Operation Breakthrough, Inc.
3039 Troost
Kansas City MO 64109-1540
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 756-3511
Fax 816- 329-5235
Mission Statement
Operation Breakthrough's mission is to help children who are living in poverty develop to their fullest potential by providing them a safe, loving, and educational environment. The Center also strives to support and empower the children's families through education, advocacy, referral services, and emergency aid.

Our primary goal is to ensure Operation Breakthrough becomes a center of excellence for the education of high-risk children. With this goal in mind, we continue to work on four key objectives:
  1. Provide a challenging, engaging, nurturing learning environment structured to ensure students are prepared educationally and socially to become happy, healthy, thriving citizens.
  2. Ensure great teachers in every classroom who know how to empower and support students.
  3. Provide a two-generational universal culture of support to promote family health and wellness through comprehensive wrap-around services.
  4. Ensure shared accountability across staff, students and families.
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Mary Esselman
Board Chair Ms. Karen Prange
Board Chair Company Affiliation Great West Financial
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1971
Former Names
St. Vincent's Family Service Center
Volunteer Opportunities
Ways to donate, support, or volunteer
Donations can be made on our website www.operationbreakthrough.org or by mailing a check to:

Operation Breakthrough, Inc.
3039 Troost Avenue
Kansas City, MO 64109-1540
To volunteer, contact:
Tasha Miller, Volunteer Coordinator
(816) 329-5233
For more information on donations and volunteer opportunities, please check out our website at www.operationbreakthrough.org. Your interest in our children is appreciated!
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement
Operation Breakthrough's mission is to help children who are living in poverty develop to their fullest potential by providing them a safe, loving, and educational environment. The Center also strives to support and empower the children's families through education, advocacy, referral services, and emergency aid.

Our primary goal is to ensure Operation Breakthrough becomes a center of excellence for the education of high-risk children. With this goal in mind, we continue to work on four key objectives:
  1. Provide a challenging, engaging, nurturing learning environment structured to ensure students are prepared educationally and socially to become happy, healthy, thriving citizens.
  2. Ensure great teachers in every classroom who know how to empower and support students.
  3. Provide a two-generational universal culture of support to promote family health and wellness through comprehensive wrap-around services.
  4. Ensure shared accountability across staff, students and families.
Background Statement
Operation Breakthrough grew out of the former St. Vincent's Elementary School where Sister Corita Bussanmas and Sister Berta Sailer began teaching in 1967. In response to the needs of working-poor mothers in the neighborhood, the Sisters opened a childcare center in their living room. When the Catholic Diocese closed the school and withdrew funding for childcare in 1971, the Sisters obtained Model Cities funding and incorporated as Operation Breakthrough, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation with no religious affiliation.

Operation Breakthrough now serves 290 children from 6 weeks to 5 years in full-day Head Start/Early Head Start programs and is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. An additional 140 children from 5 to 13 attend the Center's before/after-school and summer enrichment programs.

Seventy-eight percent of the families we serve are African American and 78% live below the poverty line, on incomes averaging less than $12,000 a year. Over 90% of families are headed by single women. Currently, 72% of parents are employed, but only half of those employed are working full-time; most have been at their current job for less than a year. Over 40% of families reported begin homeless/near homeless at some point in 2017. In addition to the stresses of living in poverty and single-parenting, 50% of OB parents experienced 4 or more Adverse Childhood Experiences as children, putting them -- and their children -- at high risk for maladaptive social/emotional development.

Programming has expanded over the years to empower and support both children and their families. Services for children include: play therapy and psychiatric services for children suffering from family violence or abuse; speech and occupational therapy for those with developmental delays; on-site medical and dental care; nutritious meals and violence-prevention programming to teach empathy, anger management and conflict resolution.

Services for parents include crisis counseling, case management and mental health services; a supportive housing program for those in recovery; emergency aid (including food, clothing, diapers, hygiene and household goods); rent and utility assistance; and a holiday adoption program.

Less than 40% of our annual operating expenses are funded through government sources; the rest comes from the charitable contributions of corporations, foundations and thousands of individual supporters. We also depend on the generosity of over 400 active volunteers who contribute more than 25,000 hours of service each year.
Impact Statement
Accomplishments over the past year include:
  • In Spring 2017, Operation Breakthrough embarked on a $17 million capital campaign to purchase and renovate the old Jones Store across the street from our existing facility. To-date, we've raised $16.2 million toward our goal and the new building is expected to open in August 2018. The project will allow us to serve 80 additional preschool students and 210 more school-age students and will expand physical and mental health services for both children and families at OB. The new space for Before/After-School and Summer programming will include a 'MakerCity' to give students first-hand experiences in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), as well as digital media, construction, culinary arts, textiles and studio arts. Literacy KC will become a long-term tenant in the building and provide expanded educational opportunities for OB parents and other adults in the community.
  • Operation Breakthrough has been approved for ‘Tier 3’ status by Mid-America Head Start for the new Head Start term that begins this August. Tier 3 status recognizes our ability to meet Head Start standards without requiring administrative or other supports from the regional grantee. The good news is that Tier 3 status will drive more Head Start dollars to children’s care instead of to administrative overhead.
  • For the second year in a row, more than 90% of our graduating preschoolers tested 'ready for kindergarten,' almost double the national rate for children living in poverty. Also for the second year in a row, OB school-age students scored higher in math and language arts on Achievement Series assessments than all 19 other Upper Room locations.
Needs Statement
As we near the completion of our $17,000,000 capital campaign, we are focused on increasing operating revenue to support expanded pre-school, school-age, and health & wellness programming for the long-term, when we'll be serving 370 preschoolers (0-5 year olds), 430 school-agers (5-14 years) and the children's parents and family members.
We also continue to seek funding for Social Services and Mental Health Services, two very important departments that are not funded adequately by Head Start. Our Social Services department provides families with critical support in food, housing, and employment assistance. Mental Health Services provides on-site therapeutic services to both children and adults suffering from trauma and other life-altering events.
Everyday needs include diapers, toilet paper, canned goods, gently used clothing, hygiene and household goods -- all the things families can't buy with food stamps and can't afford to buy with only part-time, low-wage job earnings.
Service Categories
Family Services
Youth Development Programs
Areas of Service
MO - Jackson County Urban Core
MO - Jackson County
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement
The history of poverty and trauma among OB families mean children are at very high risk for developmental delays and emotional/behavioral disturbance. We strive to address the needs of these children through innovative educational programming, early therapeutic intervention, and comprehensive services for the children’s families. With the staff’s tireless energy and ‘can do’ attitude, we’ve provided a safe, loving and educational environment to thousands of high-risk children over the years and given parents the tools they need to become better parents and better providers. We also advocate for programs and legislation that will improve the lives of poor children and families everywhere.

We are inspired by the children and families we serve and the daily efforts they make to overcome their living conditions. Our dream is to help children living in poverty develop to their fullest potential so they can succeed in school and become happy, healthy and productive adults.
Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Operation Breakthrough’s Early Childhood Education program provides hands-on learning experiences, supportive teacher interactions and language-rich environments for 290 children from 6 weeks to 5 years old.  Developmentally-appropriate programming is guided by Head Start and NAEYC with the goal of preparing children for success in school. The program operates weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to support parents who are working or going to school.
Our interdisciplinary model – partnering education, clinical and social services to support the whole child/whole family – is designed to ensure children’s academic success and healthy social-emotional development in a nurturing home environment. Developmental assessments are conducted twice a year so that those experiencing delays can receive early interventions as needed and that education staff can tailor instructional plans to meet each child’s needs.
Program Budget 3,800,897
Category Education, General/Other Early Childhood Education
Population Served Infants to Preschool (under age 5), At-Risk Populations,
Short-Term Success

One important short-term goal is to increase access to technology to give preschoolers a solid foundation in Science, Technology, Math and Engineering (STEM) subjects, as well as 21st Century skills, including creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking and curiosity. By introducing in-classroom technology and two purpose-building spaces -- the MakerSpace and a STEM Lab -- we aim to spur children's interest in learning and to foster a love of play, solving problems, and making something from the resources at hand. We are also increasing efforts to help parents become more actively engaged in their children's learning and committed to their success in school.

