Operation Breakthrough, Inc.
3039 Troost
Kansas City MO 64109-1540
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. 

CEO/Executive Director Ms. Mary Esselman
Board Chair Mr. Kevin Boyer
Board Chair Company Affiliation Ernst & Young
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1971
Former Names
St. Vincent's Family Service Center
Financial Summary
Projected Revenue $8,054,363
Projected Expenses $8,054,363
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. 

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 at 31st & Paseo.  When the Catholic Diocese closed the school in 1971 and withdrew funding for childcare, 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 266 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 110 children from 5 to 13 attend the Center's before/after-school and summer enrichment programs.


Eighty percent of the families we serve are African American and over 79% live below the poverty line; 95% of families are headed by single women. Currently, 75% of parents are employed, but 61% of have been at their current job for less than nine months and 46% are only working part-time. The average income for working families is $1,524 per month. Over 20% of families experienced homelessness/near homelessness at some point in 2015.


In addition to educational care, programming has expanded over the years to include a broad range of supplemental services to empower and support the 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.  Over 30% of parents have experienced 4 or more adverse childhood experiences, nearly 3 times the rate of all U.S. adults, putting children at high risk for the long-term negative effects of trauma and toxic stress.


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.


With an annual operating budget of $8 million, only 36% of operating expenses are funded through government sources; the rest comes from the charitable contributions of corporations, foundations and thousands of individual supporters.
Impact Statement

Last year, the OB board established a primary goal: Ensure Operation Breakthrough becomes a center of excellence for the education of high-risk children.  With this in mind, new CEO Mary Esselman, PhD, identified key areas for improvement.  Some of the key action steps completed in 2015 include: 


  • Secured 5-year NAEYC re-accreditation
  • Increased access to technology through the MakerSpace, iPads and laptops
  • Piloted KC Readiness assessment developed by KC’s early learning coalition
  • Secured Ready for Kindergarten grant for parent education
  • Equalized staff salaries and brought instructional staff to within 90% of KC-metro rates
  • Added 67 hours of Professional Development to calendar
  • Formed the Partnership for Resilient Families with Children’s Mercy Hospital to ensure the integration of health, mental health, social services and educational services
  • Created a Community Action Board (comprised of parents, community volunteers, CMH, and OB staff) to guide program development & implementation
  • Secured funding to create a data warehouse/dashboard system to provide real-time data on child, program and agency outcomes.


Goals for 2016 include:

  • Increase individualized support through personalized learning paths for each student
  • Build student portfolios to demonstrate proficiency in 21st Century skills (communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking)
  • Complete STEM Lab for preschoolers and school-age students
  • Train volunteers to provide targeted assistance to children not yet meeting K-readiness standards
  • Restructure parent/teacher conferences to better support educational goals
  • Complete blended professional development course and establish observation/feedback cycles
  • Complete phase one of data warehouse/dashboard system


In addition, beginning July 1, Operation Breakthrough will assume responsibility for operating the childcare program at DeLaSalle Education Center, located just down the street at 3737 Troost Avenue. The program serves infants and toddlers of teen parents attending DeLaSalle. The collaboration will give those families the full benefit of Operation Breakthrough’s high quality early learning program, as well as access to our health, behavioral health, social services and parent programs.
Needs Statement

  1. Our greatest need is to find funding to replace ever-diminishing support from government sources.  We continue to serve families who are no longer eligible for state aid because they have exceeded time limits, are homeless or unemployed, or whose wages exceed income limitations but are not enough to cover childcare while they work. 
  2. 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.
  3. We also seek to engage the broader community in creating more meaningful employment opportunities for our parents. Sr. Berta's 100 Jobs program tries to find employers willing to provide on-the-job mentoring to help mothers with little work experience overcome the many barriers to sustainable employment, from transportation and childcare issues to mastering new technology and honing customer service skills. Currently, 22 parents are employed through the 100 Jobs program.
  4. 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
Children's and Youth Services
Youth Development Programs
Areas of Service
MO - Jackson County
MO - Jackson County Urban Core
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.  Nearly 100 need treatment for speech and language delays, which are often the result of literacy-poor home environments where kids do not have exposure to books or adults who will read to them, due in part to family instability and parents' low educational levels.  Speech and language delays are also indicative of – and contribute to – poor bonding between parent and child.  Sensory integration issues, often related to fetal drug or alcohol exposure, are also disproportionately represented at OB, with over 150 children receiving treatment last year.  In addition to developmental delays, 71 children are receiving individual treatment for emotional/ behavioral disorders related to trauma and toxic stress. 


