Mission: To bring the best aspects of learning science, mentoring relationships, and innovative technologies together to create community, school, and home programs that deliver excellence and equity for all learners.
About the Organization: Founded as the Waterford Institute in 1976 by Dustin Heuston, an educator who believed every child is entitled to lifelong learning success, Waterford.org believes that the coordinated support of parents, teachers, and mentors provides students with the ambition and resilience they need to reach their full potential. Launched in 2009, Waterford UPSTART is an online kindergarten-readiness program for four-year-olds designed to deliver significant and lasting academic achievement gains. In 2019, the program was a recipient of an Audacious Project grant.
Current Programs: Launched in Utah with the support of the Utah state legislature, Waterford UPSTART today is available in more than fifteen states and serves over three hundred thousand children. The program combines computer-based instruction with personalized support from family education liaisons, who monitor students' progress and empower parents as their children's first teachers. Qualifying families are invited to attend a local Waterford UPSTART event, where their children are assessed and provided with a computer and Internet access at no cost (if needed). Children then spend fifteen minutes a day, five days a week, using the online program to boost their readiness for kindergarten, with frequent check-ins with and mentoring support from the organization.
Website: Visitors to the Waterford.org website can learn more about the lack of equity in access to early childhood education, the UPSTART program, and/or the families that have benefited from the program. Interested families can register for the program, get help on how to use it, browse education-related resources, keep up with news in the field, and/or learn more about how they can support the organization.
Funding: Waterford.org is supported by individuals, foundations, corporations, and government agencies.