Long-Term Success
As a primary focus, Operation Breakthrough endeavors to prepare students to thrive as lifelong learners, starting with the long-term goal of every child meeting or surpassing kindergarten-readiness standards by the time they leave Operation Breakthrough.  Overall, we are committed to creating classrooms that maximize well-being, interest, inquiry and exploration -- structuring time, curriculum, and environments to provide opportunities for students to discover, learn, develop resilience, and take ownership for their learning. 

Students’ progress is tracked across 53 ‘kindergarten-readiness’ indicators in Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) assessments conducted 3 times a year. In addition, we use the Kindergarten Readiness assessment development by the Kansas City Early Learning Coalition.
Program Success Monitored By
Progress is measured against a variety of industry standards, including those established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Metropolitan Council for Early Learning, and the State of Missouri. To monitor children's academic and social-emotional development, Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) assessments are conducted 3 times a year to track children's progress in 53 developmental indicators across 7 domains.  We also conduct Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) assessments twice a year to monitor the effectiveness of the learning environment and teacher-child interactions. We also use the kindergarten-readiness assessment tool developed by Kansas City's Early Learning Coalition. 

These tools provide critical data to guide lesson planning, identify areas of concern, and show where intervention is needed.
Examples of Program Success
For two years in a row now, 95% of the preschoolers leaving for kindergarten had met or exceeded DRDP kindergarten-readiness standards. We also test preschoolers using the K-readiness assessment developed by the Kansas City Early Learning Coalition; this year's results showed 94% had met or exceeded the KCEL indicators before leaving for school.

In addition, final CLASS assessments for 2017 showed all 20 out of 22 classrooms exceeded the national average for teacher-child interactions, exceeding our goal of 19 of 22 classrooms meeting/exceeding the national mean.

The purpose of Operation Breakthrough’s School-Age program is to provide a safe environment and high-quality educational care in the out-of-school hours for 120 at-risk children from 5 to 14 years old. During the school year, the first 45 minutes after children arrive from school is devoted to homework help, reading, and math. During the summer, certified teachers from the Upper Room facilitate an intensive reading program that runs from 8:30 – 11:30 every morning. In addition, our new STEM Lab is designed to promote students’ interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects. In addition to supporting children's academic success, Operation Breakthrough is committed to enriching the lives of our children through programming that teaches self-discipline, fosters trusting relationships with peers and adults, and promotes positive character development. Mental Health and Psychiatric Services for those with persistent behavior/emotional problems are available on-site as needed by our clinical staff and/or through our partnership with Children's Mercy Behavioral Psychologists.

Program Budget 554,985
Category Education, General/Other Afterschool Enrichment
Population Served K-12 (5-19 years), At-Risk Populations, Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success

Goals, outcomes and indicators for short-term success include:

Increase the number of at-risk youth who remain in school and improve their academic achievement.
Outcome Indicators:
  • 65% of readers will be reading on grade level by the end of the program year.
  • 72% of beginning readers will reach or exceed benchmark (SS score of 560) in early literacy skills by the end of the program year.

Increase the number of at-risk youth who become positive, contributing members of society.
Outcome Indicators:
  • 80% of students will maintain an average daily attendance rate of 75%.
  • 28% of students will demonstrate improved behavior.
  • 56% of students will demonstrate increased pro-social skills.
  • 84% of students will report positive relationships with program staff.
Long-Term Success

Primary goals of the School-Age program are to:

  1. Increase the number of at-risk students who succeed in school;
  2. Graduate students who are positive, contributing members of society.

