By Carolyn Cunningham, For the AJC.

For the first time this summer, the Marietta City Schools District is sending 11 rising seventh graders to the Breakthrough Atlanta program.

For free, this academic enrichment program increases opportunity for highly motivated students of limited economic means and prepares them for college.

The six-year program meets daily during the summer and selected weekends during the school year.

Since Breakthrough Atlanta’s beginning in 1996, the program has served more than 1,900 students from Metro Atlanta’s public schools.

Of those students, 100 percent have graduated high school and 85 percent have gone on to college.

Breakthrough Atlanta students graduating in the class of 2017 were accepted to more than 80 colleges and earned $3.5 million in scholarships.

Highlights of this free program include academic review and content preview in ELA, math, science and social studies; creative electives such as photography; executive functioning skills such as study habits and goal setting; financial aid counseling and small group workshops with college recruiters.

They are taught by high school and college students, inspiring a new generation of teachers.

“Our goals are to ensure our students are academically on track for high school and college and developing the critical thinking skills and maturity to make wise choices about school and life,” according to the website at