Breaking Down Walls

Gary Jimenez joined the Jumpstart family in 2009 as the executive director of Jumpstart in Southern California.

It’s hard to believe, but my three-year anniversary at Jumpstart is really here. It’s pretty amazing how much we’ve accomplished in such a short time, and I’m proud of the unbelievable progress we’ve made bringing Jumpstart to more and more children in Southern California.

I remember one of the first things I did after taking the helm in our regional office was bust through one of the walls to create more space for our growing team. I like to think that breaking down that wall to expand our office is a reflection of Jumpstart’s continued growth. We’re growing our partnerships with local education and philanthropy leaders, we’re growing the number of college students and community volunteers we engage in meaningful service, and of course, we’re growing the positive impact we have on young children every day in the classroom!

I think the idea of growth touches nearly every aspect of the work we do. And growth is at the heart of education, which is without a doubt my biggest passion. As a first-generation college graduate, I believe that education transforms lives, families, communities, and society-at-large. That’s why I love Jumpstart. We’re transforming the lives of children at such a critical time, and we’re engaging adults—many who are first in their families to attend college—helping them turn a cycle of poverty into a cycle of success.

I’d like to share one story that I think really showcases how the magic of Jumpstart endures long after our Corps members leave the classroom. I recently heard from one of our Community Corps members that she prepares and practices upcoming Jumpstart sessions with her grandchildren. She applies techniques for engaging children in literacy, sharing lessons from Jumpstart with her family.

I think back to breaking down that wall in our Los Angeles office three years ago, and I can’t help but smile. Our incredible Corps members are doing some rebuilding of their own, bringing Jumpstart far beyond the four walls of the preschools we serve. Now if you ask me, that’s impact. And it’s what motivates and inspires me each and every day.

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