In order to achieve these goals, the program incorporates activities and services that support children’s school endeavors. The After-School program runs from 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. each weekday from September through May; the Summer program runs from 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. each weekday from June through August. Instruction and activities are tailored to each child and are intended to be flexible to allow for turbulences in family life, influences of multiple public and charter schools, and to follow the inspirations and aspirations of the individual child. A cadre of dedicated professionals, college students, retired teachers and local community leaders team up to help classroom teachers individualize instruction in math, phonics, science and reading across grades.
Program Success Monitored By
Program success is monitored by Program Coordinator Tyler Baker and classroom teachers, who track daily attendance and conduct bi-annual social-emotional assessments to determine gains/losses in character development. In addition, Upper Room teachers conduct bi-annual reading assessments, using STAR Reader, to determine each student’s reading grade level, and Accelerated Reader to measure children’s comprehension of the material they’ve read.
In addition to regular assessment of students’ individual progress, as a participant in United Way’s Quality Matters Initiative, School-Age staff complete an annual Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) evaluation each September; the YPQA evaluation includes 36 indicators covering 4 domains (Safe Environment, Supportive Environment, Interaction, and Engagement). All full-time staff also participate in on-going coaching assistance and quarterly professional development trainings/workshops.
Examples of Program Success
Assessments at the end of the 2016-17 program year (7/31/17) showed:
  • Reading on Grade - Assessments to determine reading skill level are conducted each summer by certified teachers from the Upper Room. This year’s results showed 63% of readers were reading on grade level at the end of the program, down from 78% last year. Upper Room believes the decline – seen at all UR sites – was due to changes in the KCPS literacy curriculum.
  • English Language Arts & Math -The School-Age program also conducted Achievement Series assessments in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. Post tests showed that 78% of school-age students showed proficiency in English Language Arts and 74% of students showed proficiency in Math. For the second year in a row, OB students outperformed all other 18 Upper Room program sites.
  • Attendance – average daily attendance for the school year (Aug 2016 – June 2017) was 76.6% and 78.5% for the summer session that ended July 31.
Description Our Social Services program helps families strengthen parenting skills, stabilize their home environment, and improve overall family functioning.  Four MSW-level case managers work with parents/caregivers to provide crisis counseling, housing and employment assistance, and intensive case management to help them regain economic stability.   We also provide emergency assistance to those in need, including groceries from our food pantry, used clothing, furniture and household supplies, and utility and rent assistance to families with children enrolled in the Center's educational programs.
Program Budget 432,666
Category Human Services, General/Other Case Management
Population Served Adults, At-Risk Populations, Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Short-Term Success Short-term success is based on parents/caregivers having stable income and employment; a stable home environment; improved knowledge and skills to avoid/reduce domestic violence and child abuse; and improved ability to advocate on behalf of self and child(ren).
Long-Term Success
The goal of the Social Services program is to help families live together in a safe environment and attain more stable and satisfying family and community relationships so that children have the tools and support they need to grow up to happy, productive adulthood. Long-term outcomes are: 
  1. Families have safe, sanitary housing
  2. Parents maintain employment and economic stability
  3. Families experience & perpetrate less violence, emotional abuse and neglect
  4. Family life is functional and productive
  5. Families have realistic hopes/plans for the future
Program Success Monitored By Progress is measured through attendance at classes, meetings, appointments; pre-/post child abuse prevention inventories; client satisfaction surveys; review of family contact records; for case management clients, review of progress toward goals; and skilled observation by Family Advocates, classroom teachers, and other staff. Target outcomes have not yet been set.
Examples of Program Success The best evidence of success for the Social Services program is a reduction in the number of crisis situations needing immediate intervention. Crises may involve impending loss of housing, utilities or employment; domestic violence; issues regarding custody, welfare or behavioral problems of children; depression or other mental health issues; or legal matters. Once the crisis situation has been stabilized, Family Advocates (case managers) can work with the parent/caregiver to establish short- and long-term goals and develop an action plan for meeting those goals. Progress is monitored on a weekly basis. Naturally, each client defines success in their own way, but each step is celebrated before moving on to the next goal.
Description All children receive regular exams and treatment for illness or injury in our on-site Children's Mercy pediatric clinic, along with referrals to specialists as needed. Families also receive medical education to help them make appropriate health care decisions. In addition, all children ages 3 and older receive on-site dental screenings and follow-up treatment as needed. Children needing speech therapy or occupational therapy to overcome developmental delays receive weekly on-site services, with individual treatment plans and regular assessments. Children eligible for Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) through Missouri First Steps or the local school district receive individualized case management and family advocacy surrounding special education law and policies. Families are also connected to appropriate outside service providers as needed and given high quality follow-up for services received at the Center, at school, or at home.
