Waterford.org, a Utah-based early education nonprofit that works to advance universal literacy, has announced a $9 million investment to launch the Waterford Upstart Summer Learning Path in nine states.
To that end, the Summer Learning Path, a condensed standards-aligned version of the organization's at-home kindergarten readiness program, will be introduced in Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, and Texas to help prepare fifteen thousand at-risk children for kindergarten this fall. Starting June 1, the program will support students and families who have been impacted by COVID-19, either economically or as a result of pre-K and Head Start closures.
While the so-called summer slide is an annual concern for educators, many fear a COVID-related summer cliff this year, as tens of thousands of students find themselves shut out of their classrooms for up to six months, assuming that schools reopen in September. With funding from The Studio @ Blue Meridian, the Valhalla Charitable Foundation, and the Overdeck Family Foundation, Waterford is working with nonprofit and public-sector partners, including Head Start programs in Mississippi and Miami-Dade County, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, New Mexico state representative Mimi Stewart, and the Children's Movement of Florida, to identify at-risk children and families in each state to participate in the program.
"Early education setbacks can have a significant effect on a child's future life and career outcomes. It is also always more difficult to catch a student up than to provide a strong foundation from the beginning," said Waterford CEO Benjamin Heuston. "With COVID-19 exacerbating inequity and resource disparities among our communities, it's critical that we come together and act now to prevent thousands of four-year-olds from entering kindergarten unprepared this fall."