As noted by Education Northwest, “The research is abundantly clear: Young people benefit enormously when they have a voice in their environment. Youth voice encourages student engagement, fosters feelings of self-worth and builds leadership skills that prime young people for civic life.” Every school year, Breakthrough Minneapolis staff update and adapt our school year plans to the real-time needs and interests of the scholars we serve. The 2023-24 school year program was no exception.

In addition to a focus on building and reinforcing soft skills like leadership, agency and teamwork, we decided to really lean into the foundational tenets of the Breakthrough culture—community building and the importance of the Breakthrough norms. Every month, one of our norms guided our discussions and activities. For example:

  • Our norm “Students Teaching Students” was center stage as scholars gave and received academic advice from their peers in one of our most engaging activities all year.
  • We asked our scholars to dream big and remember that it is “Cool To Be Smart” while they toured local college campuses.
  • And our community centered the norm “Cool to Care” as scholars created individual artwork tiles that represented an aspect of their identity. These tiles will be assembled to create a mural that represents our great community.

As part of the mural project, we also asked our scholars for words that represent Breakthrough Minneapolis to them. We turned those words into a word cloud. The bigger the word in the word cloud, the more students said it.

To learn more about Breakthrough Minneapolis’ norms, click here.