Program Budget 409,606
Category Health Care, General/Other Ambulatory & Primary Health Care
Population Served Families, Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent, At-Risk Populations
Short-Term Success
Short term success is based on the following indicators:
  1. The number of children receiving safety net health care on a regular, timely basis, and treatment for injuries, illness and/or developmental delays as needed
  2. Children's immunizations are up-to-date
  3. Parents/caregivers become less reliant on emergency room services for routine health care
  4. Parents attend IFSP/IEP meetings as scheduled.
Long-Term Success Children grow up healthy and cared for, and parents are empowered to be knowledgeable care providers with the skills to provide successful interventions at home.
Program Success Monitored By Children's medical records are maintained and monitored on-site by Children's Mercy Hospital personnel through the CMH data system. OB's H&D Coordinator maintains dental, vision, speech/language, physical and occupational therapy records; in addition, Speech/Language therapists, OT therapists and special school district instructors maintain progress notes on each child receiving treatment. All children who receive IFSP/IEP services are monitored by the H&D Coordinator in collaboration with local Head Start personnel and the local school district.
Examples of Program Success Operation Breakthrough's immunization rate is consistently around 98%, one of the highest rates in the city. All children -- from six weeks to 16 years old -- also receive regular exams, referrals to specialists when needed, and treatment for acute illness. In addition, all children 3 and older receive on-site dental care, and children referred for speech and/or occupational therapy receive weekly services with individual treatment plans and regular assessments. Preschool children who have been identified with an educational disability are increasingly more prepared for kindergarten and daily routine due to proactive on-site therapy and close collaboration with outside service providers.
Description Our Mental Health staff includes four play therapists who work with children dealing with issues of family violence, abuse or other trauma in individual or group play therapy sessions. Two Music Therapists provide interventions in our infant-toddler classrooms to promote self-regulation and pre-literacy skill development, and two Behavior Interventionists work with 4-5 year-olds to teach them how to manage feelings, work cooperatively with their peers, and focus their attention on learning. In addition, Behavioral Psychologists from Children's Mercy work with those with persistent behavioral programs.  Psychiatric services are also available through our tele-med link with KU Medical Center.  Children from 4 - 13 also receive Second Step bullying prevention sessions that focus on positive relationships and communications with peers .  In addition to therapeutic services for children, a full-time licensed adult therapist works with parents/caregivers in individual or group therapy sessions to provide emotional support and help alleviate the effects of chronic stress and/or unresolved childhood traumas.   
Program Budget 540,845
Category Mental Health, Substance Abuse Programs, General/other Mental Health Treatment
Population Served Families, Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent, At-Risk Populations
Short-Term Success
Program objectives are to:
  1. Ensure early detection of behavioral and mental health disorders in Center children
  2. Provide early, effective and developmentally-appropriate interventions to those in need of treatment
  3. Provide psychosocial education to all Center children to reduce risk-factors and strengthen protective factors
  4. Provide individual therapy and mental health education to mothers/caregivers to reduce mental health sympotomology and improve family functioning.
Long-Term Success
Center children will gain enhanced attachment characteristics and experiences to foster positive brain development and social emotional interactions. Those receiving treatment will demonstrate an increase in resiliency factors, be able to access positive coping skills to counter on-going trauma, and reduce the frequency of violent, dangerous or avoidant behaviors across environments. Parents in treatment will demonstrate improved coping skills, emotional stability, and enhanced self-control and self-concept.  
Our long-term goal is for parents and children to demonstrate improved global functioning in the family, at school, and in other social interactions.
Program Success Monitored By Individual client records and progress notes are maintained by staff therapists in a secure database. Measurement instruments include the DECA-C for pre-school children in play therapy; GAF for children receiving psychiatric services; Burks Behavior Scale for school-aged children in therapy; ORS and/or BECKS rating scales for adults in therapy. Progress is also monitored using teacher records and assessments, behavior incident reports, parent surveys; client self-reports, skilled observation by child psychiatrists and staff therapists, and fulfillment of program obligations.
Examples of Program Success Although an increase in clinical test scores indicates individual progress, success is defined differently for each client. It may just be that a parent agrees to treatment for their child, or that he/she shows for appointments and takes an active interest in their child's well-being. It may mean a stronger bond and more positive interactions between a child and parent. It may mean fewer family crises. It may mean that a child participates more wholeheartedly in classroom activities, or demonstrates greater respect for others, or is just more playful and lighthearted. It may mean fewer classroom disruptions or school suspensions. It may mean the ability to handle disappointment and frustration. For those receiving psychiatric services, it may mean medication fidelity. Each child and each parent is unique in the way he/she has internalized the events of the past and each one's journey to healing is unique.
CEO Comments

