At the end of each day in 600 preschool classrooms across the country, our 4,300 dedicated Corps members wrap up Jumpstart sessions by engaging children in what we call Sharing and Goodbye. It’s a time to share what everyone has learned and a special moment to celebrate the day’s victories, big and small. In the spirit of Sharing and Goodbye, I want to share a few of the incredible milestones Jumpstart has reached this year as we say goodbye to 2012 and look forward to the year ahead. I can think of no better way to share these successes than through the lens of Jumpstart’s five core values: learning, joy, determination, connection, and kindness.
Learning is at the core of Jumpstart’s work. This year we strengthened our foundation by continuing to ensure our curriculum and service model is as responsive to the children we serve as possible. We piloted initiatives allowing our proven program to reach more children through family childcare partnerships. With the establishment of Jumpstart’s National Early Education Council, we also assembled an esteemed group of early education experts to inform our program and guide our future work in the classroom.
“I like reading because it has a special feeling in my heart.” These were the words of four-year-old Ariella at this year’s Jumpstart’s Read for the Record® celebration. We experienced this same joy countless times over as we connected a record-breaking 2.3 million adults and children with Jumpstart’s mission and shined a national spotlight on the importance of high-quality early education.
Transformation requires determination. This year, we witnessed the power of determination as we identified innovative approaches to grow and scale our program and break the link between a child’s zip code and his or her future. Through a collaborative partnership with the state of Arizona, we explored new ways to support preschools in high-need communities. We also established meaningful partnerships with higher education partners in the state of Mississippi. For Jumpstart, the result of growth accomplishes three goals: it equips more children with the essential skills they need to succeed in kindergarten; it gives more caring adults the platform to become educators; and it drives policy change that encourages the creation and expansion of high-quality early education.
Our current and past Corps members are the heart of Jumpstart. On a daily basis, they turn passion into action by engaging in millions of hours of service to make a lasting impact on the lives of children in low-income neighborhoods. They represent a pipeline of future leaders in early education, and this year we fostered greater connection than ever before through the impressive growth of the Jumpstart Alumni Network. Now in its second year, our alumni program has provided former Corps members with career development resources and networking and leadership opportunities. We’re proud to engage our alumni on an entirely new level, keeping them connected to the mission that inspired them to serve.
Working toward the day every child in America enters school prepared to succeed is a monumental task, and we rely on the kindness and generosity of our communities every step of the way. Individuals demonstrated an unwavering commitment to our cause at our Scribbles to Novels galas, including our first this year in Washington, DC. We also welcomed the Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation to the Jumpstart family as our newest national sponsor and we were continuously humbled by the kindness and support of all our partners, including AmeriCorps, and more.
Our core values keep us grounded and guide our strategic decisions, ensuring that we stay focused and always put children first. 2012 has been an astounding year for Jumpstart, and we could not have touched the lives of so many children and volunteers without your support. We look ahead with enthusiasm and optimism to 2013 – our 20th year of service to young children. Our 20th Anniversary marks a major new chapter in the Jumpstart story. With your support, we plan to seize the opportunity to renew our commitment to one simple idea: every child deserves the chance to succeed.
All the best for a healthy and prosperous 2013.