We. Are. Breakthrough! In Breakthrough, these words are synonymous with leadership, spirit and achievement. As past teaching leaders in the program, Carly Mills Tatum ’00
and Geof LeBus ’02
know first-hand how every Breakthrough Fort Worth student and Teaching Fellow embodies these qualities, and they jumped at the chance to serve as Co-Chairs of this year’s Fancy Meal
with their spouses to continue to raise awareness and support for the program and its students. View the Fancy Meal
Working together, Carly and her husband, Stephen Tatum ’01, alongside Geof and his wife, Meg LeBus, rallied the Fort Worth community to support Breakthrough and its mission. From expanding Breakthrough’s audience to garnering special guests, they helped raise more than $96,000 to ensure resources for the students to fulfill their summer and school-year classes, workshops and activities.
“Breakthrough students are some of the most hard-working, passionate and talented leaders I have met. They are the future of our Fort Worth community, and we are thrilled to be part of the energy again and to see the community support behind the students,” Carly said. Her former teaching colleague, Geof, added, “It is great to have the students so well supported. We know first-hand how important being there for the students is, and we’re happy that so many came together for them.”
The core purpose of the program is to empower public middle school students on a six-year path to college, many becoming first-generation college students in the process. As they progress through grades 7-12, Breakthrough’s supplementary enrichment programming readies students with academic support, college knowledge instruction, and character-driven leadership training that encompasses core values, team skills, and social coaching.
Fancy Meal keynote speaker, Elijah Ballesteros BT’17, was one of those students. He delivered a moving reflection on his parents’ influence and Breakthrough’s impact on him and his two older sisters. Elijah graduated from Southwestern University in 2021, earning a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry with a minor in Psychology on a pre-med track. He now is serving as a high school biology educator at O.D. Wyatt High School through the Teach for America (TFA) Partnership placement. Beyond his student involvement with Breakthrough, Elijah taught two summers as a Chemistry Fellow and served as this year’s Sophomore Dean.
He credited his father’s guidance in helping him to understand that his life choices and education could expand his opportunities. Elijah praised Breakthrough for sparking the goals he set, which started with him attending Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences (TABS) Early College High School, a Fort Worth ISD School of Choice. (He graduated TABS first in his class.)
Breakthrough Fort Worth Executive Director Joe Breedlove ’78 said, “Elijah is an amazing example of how vital it is to help strong students like him, and those following in his footsteps, get on a goal-driven path early. He’s a learner and a blossoming leader, an asset to the community we all are part of, and everyone from his parents to his school leaders to his Breakthrough family to every donor and volunteer who supported his journey is part of his success, which makes it our success together.”
The Tatums and the LeBuses agree. “Empowering these students and teachers makes our community stronger and better,” Carly said. Building on that, the LeBuses added, “Most successful people have a community of family, friends and cheerleaders behind them. We are glad to help broaden the village upholding these students, and we are grateful to everyone who took part in that with the four of us this summer.”
For more information on how you can be part of the Breakthrough family for student successes, check out ‘Giving’ at fwcd.org/breakthrough