Operation Breakthrough continues to make progress on all program goals. We are especially happy to report that for two years in a row over 90% of preschool students leaving for school in the fall tested as ready for kindergarten! It takes many months of concentrated effort to bring students to this level of readiness, especially when over a third of our 4-5 year-olds are brand new to Operation Breakthrough when they enter in the fall. Over the past two years, we've also restructured mental health services to improve the efficient use of resources. Our new four-tiered ‘service pyramid’ is designed to provide universal prevention to encourage positive attachment to caregivers; identify children and classrooms needing additional interventions; engage children and parents in intensive mental health services when needed; and provide external referrals for children who exceed internal service capacity. The model is working well for children, staff and parents and assessment data shows that children are responding to interventions positively and in a quicker time-frame.

We are also extremely pleased that our new MakerSpace and STEM Lab continues to be received with enthusiasm. Children are having a great time taking computers apart to see how they work, building robots that work, and learning to code. The success of these spaces have served as the impetus for embarking on a $17 million capital campaign to expand STEM educational opportunities to more children. When our new 'MakerCity' opens this fall, we'll serve 210 additional school-aged children and 80 additional preschool children, bringing the total number of children we serve to 720. We'll also be expanding health and wellness programming for the children's parents and for those in the surrounding neighborhood. All in all, we are excited about the new opportunities we'll be able to offer and so pleased that the Kansas City community has showed overwhelming support of our endeavors.

Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Ms. Mary Esselman
Term Start Jan 2015
As a 25-year veteran of urban education, Mary Esselman has a wealth of experience that comes from innovating in schools.  Before joining Operation Breakthrough, she was responsible for spearheading the implementation of a variety of innovative, student-centered systems in Detroit, where she and her team worked to disrupt traditional public schooling in order to provide a prototype for personalized, blended, 21st century teaching and learning. Mary was also instrumental in obtaining three Next Generation Learning Challenge grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.   Earlier, as Assistant Superintendent of the Kansas City, Missouri School District, she was responsible for Professional Development, Assessment & Accountability.  Over the years, she has worked with a wide range of students—from pre-K up to age 20—and with educational organizations in Washington DC, Chicago, Kansas City, and Detroit.

Mary holds a Masters in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Kansas; a Masters in Educational Leadership from the University of Missouri, Columbia; a doctorate degree in Philosophy, Leadership Transformation and Organizational Renewal from the University of Missouri, Columbia; and a doctorate in Education, Educational Research and Evaluation from the University of Louisville. She’s also done course work in Education at George Mason University, the University of the District of Columbia, and at UMKC. Over the course of her career, she’s received many accolades and awards, published extensively on education systems and policy, and been a keynote speaker at numerous regional and national industry conferences.
Former CEOs
Ms. Susan Stanton Aug 2012 - Jan 2015
Senior Staff
Title Founder
Title CFO, COO
Title Director of Clinical & Support Services
Experience/Biography Debbie Starr, LSCW, is OB’s Director of Clinical & Support Services, providing clinical oversight of all Behavioral Health services and overseeing our team of clinical case managers (Family Advocates). Debbie previously served as a Family Therapist, working with both children and families to address the issues arising from experiencing trauma and the stresses of living in poverty.
Title Director of Early Learning
Title Chief Operating Officer
Paid Full-Time Staff 131
Paid Contractors 0
Volunteers 500
Retention Rate 75%
Staff Diversity (Ethnicity)
African American/Black 56
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 36
Hispanic/Latino 2
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Other (Please Specify) Other includes those who did not specify or identified as mixed race
Staff Diversity (Gender)
Female 90
Male 10
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Yes
Management Succession Plan Yes
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes

