Breaktime is a Boston-based nonprofit working to end young adult homelessness through purposeful transitional employment and financial empowerment. We empower young adults experiencing homelessness to secure stable employment and permanent housing while bolstering the health of their communities.

Our Story

Our co-founders, Connor Schoen and Tony Shu, met as undergraduate students at Harvard while working at the Y2Y Shelter for young adults experiencing homelessness. 
After noticing young adults staying at the shelter wanted to work and learning that stable employment is the most critical factor in achieving stable housing, they founded Breaktime in 2018 with a mission to break the cycle of young adult homelessness. 
Breaktime continues to evolve and grow. From developing the Breaktime Cafe to growing our Double Impact Initiative during the pandemic, our team has remained relentlessly committed to launching the careers of young adults experiencing homelessness. Through the Double Impact Initiative, we learned that empowering young adults to serve their own communities is critical in fostering purpose, dignity, and hope. Today, Breaktime continues to push forward our unique model of purposeful transitional employment. 
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about Breaktime and we hope that you join us in ensuring that every young person gets the chance to work with dignity, build stability in their lives, and serve their communities.


The Problem



stable employ-

1 in 10 young people endure some form of homelessness each year

The unemployment rate among young adults experiencing homelessness

young people in Massachusetts are unhoused and unaccompanied
on an average night

78% of this target population are Black and 89% are people of color more broadly, and 40% identify as LGBTQIA+

is the most critical factor and the most common barrier to achieving permanent stable housing

Chapin Hall, Dept. of Human Sciences at The Ohio State University, United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, The National Alliance to End Homelessness, True Colors Fund, Yale Law Journal


Our Model




Purposeful Transitional Employment


Associates are equipped with the job skills, transitional employment experience, and wages and savings they need for long-term stability and success.



Associates are engaged in meaningful work where they get to serve and interact with their community. After Breaktime, Associates are engaged in employment and/or further education and are active participants in their community.



Associates are empowered to see their own potential as a young person and changemaker.

Breaktime’s model centers around a 15-week purposeful transitional employment program called the Double Impact Initiative. This program ensures that participants (Associates) are (1) equipped with the job skills and financial stability they need for long-term success; (2) engaged in meaningful work in their community; and (3) empowered to see their own potential as a young person. We recruit young adults from other nonprofits providing transitional housing and case management, and following two weeks of cohort-based training, we co-fund the wages for Associates to work at local nonprofits and community organizations for three months. Through this early intervention, Breaktime combats long-term chronic homelessness and supports young adults in becoming changemakers in their communities.
Ultimately, the Double Impact Initiative accomplishes two goals: launching the careers of young adults experiencing homelessness and empowering them through purposeful transitional employment that promotes the health and wellbeing of their communities. We believe in the power and potential of all young people to support their communities and believe that the opportunity to give back to others is just as transformative as the job itself. We hope to not only empower young adults with the pathways and financial resources to lead a stable life, but we also hope to empower young adults with the purpose and perspective to become changemakers in our community.



"Now I go to the same streets I used to get in trouble on and help people advance to where I am now. I am so pleased and so proud that I can change someone else's life, and I never thought I'd be doing anything like this. It shocks me...I didn't think I'd make it past 20. But I did. Giving back gives me purpose."

IMG_8069 (1).jpg


"Breaktime is a gateway into an endless world of possibilities and opportunities...It has brought tears to my eyes, being at ABCD and working at a food pantry because I have always longed and dreamed of working in a food pantry and giving back...The amount of support that they have poured into my life with my time here at Breaktime has been unimaginable…"


What is purposeful transitional employment and why does it work?

Purposeful transitional employment helps young adults experiencing homelessness overcome employment obstacles through living-wage jobs that offer stability, advance professional skills, and build confidence. Breaktime’s transitional work program provides young adults a bridge from housing instability to stable employment — which is the most critical factor in obtaining stable housing. While programs that only include foundational job training exist, many young adults experiencing homelessness remain unemployed months and even years after completing them. Transitional employment provides a sustainable framework for achieving stable employment through professional development within a supportive environment. 


  • Real work experience in a supportive and understanding environment 

  • Professional career development 

  • Fosters strong communication skills and feedback processes 

  • Flexibility allows room for mistakes and growth 

  • Opportunities for peer and social support 


Wages and Matched Savings

Breaktime matches the savings of our Associates empowering them to leave Breaktime with the assets they need to obtain and maintain stable, permanent housing. In particular, Breaktime Associates can save up to $50/week, which Breaktime will match one-to-one.

Associates can earn up to


Paid + earning + emergency =


Over 13 weeks, Associates are able to accrue up to $1,300 in savings, which they can access immediately upon finishing our program.

Our Values


Community is at the core of Breaktime’s mission. Ending young adult homelessness requires compassion and mindfulness, both in our words and deeds. Breaktime uses language that puts people before labels, recognizing that individuals are not defined by their homelessness.


We leverage our innovative Double Impact Initiative to simultaneously support young adults experiencing homelessness and their neighbors facing community health crises. Our adaptive model ensures Breaktime can partner with a variety of organizations to create jobs, while remaining flexible enough to make changes when we see fit.


Elevating the youth voice is a guiding principle behind Breaktime’s work. As youth leaders serving other young people, we strive to create an equitable and inclusive space that advocates for the people we serve.

Action-Driven Optimism

Breaktime is mission-driven, forward-looking, and proudly idealistic. We believe in the powerful potential of young people to effect real and lasting change in our fight to end young adult homelessness.


Meet the Breaktime Team

We are a community of action-driven optimists committed to ending young adult homelessness


Board of Directors

Jessica Castro

Director of Program and Operations at the Trefler Foundation.


Gary Pforzheimer

President of PG Calc, Former Chair of the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning (now CGP).


Grace Sterling Stowell

Executive director of BAGLY, founding member of the MA Commission on LGBTQ Youth and the MA Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Commission, long time Steering Committee member of the MA Transgender Political Coalition.


Mikayla Woodberry

Alumna of Breaktime, Employee at Boston Public Health Commission.


Connor Schoen

Co-Founder of Breaktime


Tony Shu

Co-Founder of Breaktime


Breaktime connects and builds trust with the young adults we support. Our Youth Leadership Board, composed of 10 young adults, has lived experiences of homelessness, and frequently advises Breaktime's programming, policies, and strategic plan. Involving young adults in Breaktime’s decision-making ensures we receive direct feedback from the population we serve and learn how to best support our associates.

Youth Leadership Board


Our Partners

We do not work alone. We are immensely grateful for our numerous employment site partners, young adult referral partners, sponsors, donors, and more for their collaboration and dedication to ending young adult homelessness.

Employment Site Partners

Referral Site Partners

Our Sponsors and Donors


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