Breakthrough Twin Cities is a six-year, tuition-free academic enrichment and college preparatory program that helps under-resourced students prepare for college success. Our goal is to identify young people who are in need of and who will take full advantage of the support that the program offers.



Breakthrough students demonstrate and work to improve their ability to live out our Breakthrough Codes for College Success.

  1. Be Breakthrough: Demonstrates motivation to learn, work hard, and find their own, unique path to college
  2. Strive to Understand: Appreciates differences in others and seeks to learn more about others’ points of view.
  3. Relish Hard Work Together: Tries to work well with teachers, school counselors and family members.  We’re here as a team so Parent(s) and  guardian(s) also have to be committed to student’s success in the program
  4. Be Grateful: Shows respect towards peers and adults and works to make Breakthrough a great place for everyone
  5. Be Curious: Demonstrates excitement about learning and eager to explore their passions and interests
  6. Live the Growth Mindset: Willing to accept feedback
  7. Persist: Knows that getting to college takes a lot of work and is fully committed to the 6-year Program

In addition, Breakthrough Twin Cities students typically meet two or more of the following need-criteria:

  1. First in their families to attend a four-year college or university
  2. Low-income (qualify for free or reduced lunch)
  3. English is not their primary language
  4. Single-parent family
  5. Racial or ethnic minority group that is under-represented in college



Commitment. Motivation. Engagement. Breakthrough Twin Cities is a six-year, tuition-free academic enrichment and college preparatory program that helps students prepare for college success. Beginning in the summer after 6th grade, we work with young people who are excited to take full advantage of the program. And we stand by them every step of the way through college acceptance.

Students (and their families) enrolling in Breakthrough Twin Cities make a six-year commitment!  The time commitment varies each year of the program, with the most intensive programming offered during the summers leading into 7th, 8th, and 9th grade, and during the college counseling process in 11th and 12th grade.  However, students are expected to attend events about once per month throughout the school year for all 6 years.  We are a tuition-free program. While it does not cost anything to participate students and families “pay” for the experience with their hard work and commitment.

Apply Now!

Our deadline to join for summer 2018 has passed, but if you are currently in 5th grade, you will be eligible to apply for summer 2019! Visit our website again in fall 2018, or email us to let us know you’re interested!

2018 Student Application

There are five parts to the application:

  1. Student Statement
  2. Parent Statement
  3. Two Teacher Recommendations
  4. Student Information Release Form (with a copy of report cards and test scores)
  5. Two Recommendation forms

All five parts need to be sent and received by the Breakthrough Twin Cities office by the application deadline of February 7th. Due to the high number of applications received each year, incomplete or late applications will not be considered for acceptance.


Every one of our students share the goal of graduating from a four-year college or university. On top of that, all Breakthrough Twin Cities students are expected to:

  • Take at least one honors (pre-AP/IB) course each year, starting in 7th grade.
  • Earn a B- or above in all core courses.
  • Have 95% attendance at Breakthrough Twin Cities programming (unless excused for illness or family emergency).
  • Maintain a respectful, constructive attitude at Breakthrough Twin Cities and school.
  • Complete 90 minutes of “Boo-Yah!” (homework) each night during the middle school summer program.
  • Complete assignments and attend workshops for the school year program during high school.
  • Be involved in at least one extracurricular activity (outside of Breakthrough Twin Cities) each year.

Breakthrough staff are fully committed to supporting students to meet these expectations if students are struggling to reach any of these goals.


    Parents & Guardians of Breakthrough Twin Cities students make a commitment to:

    • Understand and follow through with the six-year commitment that your child is making to Breakthrough Twin Cities
    • Ensure their child attends required program dates.
    • Attend required family events like: Back to Breakthrough, Parent Conferences, and Celebration.
    • Complete a family meeting/workshop with a Breakthrough staff member each year.
    • Proactively communicate with Breakthrough Twin Cities regarding your child’s academics, as well as changes in contact information.
    • Actively help your child raise any grades that fall below a B-.


      Have a question? Check out some of the more common inquiries we get about our program, and feel free to reach out to us for further information.

      What commitments will I have to make to Breakthrough Twin Cities?

      If you are accepted to Breakthrough Twin Cities as a student, you are expected to participate actively in the program starting the summer before seventh grade through the end of your senior year in high school.

      What is the Breakthrough summer schedule?

      During the summer, Breakthrough Twin Cities takes place for six weeks (late June to early August), Monday through Friday, from approximately 7:30AM – 3:00PM. 

      Is it OK to miss a few days of the program for vacation?

      Daily attendance at Breakthrough Twin Cities is mandatory, except in cases of illness.  With only 40 days of programming each year, students who are absent will fall behind quickly and miss valuable instruction. If your family is planning an extended vacation during the Breakthrough dates, you should talk to Breakthrough staff before applying to the program.

      Where is Breakthrough Twin Cities?

       Breakthrough Twin Cities has two program locations in the Metro area: Mounds Park Academy on the East Side of Saint Paul and Saint Paul Central High School.  Students do NOT need to attend one of the host schools to apply!

      Which site will I go to if I am accepted?  

      All students submit applications directly to Breakthrough Twin Cities. Breakthrough Twin Cities places students primarily by which site location is closer to their home address. Breakthrough staff will assign and notify participants of their particular program location when students are accepted into the program. Students will stay with the same Breakthrough site for the entire six-year program. Connection to your BTC site and community is one of the most important parts of the program, students will only be allowed to request a location change for unique circumstances.  

      Is transportation provided?

      If students live in Saint Paul, buses will pick up and drop off students at points near their homes.  If students do not live in Saint Paul, families are responsible for arranging transportation to and from the program.

      Are meals provided?

      Yes.  During the summer, we will provide breakfast, lunch, and snack to all students.  You may bring lunch if you desire.  

      Is Breakthrough Twin Cities a regular school?

      Breakthrough Twin Cities is an enrichment program, which means that it only takes place during the summer and on Saturdays during the school year, so it all takes place outside of regular school hours. Students will attend Breakthrough programming in addition to their regular school. Breakthrough is not an alternative to year-round school. 

      How much does the program cost?

      Nothing. Breakthrough Twin Cities is tuition-free for students. Due to support from numerous foundations and individual supporters, our students pay nothing to participate. We expect families and students to “pay” for the program through their commitment.

      When do I find out if I am accepted?

      Student applications are typically due in early February each year. Breakthrough staff takes approximately one month to review all applications. In mid-March, we notify accepted students and families to a final in-person enrollment interview. Students and families who complete that interview fully and successfully will be enrolled in the program for the next six years. Unfortunately, because of a limited number of spaces, we cannot accept every student who applies.  

      What are the responsibilities of Breakthrough parents and guardians?

      Parental support is very important for academic success and that holds true at Breakthrough Twin Cities   We will ask for your support in ensuring that your child attends the program every day and does his or her homework consistently.  There are also a couple of events and an individual meeting that parents must attend annually.

      Breakthrough Twin Cities

      2051 Larpenteur Ave E, Saint Paul, MN 55109, USA