Operation Breakthrough's history of serving large numbers of high-risk children has forced us to develop innovative, cost-effective strategies and enduring partnerships with other community service providers. We've provided enhanced learning opportunities through Early Head Start/Head Start programs since 1998 in partnership with Mid-America Head Start and The Family Conservancy.

 Children's Mercy Hospital provides nurse practitioners for our on-site pediatric clinic, as well as psychological consultations for children struggling in the classroom. UMKC Dental School interns provide on-site dental care and KU Medical Center provides an on-site occupational therapist and graduate interns to treat children with delayed motor skill development. Through partnerships with KU's and UMKC's graduate programs in social work, 3-5 graduate students also complete their social work internships at OB each year, assisting families in the Food Pantry and providing support to Family Advocates.

In 2014, we expanded our collaboration with Children's Mercy Hospital to assess and develop intervention strategies for children who suffer from toxic stress and to build parents' caregiving capacity. We also work in partnership with several local emergency shelters, transitional housing programs, and health/mental health clinics to help ensure family stability during difficult times.
External Assessment and Accreditations
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) - 5 Year Accreditation2015
Community LINCPillar of Hope2005
Women's LyceumFounders' Award2005
Non Profit Professionals of the yearKC Philnet2008
Women Who've Changed the Heart of the CityCity Union Mission2010
Karen G. Herman AwardWomen's Foundation of Greater Kansas City2015
Champions for ChildrenLawyers Encouraging Academic Performance (LEAP)2016
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the government? Yes
CEO Comments
The Senior Management team consists of the Chief Executive Officer; Chief Operating Officer; Chief Financial Officer; Director of Early Learning and the Director of Clinical & Support Services. Key management goals are to:
  1. Provide a challenging, engaging, learning environment structured to ensure students are prepared educationally and socially to become healthy, happy, thriving citizens.
  2. Ensure there are great teachers in every classroom who know how to empower and support students.
  3. Provide a two-generational universal culture of support to promote family health and wellness through comprehensive wrap-around services.
  4. Ensure shared accountability across staff, students and families.

The organization is frequently inspected and assessed by a variety of entities throughout the year, including Head Start, NAEYC, state licensing, fire and health departments. There were no significant findings and actions were taken to immediately address two minor concerns.
Board Chair
Board Chair Ms. Karen Prange
Company Affiliation Great West Financial
Term Nov 2014 to Oct 2020
Email kfprange@gmail.com
Board Co-Chair
Board Co-Chair Mr. Jack Kilroy
Company Affiliation Polsinelli
Term Nov 2014 to Oct 2020
Email jkilroyjr@polsinelli
Board Members
Mr. Kevin Boyer Ernst & Young
Mr. Chace Brundige Waddell & Reed
Ms. Joan Cohen JKC Consulting, LLC
Ms. Tammy Ham BioNovus Innovations
Mr. Kevin Harris Jata Holdings LLC
Ms. Judith Heeter Pathfinder Consulting
Ms. Gayle Hickman Spring Nextel Corp
Ms. Diana Keating Hallmark Inc.
Mr. Jack Kilroy Posinelli
Mr. K.C. Mathews UMB
Ms. Katie McDonald KCP&L
Mr. Ramsey Mohsen Everhance, LLC
Ms. Donna O'Malley PhD.Children's Mercy Hospital
Ms. Karen Prange Lockton
Mr. Michael Roane JE Dunn Construction
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 3
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 12
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 7
Female 8
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 81%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 10
Standing Committees
Board Governance
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Communications / Promotion / Publicity / Public Relations
Advisory Board Members
Erin Brower
Don Gallagher
Jeff Ganaden
Elizabeth Healey Liza
Dan Krejci
Bryan Love
Quinton Lucas
Jody Luce
Matthew Montgomery
Kathy Murdock
Monica Murdock
Dallas Polen
Mary Steeb
Elizabeth Sterling
Mary Sweat
Catina Taylor
Stacy Van Der Tuuk Benson
Richard Ward
Hugh Wooden
CEO Comments

