Operation Breakthrough: Serving Children of KC’s Urban Core


When I set out to write a book about the lessons learned as the President of City Wide and as a father of three daughters, I wanted the proceeds to support a cause related to raising great kids. Operation Breakthrough, which is located in my hometown of Kansas City, was the perfect choice because helping children thrive is their #1 goal every day.

Operation Breakthrough’s Mission: To help children who are living in poverty develop to their fullest potential by providing them a safe, loving and educational environment.

A History of Service

Operation Breakthrough is one of the largest single-site early education childcare and social services facilities in the state of Missouri. The center serves more than 400 children daily from its location in Kansas City’s urban core. In addition to providing early education child care, Operation Breakthrough also strives to support and empower the children’s families through advocacy, referral services, ongoing parental education, and emergency aid.

Nationally accredited, Operation Breakthrough is a not-for-profit corporation that was started in 1971 by Sister Corita Bussanmas and Sister Berta Sailer as a response to requests from parents in the central city for quality childcare for children of the working poor. The Center began with 50 infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. In 1976, it expanded to include before and after-school child care. In 2006, Operation Breakthrough increased its licensed capacity from 353 children to more than 500 as part of a major renovation effort. The center is currently located at 31st and Troost in mid-town Kansas City, where it has operated since 1981.

In 2010, Sister Berta was honored by The Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation as its Woman of the Year, a foundation that honors women in leadership. Sister Berta is a bit of a bulldog, said Greater Missouri board president Carol Wilke. She knows what needs to be done and will stop at nothing to ensure it happens.

“This is a very economically segregated city,” Sister Berta says in a recent newsletter, “People need to meet our mothers, and they need to meet our kids. We have to change people’s notion of poverty in this city. We’re going to do it with bus tours and volunteer opportunities. It’s part of our responsibility as an agency.”

The Hardest Job in the World

Who has the hardest job in the world? It isn’t the President of a company or even the President of the United States. I firmly believe that single working parents have the hardest job to do raising children without many resources or the support that most families take for granted makes raising children by yourself an overwhelmingly difficult responsibility. Single parents (usually mothers) are more likely to live in poverty, and have trouble finding and keeping steady jobs due to the stresses and obligations of caring for children.

According to the American Psychological Association the education that poor, urban students in public schools receive is demonstrably insufficient to make them competitive with their middle and upper income peers. Centers such as Operation Breakthrough are crucial for the growth and development of these children.

Make A Difference For KC’s Children

In my experience, successful children are genuinely good, ethical, serving people. They are strong, resilient, caring, thankful, happy, and filled with hope. They feel loved and can love. They have a deeply ingrained sense of self-confidence, a respect for life, and have the ability to become actualized adults. Operation Breakthrough is a nurturing and safe environment that provides children in our urban core with the experiences they need to become adults with all of these qualities.

I hope you’ll join me in supporting Operation Breakthrough so Sisters Berta and Corita and all their dedicated staff can continue their great work and benefit families in Kansas City for many years to come. You can show your support by making a financial contribution, volunteering, or donating goods. And of course, when you buy my book, The 10KIDmandments, you’ll be getting parenting information on how to go from “good to great” and supporting Operation Breakthrough…a win-win!

What’s your favorite organization serving your community? Share by tweeting @JeffOddo!