How Cornelius Brown Is Inspiring Philadelphia’s Next Generation

17 August, 2021
Principal Cornelius Brown is a board member of Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia


Growing up as a minority from an underserved community in Philadelphia, Principal Cornelius Brown, PE got to where he is today by acting on the opportunities he was given. Now with a successful land development career, he’s taking advantage of a chance to create opportunities for others. As a board member of Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia, he’s empowering other students like him to identify their career path.

Breakthrough provides supplemental education for disadvantaged minority high school students. The program prepares students to succeed at competitive high schools and colleges. Guest speakers present on topics that range from careers to critical life skills like personal finance to electives like crochet. (See a news clip about them here.)

Cornelius recently gave a presentation to the students, focused on inspiring an interest in land development. The students were able to see firsthand what a career in land development could look like. For many of the students, it was likely their only opportunity to learn about civil engineering and the land development industry. For Cornelius, it was a meaningful way to educate about the field and influence diversity in STEM.

Even more powerful, Cornelius shared, “I see myself in these kids. It’s important to me that they can relate to me and see an example of what they can go on to achieve. By sharing with them my journey, my hope is that I was able to inspire someone to identify their career path and have a more direct route to success.”

As a board member, Cornelius attends regular meetings and has helped plan several events to raise money for the organization. He first became involved with Breakthrough over a year ago at the prompting of a client-turned-friend. At the time, he wasn’t looking to get involved in volunteering, but the mission of the organization attracted him. On what inspired him to say yes, he said, “Not everyone gets the opportunities I was given when I was younger. This is a chance to give back and make a difference in the community.”

Through this presentation and his involvement in Breakthrough, Cornelius is making a difference by advancing land development education and influencing future diversity in STEM fields.

Cornelius also had a message for others interested in making a similar impact: “We can do something just by talking about it. There are a lot of ways to get involved; the art is in the start.”

About Breakthrough

Breakthrough increases educational opportunity by focusing on the development of both students and teachers. Through academic enrichment and college access, Breakthrough prepares students who have limited educational opportunities to attend and succeed at competitive high schools and, ultimately, to envision themselves at four-year colleges. Simultaneously, Breakthrough develops future educators by providing professional teaching experiences to college students through its selective residency programs.

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