Breakthrough Austin Receives Largest Ever Donation of $1 Million

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Former Freescale CEO Gregg Lowe and Wife Diana Make a $1 million Matching Donation to Breakthrough Austin to Help 600 More Low-Income Students Become First in Their Families to Graduate from College.

"Helping more low-income students graduate from college is key to addressing Austin's growing need for a motivated and high-caliber workforce," said Gregg Lowe.

Breakthrough Austin, a nonprofit helping students become the first in their families to graduate from college, has received a $1 million matching donation from Gregg and Diana Lowe.

The former Freescale Semiconductor CEO and his wife, a first-generation college graduate and Breakthrough Austin board member, hope to help the nonprofit raise a total of $2 million this year to support the enrollment of 600 additional students in the group’s extensive academic support and guidance program.

Breakthrough Austin believes that education is the best way to break the cycle of poverty and bridge the growing economic divide in our community. Founded in 2001, Breakthrough Austin makes a 12-year commitment to students, providing a program that integrates academics, enrichment activities, character education, and dedicated advisor-advocates to help students overcome obstacles—academic, financial, or personal—and stay on track through their entire educational career. Breakthrough Austin's long-term comprehensive approach prepares students to become first-generation college graduates.

Breakthrough Austin currently serves 1,090 students in Austin and Manor. In the last three years, fully 100 percent of students enrolled in the program graduated from high school on time compared to 83 percent of all students from low-income households in Central Texas. In 2015, nearly 92 percent of Breakthrough Austin’s students enrolled directly in college compared to 44 percent of low-income students.

And unlike similar programs in Central Texas, Breakthrough Austin continues to support students through college, resulting in a college graduation rate five times higher than the general graduation rate for low-income students.

Diana Lowe hopes the couple’s donation will help Breakthrough Austin extend the geographic reach of the program to enroll students in other Central Texas school districts where the number of low-income students is growing as Austin becomes more expensive.

“Being the first in my family to graduate from a university opened my life to numerous possibilities,” she said. “I want to open that doorway to success to many more kids throughout Central Texas to help them reach their potential and achieve their dreams.”

Currently only six percent of low-income middle school students in Central Texas go on to graduate from college while two-thirds of new jobs created in the Austin area require a college degree.

“Breakthrough Austin levels the playing field between low-income students and their more affluent peers by offering the academic support and guidance needed for students to succeed academically and navigate the difficult transitions from middle school through college,” said Breakthrough Austin Executive Director Michael Griffith. “All of our students are blazing a new trail for themselves and their families, and that trail is mostly uphill. We’re there to support them every step of the way.”

Gregg Lowe said he views Breakthrough Austin’s work as important not only for the children that they serve but also for Central Texas businesses that depend on well-educated employees to compete.

"Helping more low-income students graduate from college is key to addressing Austin's growing need for a motivated and high-caliber workforce," said Gregg Lowe. "Breakthrough Austin has a proven track record of success through extensive and sustained support, and we want to help them change the lifetime trajectories for hundreds more kids and their families."

About Breakthrough Austin

Breakthrough Austin builds a path to college for low-income students who will be the first in their families to earn a degree. Breakthrough combines rigorous academic programming with personalized guidance and a “do whatever it takes” philosophy to make students nearly five times more likely to graduate from college than other low-income students in Central Texas. Breakthrough is growing rapidly; it currently serves 1,090 students, which will increase to more than 2,000 by 2020. Learn more at http://www.BreakthroughAustin.org.

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