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. It is our dream 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 266 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 years.  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. Comprehensive 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 $3,054,645.00
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-built 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, this year we will also use the Kindergarten Readiness assessment under 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 childrens' progress in 53 developmental indicators across 7 domains, including Approaches to Learning - Self Regulation, Social & Emotional Development, Language & Literacy Development, Cognition, including Math and Science, Physical & Health Development, History & Social Science, and Visual & Performing Arts.  
We also conduct Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) assessments twice a year to monitor the effectiveness of the learning environment and teacher-child interactions.  This year, we also piloted the kindergarten-readiness assessment tool developed by Kansas City's Early Learning Coalition and will continue with the refined version once completed and released.  
These tools provide critical data to guide lesson planning, identify areas of concern, and show where intervention is needed.
Examples of Program Success
 Mid-year (Feb 2016) DRDP assessments showed 50% of Early Ed children (0- 5) had mastered kindergarten-readiness standards and another 43% were ‘on track,’ up from last fall when 31% had reached mastery and 51% were on track. Similarly, the KC Early Learning Coalition’s kindergarten-readiness assessment, piloted in February with 4- and 5-year olds, showed 55% had reached mastery and 28% were on track.

CLASS assessments, measuring the effectiveness of the classroom learning environment and teachers’ interactions with children, are conducted 2 times a year; the Spring 2016 round is currently underway and results will be available in June.

In addition to standard assessments, Operation Breakthrough also completed several important tasks over the past 12 months, from the creation of our new MakerSpace to a total revamp of classroom environments, introduction of new programs and resources for parents, and extended professional development opportunities for teaching staff. We are also working on a new data warehouse/dashboard system that will help us track outcomes on a real-time basis.


The purpose of our School-Age program is to provide a safe environment and high-quality educational care in the out-of-school hours for 112 at-risk children from 5 to 13 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.  Other activities are designed to promote students’ interest in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art + Design, 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 tele-med connection with KU Child Psychiatrists.

Program Budget $875,986.00
Category Education, General/Other Afterschool Enrichment
Population Served K-12 (5-19 years), At-Risk Populations, Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Short-Term Success

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

 1)  Increase the number of at-risk youth who remain in school and improve their academic achievement.

Outcome: Enrolled students’ academic performance improves.

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.

 2)  Increase the number of at-risk youth who become positive, contributing members of society.

Outcome: Enrolled students gain positive social-emotional skills.

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 Enrichment program runs from 7:00 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

Program results for the 2014-15 program year included:

• Average daily attendance during the school-year was 82.6%, above target and up from the prior year’s rate of 74%. Average daily attendance during the summer session was 90%, up from last year’s 86.4% rate for summer.

• 60% of readers were on grade-level at the beginning of the summer session; by the end of the course, 73% were reading on grade-level, an increase of 13%. Although still less than our target, grade level reading has improved remarkably since we first began tracking grade-level reading and had only 12% on grade at the start of the program and 23% by the end.

• Results of social-emotional development assessments showed a 0.5 increase since January 2015, meaning that out of a perfect score of 40, children’s scores averaged 34.7, up from 34.2 in January.

• Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) observational checklists showed gains of +15 for Teacher Reflection, +11 for Creating Child-centered spaces, +10 for Planning and +9 for School-Age Choice, indicating solid improvement in four key areas.

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 $432,666.00
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 $409,606.00
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 $540,845.00
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; and, 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

I’m pleased to report that the Operation Breakthrough Board voted unanimously at its March meeting to partner with De LaSalle High School (“DLHS”) to operate their onsite early learning center. A part of our strategic plan 3 years ago was to consider expanding our reach via multi-site locations, however it been cost prohibitive up to this point due to the facility costs that we would incur. Because DLHS already has a great space for early childhood learning, Operation Breakthrough will be able to operate the center in a cost effective manner, taking our expertise at learning and wrap-around services with us. Not only will we be able to take care of a certain number of DLHS students’ children, it will allow us to serve up to 14 additional children from our waiting list. While there are still many details to work out, this is a great opportunity to expand our reach in the community, and will give us an opportunity to take care of additional children in the same loving and nurturing manner as we do at 31st & Troost. 


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.

