Breakthrough Ambassadors College Campus Tour

Visit Duke and UNC Chapel Hill on 11/23/14 – 11/24/14 with Breakthrough Ambassadors. The tour is open to parents and 10th – 12th grade high school students.

Check out this fantastic opportunity through Breakthrough Ambassadors to visit UNC Chapel Hill and Duke for an overnight stay! 10th, 11th, and 12th graders from any high school and parents are all invited – Come and join us. This is a chance that comes to very few, so take advantage of viewing two of the South’s best schools.

COST: $75/person (includes transportation & hotel)

WHEN: Sunday, November 23rd – Depart 7 a.m.
through Monday, November 24th (college visits & return home – around 10:00 p.m.)

HOW: 55 passenger Charter Bus

COLLEGES: Duke University & the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill

Space is limited. First come, first served.

Any questions? Contact


Register Now


Breakthrough Norcross Partners with Local Elementary School

Breakthrough Norcross, after nearly two years of working toward establishing a collective impact project to improve educational outcomes for Norcross students, partnered with Beaver Ridge Elementary to offer a Robotics camp for their rising fourth and fifth graders. Students who are interested in the subject of Robotics were able to sign up for a weeklong day camp over the summer, and, as a  part of my summer internship with Georgia Center for Opportunity, I had the opportunity to check out what was going on at the Robotics Camp ­– dubbed Beaver Bots – last Thursday.

Environmentally, the robotics room is a collection of the parts, programs, and challenges for the robots that would be the primary tool of the weeklong camp. Two teachers facilitate the camp for approximately 30 students, who all spend most of their time in the robotics room. The Mindstorms, as the machines are officially named, are designed by Lego with the capacity to carry out a series of complex tasks. Various challenge courses are then set up in order to test the robots and their human operator through a diverse array of task completion.beaver bots1

The teachers lead each of the kids through the tasks at a very basic level that eventually handed over full reign of the robots and their programming to the kids. In fact, the teachers made it their mission to equip and not baby their students, and the kids loved it. The kids would cheer each other on through their successes and encourage each other through their missteps. Both boys and girls were learning to wrestle with the complex tasks assigned to them, and this development of perseverance – or grit as some call it – served as the crux for success in future tasks for the club.beaver bots

One of the students was so excited about her experience there that she couldn’t help but exclaim how much she loved working with her friends and other students. She remarked that it wasn’t about winning or losing, although that was a component of the camp; but it was about trying your hardest and having fun with friends.

Of course, there were winners and losers, but the winners encouraged the losers, and the losers cheered on the winners; and everyone was having fun. Furthermore, and most significantly, the kids were not criticizing each other for their initial shortcomings on the challenge field. In fact, they outright refused to submit to failure, consistently returning to  the drawing board until they found success.beaver bots2

Kids are playing with robots, encouraging each other, and carving a pathway into higher learning. It sounds utopic and in some regards it really is. It’s the start of something great, albeit unfinished. It’s just one small part of a larger story that’s unfolding through Breakthrough Norcross, and I have a feeling that the best is yet to come.


This blog was written by Patrick DeMartino.  Patrick is pursuing a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Georgia.  This is his second summer interning with GCO working to support our Solution Delivery work.

Beyond Inspiration: Incubating Good Ideas

Charles Lee Photo

Recently, I had the privilege of attending an inspiring seminar sponsored by Chick-fil-A Foundation and Gifted Education Foundation (a GCO partner), entitled “Beyond Inspiration: Moving Ideas to Execution”.  As I walked into the Chick-fil-A Discovery Center to find my seat, my eyes wandered around the state of art facility, I was ready to experience the learning lab and to be inspired!

Charles Lee, CEO of Ideation and author of Good Idea. Now What? How to Move Ideas to Execution, was the speaker for the seminar.  Charles helps businesses and organizations craft and facilitate amazing ideas via creative business design, branding and innovative problem-solving.

In his opening he stated, “The greatest collections of human treasures are in the graveyard. There are too many songs and too many books that have been buried.” With this image in my mind, a moment of sadness came over me for the people who did not have the opportunity to share their ideas with the world.  Then, a smile broke through when I thought about all the possible ideas being executed in the filled room.

Mr. Lee focused on three areas: creating a remarkable idea, idea-making best practices and developing a remarkable brand.  When creating a remarkable idea, ask clarifying questions so that our ideas can connect to the world. Ask questions such as Who are You?, What do you do uniquely? , and What does it matter?  He informed that a few best practices are to write down your ideas (rational and irrational) in order to stay focused and to take time to breathe in order for your ideas to grow and develop.  Mr. Lee encouraged us to develop brand attributes that are “authentically you”.  Making sure your visual identity is consistent with your brand is the utmost important internally and externally. These are just some areas discussed during the seminar intended to help inspire us to better execute our ideas.

After the seminar, we were escorted on a tour of the Chick-fil-A’s 80,000 square foot innovation center.   My colleagues and I were amazed by this huge warehouse that was designed to encourage people to think outside the box. The space was colorful with an open office environment that celebrated creativity and service. In fact, red boxes climb the wall and hung onto the ceiling until the boxes eventually formed an airplane. This space was truly designed to nurture innovation.

One of my colleagues, Linda Newton, who also attended the event shared how her approach to work productivity was impacted by the workshop. She said, “I have a tendency to be a bit too social at work and often get distracted by others. Some points Charles made concerning productivity have led me to implement two practices that are helping me to be less distracted and more productive. I now only schedule meetings after lunch and I work with my office door closed each morning until lunchtime. These are two simple, yet effective tactics.”

For me, exhilarating and motivating are two words that come to mind when describing my experience at the Beyond Inspiration learning lab with Charles Lee and Chick-fil-A Innovation Center.   As I think about the mission of GCO: to remove barriers to opportunity.  The very nature of our education advocacy work comes to mind.  We have been a strong voice in school choice by helping to expand academic options (i.e. tax credit scholarships, special needs scholarships, public school transfers, private schools and charter schools) for more than 15,000 children in Georgia.  Through our grassroots outreach efforts we have trained more than 60 advocates on topics such as how to talk with a legislator, how to use social media, and blog writing and interviewing skills for media.  Additionally, we created a School Choice Handbook to serves as a reference for anyone seeking school choice options.  Though thousands of children have benefitted from our efforts, there are thousands of children who still need our help.  Therefore, we will continue to be a champion for education reform and school choice options at the capitol and at a grassroots level.

As we continue to remove barriers, there is nothing more exhilarating and motivating to me than the goal of seeing all children in Georgia have the opportunity to receive a great education.  My hope is for children to experience an environment where their innovation can be nurtured and they can be inspired just as I was in learning lab and in my work place.

CBS Covers Breakthrough Norcross Reception at NHS

Monday afternoon, December 2, Breakthrough Norcross celebrated the completion of its three-part “listening tour” with an authentic White House Reception held at Norcross High School.

Prior to the reception, the last of three working meetings were held in which nearly 30 representatives from numerous business, non-profits, churches, and schools reviewed and made final contributions to the Breakthrough Norcross collective impact strategy.

To aid in celebrating this great milestone, Walter Scheib, former White House Executive Chef to the Clinton and Bush administrations, prepared a wonderful meal for meeting participants, as well as numerous other community representatives invited to hear about Breakthrough Norcross’  cradle to career plan for collective impact.

For those unable to join us, CBS Atlanta covered the event.  See their re-cap here.