Since its founding over 4 decades ago, Operation Breakthrough has grown in complexity and in the number and range of services rendered. The agency is governed by a 15-16-member Board of Directors. In addition to an Executive Committee, the Board’s standing committees include: Executive, Finance & Audit, Fund Development, Communications & Public Relations, Governance & Membership. The Board meets 10 times/year and holds an annual planning retreat every February. The CEO, CFO and COO attend all Board meetings, but are not voting members. The organization has a Conflict of Interest Policy and strongly believes in transparency.

Fiscal Year Start Nov 01, 2017
Fiscal Year End Oct 31, 2018
Projected Revenue $9,599,558
Projected Expenses $9,599,558
Form 990s
2017 OBI 990
2016 OBI 990
2015 OBI 990
2014 OBI 990
2013 OBI 990
2012 OBI 990
2011 OBI 990
2010 OBI 990
2009 OBI 990
2008 OBI 990
Audit Documents
IRS Letter of Exemption
Foundation Comments
  • FYE 10/31/2017, 2016, 2015: Financial data reported using the IRS Form 990.
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201720162015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$2,454,842$4,085,663$3,275,243
Individual Contributions------
Investment Income, Net of Losses$30,521$70,210$8,008
Membership Dues--$0$0
Special Events$1,139,095$1,394,428$1,134,315
Revenue In-Kind$15,000$11,444$40,500
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201720162015
Program Expense$6,882,000$6,451,552$6,085,287
Administration Expense$1,206,842$1,241,947$1,077,546
Fundraising Expense$527,270$591,145$459,587
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses2.181.031.04
Program Expense/Total Expenses94%78%80%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue4%8%6%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201720162015
Total Assets$25,460,862$17,103,462$16,802,491
Current Assets$14,281,954$6,917,726$6,469,456
Long-Term Liabilities$993,898$0$0
Current Liabilities$718,064$665,190$636,949
Total Net Assets$23,748,900$16,438,272$16,165,542
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities19.8910.4010.16
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets4%0%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201720162015
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountAnonymous $500,000Individual Donor $200,000 --
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount --Burns McDonnell $160,000 --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount --Individual Donor $147,605 --
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? Yes
Campaign Purpose

Operation Breakthrough's $17 million capital project includes the purchase and renovation of the old Jones Store located on the NW corner of 31st & Troost, directly across from our existing. Renovation is well underway and scheduled for completion by the start of the next program year beginning August 13. Facility and program expansion will allow us to serve an additional 80 preschool children and 210 school-age children; add a Health & Wellness Center for community residents under the direction of Children's Mercy Hospital/OB Clinic personnel; add a gymnasium for children's indoor sports; and include a warehouse to store furniture and other donated goods for easy distribution to OB and other families. Literacy KC will become a long-term tenant in the space to bring new and expanded adult educational programs to our families and area residents. We are pleased to report that to-date we've raised $16.2 million toward our $17 million capital goal.

Goal $17,000,000.00
Dates Sept 2017 to Sept 2019
Amount Raised to Date 16200000 as of May 2018
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years No
Organization Comments

Audited financial statements for FY 2017 (ending 10/31/17) showed operating revenues of $9,293,929 and expenses (including depreciation) of $8,829,363. Operating reserves are currently $3,471,458.64.

Other Documents
Annual Report2013View
Annual Report2012View
Annual Report2011View
Organization Name Operation Breakthrough, Inc.
Address 3039 Troost
Kansas City, MO 641091540
Primary Phone (816) 756-3511
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Mary Esselman
Board Chair Ms. Karen Prange
Board Chair Company Affiliation Great West Financial
Year of Incorporation 1971
Former Names
St. Vincent's Family Service Center