Co-CEO/Executive Director
Term Start
Compensation Last Year
Former CEOs
Ms. Susan Stanton Aug 2012 - Jan 2015
Senior Staff
Title Founder
Title CFO, COO
Title Director of Clinical Services
Title Director of Early Learning
Paid Full-Time Staff 109
Paid Part-Time Staff 38
Volunteers 500
Paid Contractors 1
Retention Rate 34%
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 Under Development
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 and Children International provide nurse practitioners for our on-site pediatric clinic and HOPE Dental provides on-site dental care.   KU Medical Center provides psychiatric services through a tele-med link with KU child psychologists, as well as an on-site occupational therapist.  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 also began a new collaboration with Children's Mercy Hospital to assess and develop intervention strategies for children who suffer from toxic stress.  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 CEO, the CFO/COO, the Director of Early Learning and the Director of Clinical & Social 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 Inspections.  In all cases, there were no significant findings and actions were taken immediately to address minor concerns.

Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Kevin Boyer
Company Affiliation Ernst & Young
Term Nov 2014 to Oct 2018
Email kevin.boyer@ey.com
Board Members
Mr. Kevin Boyer Ernst & Young
Mr. Chace Brundige Waddell & Reed
Mr. Jeff Chadiha ESPN
Ms. Joan Cohen JKC Consulting, LLC
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
Ms. Mary Lewis Sprint Nextel Corp
Ms. Betsy Loomer Commerce Bank
Mr. K.C. Mathews UMB
Ms. Katie McDonald KCP&L
Mr. Ramsey Mohsen Everhance, LLC
Ms. Donna O'Malley PhDChildren's Mercy Hospital
Ms. Karen Prange Great West Financial
Mr. Michael Roane JE Dunn Construction
Mr. Tray Vedock SKC Communications
Mr. Joe Whisler Cooling & Herbers, L.P.
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 3
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 16
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 10
Female 9
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 No
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 10
Standing Committees
Advisory Board / Advisory Council
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Board Governance
Strategic Planning / Strategic Direction
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 16-20-member Board of Directors.  In addition to an Executive Committee, the Board’s standing committees include:  Finance, Audit, Personnel, Development, Strategic Planning, Membership and Governance.  The Board meets 10 times/year and holds an annual planning retreat every February.  The CEO and CFO 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, 2015
Fiscal Year End Oct 31, 2016
Projected Revenue $8,054,363
Projected Expenses $8,054,363
Form 990s
Audit Documents
IRS Letter of Exemption
Foundation Comments
  • FYE 10/31/2014: Financial data reported using the IRS Form 990.
  • FYE 10/31/2013, 2012:  Financial data reported using the organization's audited financial statements.  
  • 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 Year201420132012
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$2,041,679$0$0
Individual Contributions--$0$3,057,397
Investment Income, Net of Losses$3,648$0$1,461
Membership Dues$0$0$0
Special Events$775,801$1,401,613$1,015,872
Revenue In-Kind$44,585$0$0
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201420132012
Program Expense$5,594,035$5,285,412$5,934,504
Administration Expense$844,366$1,023,150$934,958
Fundraising Expense$416,909$431,352$477,924
Payments to Affiliates--$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.191.340.94
Program Expense/Total Expenses82%78%81%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue5%5%7%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201420132012
Total Assets$16,351,740$14,961,991$12,846,795
Current Assets$5,825,105$3,288,251$1,569,082
Long-Term Liabilities$0$6,515$28,406
Current Liabilities$501,261$436,847$587,607
Total Net Assets$15,850,479$14,518,629$12,230,782
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities11.627.532.67
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201420132012
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountDavid W. Kemper Memorial Foundation $250,000 -- --
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountIndividual Donor $200,000 -- --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years No
Organization Comments

Audited financial statements for FY 2015 (ending 10/31/15) show revenues of $8,061,079 and expenses (including depreciation) of $7,768,427.  Higher than planned revenue allowed us to:  1) increase teacher pay scales to bring OB to 90%  of the Kansas City market rate to encourage staff retention;  2) add 10 part-time paraprofessionals in pre-k  classrooms to improve teacher:child ratios; and 3) expand the number of days devoted to professional development to continue building staff qualifications/capacity.   In addition to these improvements, we continue to build operating reserves; as of December 31, 2015, reserves totaled $2,965,220.   

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 Mr. Kevin Boyer
Board Chair Company Affiliation Ernst & Young
Year of Incorporation 1971
Former Names
St. Vincent's Family Service Center