valuable contributions to make to the community

We seek to foster a community of learners in which:

  • Learners develop a strong sense of personal identity within a safe community
  • Learners cultivate a brave space in which questioning and risk-taking are encouraged and supported
  • Learners view themselves as lifelong learners and pursue growth opportunities within and beyond the classroom
  • Learners critically (de)construct their understandings of social systems and build just alternatives to systemic inequality

We seek to build a community in which both teachers and learners recognize gains they make within BTP and return to their communities with a sense of duty to cultivate a similar environment for future teachers and learners. We value the unique space we create and seek to build radical learning environments beyond the BTP experience.


Critical Thinking + Cultural Relevance + Creativity

Featured Student Project

Movement for Black Lives Mannequin Challenge