Mission: To provide language, literacy, and social-emotional programming for preschool children from underresourced communities and promote quality early learning for all.
About the Organization: Founded in 1994 by four college students, Jumpstart for Young Children envisions an America where every child enters kindergarten prepared to succeed. To date the organization has trained more than forty-five thousand college students and community volunteers — "corps members" — who have served a hundred thousand children. With educational equity at the core of its vision, Jumpstart works with institutions of higher education, community organizations, Head Start programs, community-based preschools, and school districts to create solutions for closing the readiness gap.
Current Programs: Designed to build the skills that are critical to language, literacy, and social-emotional development, the organization's curriculum focuses on vocabulary, comprehension, knowledge of the alphabet, writing, and phonemic and rhyme awareness and is currently offered in fourteen states and the District of Columbia through Head Start programs, community-based classrooms, and public school pre-K. Volunteers receive extensive training as well as ongoing coaching and commit to serving at least two hundred hours per school year. A recent study found that children who participate in the Jumpstart program achieved 1.5 times the gains in critical literacy skills than children who do not, and that 91 percent of participants made gains in language and literacy skills.
Jumpstart's annual Read for the Record campaign brings together schools, libraries, community centers, and families for a shared reading-out-loud experience via the Internet. The organization provides activity sheets, reading guides, and other resources for the selected book. Jumpstart also is piloting a number of new initiatives, including literacy-based texting programs, summer sessions, and partnerships with local housing authorities.
In addition, the organization mobilizes its alumni network to advocate for changes in education policy aimed at ensuring that high-quality early childhood education is available to every child — and as the most effective way to disrupt the cycle of persistent poverty. The organization's policy principles call for a professional, stable, and well-compensated early education workforce; affordable higher education that incorporates workforce training opportunities; and a commitment to national service.
Website: Visitors to the Jumpstart site can learn about the organization's program, its impact, volunteers, and the Read for the Record campaign; find out where the Jumpstart program is offered; and/or browse partner colleges and universities, programs, and school districts. College students can apply to become a college corps member, a team leader, or a volunteer coordinator, while non-students can apply to become a community corps member. Visitors also can learn how to get involved by attending an event, advocating for early childhood education, and/or making a donation.
Funding: Jumpstart for Young Children is funded by individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies.