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Breaktime’s core program is a one-year supported transitional employment program that utilizes supported partnerships to empower young adults experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.  Our 3 unique programs, Launchpad, Liftoff, and Stable Orbit, provide young adults with the skills and support they need to access living wage jobs and stable housing.  

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

75%

480

stable
employment

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

EQUIP

ENGAGE

EMPOWER

Purposeful Transitional Employment
 

Equip

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

 

Engage

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.

 

Empower 

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

Breaktime’s core program is a one-year supported transitional employment program that utilizes supported partnerships to empower young adults experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.  Our 3 unique programs, Launchpad, Liftoff, and Stable Orbit, provide young adults with the skills and support they need to access living wage jobs and stable housing.  We work closely with local non-profits, youth shelters, and short-term housing providers to identify young adults in need of transitional programming and support to enroll them in our Launchpad Program.

Launchpad is a cohort-based professional development training program focused on soft skills and financial empowerment.  As part of Launchpad, young adults receive credit counseling and can enroll in our match savings program.  Upon completion, Breaktime connects associates with local nonprofits or small businesses where they work for three months as part of our Liftoff Program. During this time, they earn a living wage of $16+ per hour for 20-30 hours per week while gaining valuable work experience with continued support from Pathway Coaches.  This process of early intervention enables Breaktime to combat long-term chronic homelessness and support young adults in becoming stably employed and housed.  At the conclusion of Liftoff, young adults are enrolled into our Stable Orbit program which provides 9+ months of continued support towards their career and education goals via Pathway Coaching.  Breaktime’s Pathway Coaches come from Boston’s top Master of Social Work programs and provide intentional  support to young adults throughout the entirety of the model.  They provide one-on-support, facilitate workshops, make community referrals, and collect key outcomes data. 

The Breaktime model is uniquely and intentionally designed to support young adults to access high-quality, in demand job opportunities while providing them with the skills, financial knowledge, and support necessary for them to acquire long-term stable housing. 

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Cam

"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."

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Vickie

"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. 

Benefits:

  • 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 

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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

$16/hour

Paid + earning + emergency =

$10,000

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

Young Adult First

Elevating young adults' voices is a core guiding principle behind Breaktime’s work. Young adults experiencing homelessness are often silenced in their communities, but we believe in the power and potential of each young person that walks into our doors. We support young adults experiencing homelessness advocating for themselves to create change and build awareness for young adult homelessness. We use language that puts people before labels, recognizing that individuals are not defined by their experiences with homelessness. By putting people first, we show compassion, cultural acceptance, and gratitude towards each other. 

Radical Inclusion

Breaktime is an anti-racist, anti-homophobic organization constantly striving to build a Team and Board that reflect the diversity of the young adults employed in our program. Radical inclusion is “the intentional inclusion of all persons; especially people who have traditionally lived at the margins of society.” To us, radical inclusion is about creating an equitable and welcoming organization, particularly for those who are typically not included at the table. This permeates into how we make decisions at Breaktime, and we are grateful for the diverse perspectives that allow us to do so. From our Youth Leadership Board to our hiring decisions to the design of our physical space, radical inclusion is front and center in everything Breaktime does.

Collaborative Innovation
 

At Breaktime, we believe that many of the tools and resources to create transformative social change already exist, but need to be coordinated in the right way. We refrain from 'reinventing the wheel' and, instead, proactively build strong partnerships with other key stakeholders (including other nonprofits, government agencies, and funders) to more efficiently end young adult homelessness. We think boldly and creatively about what is possible then act collaboratively to get it done and are committed to continuous learning and growth. Rather than acting as a group of individuals, we work collectively as a team and elevate the unique perspectives of everyone in order to achieve our goals. We also believe that showing gratitude towards one another is essential in creating a healthy and supportive work environment, and allows us to collaborate with each other more effectively.

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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 Team

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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