Fund-A-Scholar Co-Chairs Lindsey Backscheider (left) and Stacey Beardsley (right) with current Breakthrough Atlanta scholars (left to right) Faith Favors, Hannah Martin, Joshua Garcia and Kobe Walker.

Breakthrough Atlanta raised more than $445k at its eighth annual Fund-A-Scholar event. More than 400 people came together at The Foundry at Puritan Mill on November 2 to support Fund-A-Scholar, which raises critical funds for underserved students to attend Breakthrough Atlanta’s educational programs. Support raised will cover 150 student scholarships in 2024.

For more than 27 years, Breakthrough Atlanta has fostered life-changing academic and personal breakthroughs in more than 2,500 students and nearly 600 teaching fellows. Our transformational programs, coupled with our students’ hard work and determination, have propelled them to pursue their greatest potential and achieve their dreams.

Monique Shields, CEO of Breakthrough Atlanta.
Monique Shields, CEO of Breakthrough Atlanta.

“Through our six-year, year round tuition-free programming, we give youth the tools to break through barriers like education disparities, under-resourced schools, teacher shortages, and self-doubt, equipping them to become leaders, educators, and agents of change in their communities,” said Monique Shields, Breakthrough Atlanta Chief Executive Officer. 

In his keynote speech, Philadelphia attorney Jamal Hill, former Breakthrough Atlanta scholar and teaching fellow, and current board member for Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia, says his Breakthrough Atlanta experience set a positive trajectory for his life.

Keynote speaker Jamal Hill: former Breakthrough Atlanta scholar and teaching fellow, current board member for Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia
Keynote speaker Jamal Hill: former Breakthrough Atlanta scholar and teaching fellow, current board member for Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia.

“Twenty-two years ago is when my Breakthrough story began,” Hill said. “Little did I know, it would be the beginning of my own personal breakthrough. It was the foundation that gave me the confidence and high expectations that led me on the path to college, and ultimately on to law school to officially become Jamal Hill, Esquire.”

For Jaila Mason, one of Breakthrough Atlanta’s former teaching fellows, she had an entirely different career path planned until she experienced a breakthrough. She originally planned to pursue a career in medicine, but after spending two summers as a teaching fellow, she entered the teaching profession instead. Today, she’s a first-grade teacher and has plans to pursue a Masters of Arts in Teaching.

Breakthrough Atlanta Teaching Fellow alum Jaila Mason.
Breakthrough Atlanta Teaching Fellow alum Jaila Mason.

“Education has always played a major role in my life,” Mason said. “It is my goal to close the education gaps all over the world by breaking racial barriers, increasing equity in classrooms, and ultimately creating a safe learning environment that creates a pipeline for students to become successful in their future endeavors.”

Current Breakthrough Atlanta seventh grader Kobe Walker shared that, “Breakthrough Atlanta has changed my future.”

Current Breakthrough Atlanta scholar Kobe Walker with Fund-A-Scholar Co-Chairs Stacey Beardsley (left) and Lindsey Backscheider (right)
Current Breakthrough Atlanta scholar Kobe Walker with Fund-A-Scholar Co-Chairs Stacey Beardsley (left) and Lindsey Backscheider (right).

Breakthrough Atlanta’s success is possible because of many important partnerships.

“We can always accomplish more together than we can apart,” Shields said. “Our partnership with the Lovett School 27 years ago laid a strong foundation for where we are today, our partnerships with public school systems, local colleges and universities enable us to engage highly-motivated students to participate in our programs, and of course our partnership with our generous community allows us to provide our programs and services free of charge.”

Bottom row left to right: Amy Curtin (Breakthrough Atlanta Fundraising Events & Communications Manager), Lindsey Backscheider (Fund-A-Scholar Co-Chair), Monique Shields (Breakthrough Atlanta CEO), Stacey Beardsley (Fund-A-Scholar Co-Chair) Middle row left to right: Martha Bosworth, Chrisst Jenkins, Rebecca Brodnan Smith, Leslie Thomas Top row left to right: Morgan Rogers, Shanna Bradley, Michelle Guski (Breakthrough Atlanta Development Director), Nikki Ibbotson
Bottom row left to right: Amy Curtin (Breakthrough Atlanta Fundraising Events & Communications Manager), Lindsey Backscheider (Fund-A-Scholar Co-Chair), Monique Shields (Breakthrough Atlanta CEO), Stacey Beardsley (Fund-A-Scholar Co-Chair) Middle row left to right: Martha Bosworth, Chrisst Jenkins, Rebecca Brodnan Smith, Leslie Thomas Top row left to right: Morgan Rogers, Shanna Bradley, Michelle Guski (Breakthrough Atlanta Development Director), Nikki Ibbotson

As a nonprofit organization, Breakthrough Atlanta relies on generous community support, including those who made this year’s Fund-A-Scholar event a success. We would like to thank the event co-chairs Stacey Beardsley and Lindsey Backscheider, the Fund-A-Scholar host committee, sponsors, Breakthrough’s Board of Directors, and donors for helping to meet needs and provide opportunities for underserved students throughout metro Atlanta. We would also like to thank William Blair as our presenting sponsor and Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles as our media sponsor.

Current Breakthrough Atlanta scholars. Faith Favors, Hannah Martin, Joshua Garcia and Kobe Walker.
Current Breakthrough Atlanta scholars. Faith Favors, Hannah Martin, Joshua Garcia and Kobe Walker.

Breakthrough Atlanta fulfills a dual mission to increase academic opportunity for highly motivated, underserved students and get them into college ready to succeed; and inspire and develop the next generation of teachers and educational leaders. For more information about Breakthrough Atlanta or to support its mission, visit breakthroughatlanta.org.