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Our Story

Breaktime's Origin

Breaktime Co-founders Connor Schoen and Tony Shu

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 a unique model of supported transitional employment. 


Tony Shu and Breaktime Associate
Breaktime Co-founders Connor Schoen and Tony Shu at a pitch competition


Breaktime launch event
Breaktime and The Cape Verdean Association in Boston


Breaktime fighting food insecurity in Boston


Breaktime Associate working at ABCD food pantry
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu at Breaktime
Young adult in our employment program in Boston


Breaktime Co-founders Connor Schoen and Tony Shu
Connor and Tony.jpg

Connor and Tony meet while volunteering at Y2Y Harvard Square Shelter and learn about the struggles of obtaining employment many young adults experiencing homelessness face. 

Connor and Tony develop a pilot program for Breaktime Cafe- a cafe aimed to employ young adults experiencing homelessness 

Breaktime is officially incorporated and receives its first grants.

First young adults complete pilot program of operating a local catering business. 

Breaktime receives its official 501(c)(3) status.

Breaktime signs lease for 170 Portland Street space.

Breaktime holds kickoff celebration and first design workshop. 

Construction for the Cafe begins. 

Outbreak of COVID-19 halts construction of Cafe. Breaktime launches the Double Impact Initiative to employ young adults experiencing homelessness prepare and serve meals to those experiencing food insecurity as a result of the pandemic. 

25 jobs created for young adults experiencing homelessness, 650,000 meals served to those experiencing food insecurity.

Connor and Tony are recognized as Forbes 30 Under 30 for Social Impact.

Breaktime develops new program model to partner with local nonprofits and small businesses to support staffing needs while employing young adults experiencing homelessness.  This allows Breaktime to provide transitional employment opportunities across all industries.

Breaktime develops Policy Team and begins working with legislatures to create effective policy change for people experiencing homelessness. This new team quickly and effectively mobilizes over $25,000,000 in federal funding for Massachusetts-based youth employment programs like Breaktime. They also work with the Massachusetts state legislature to expand the definition of “youth” from “up to age 21” to “up to age 25,” to ensure a broader array of young adults are supported under the state’s youth employment work.

60 young adults are employed and empowered through Breaktime's program.

25 jobs created for young adults experiencing homelessness, 650,000 meals served to those experiencing food insecurity.

Breaktime begins placing Associates who did not finish high school at training programs for the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET). This expands Breaktime’s worksite partnerships to include education/training partners in addition to nonprofits and small businesses.

Breaktime’s work receives national media attention with a feature on CBS Evening News.

Breaktime receives a historic $1,000,000 grant from the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation to support its statewide expansion efforts

Breaktime launches its statewide expansion effort by expanding to the Metro North region–which includes Cambridge, Somerville, Everett, Chelsea, and 16 other municipalities north of Boston.

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