Calling upon the community-service ideals they learned as students at Ransom Everglades, two lifelong friends founded a program they hoped would inspire at-risk middle school students to recognize and reach their full potential.
Nearly 25 years later, that program – now known as Breakthrough Miami – serves more than 1,000 students from Miami-Dade County and calls Ransom Everglades School home, operating out of a rent-free office on the Middle School campus.
Class of '74 grads John Flickinger and Doug Weiser created what was then known as Summerbridge Miami in 1992. Their dream: to help talented middle-school students from disadvantaged backgrounds break through barriers of race, culture and socioeconomic status.
Ransom Everglades students and alumni spend time on Saturdays and during the summers teaching the academic and life skills necessary for success at rigorous educational institutions. The program, which extends from the fifth to 12th grades, requires a two-year commitment from its instructors and students.
Summerbridge Miami changed its name in 2004 to reflect its affiliation with the San Francisco-based Breakthrough Collaborative, which uses a students-teaching-students model to empower disadvantaged youth throughout the nation to achieve academic success.
Breakthrough Miami was recognized for its impact and excellence in 2007, receiving a $3.25 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. That allowed it to serve more students and expand to various school campuses throughout the county.
Current sites besides Ransom Everglades include the Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, Miami Country Day School, Gulliver Preparatory School, Palmer Trinity School, International Studies Charter High School and the University of Miami.