“It’s amazing to me to look at Jumpstart now and see that there are 50,000 alums spread out across the country, helping raise up the importance of early learning in their own ways. It’s so exciting to see the organization continue to grow and thrive.”
Throughout 2019, in honor of Jumpstart’s 25th Anniversary, we will be highlighting 25 Faces of Jumpstart. This campaign celebrates the wide variety of people who have played a major role in Jumpstart’s history — our founders, volunteers from Jumpstart’s past, Jumpstart children and their families, influential donors and supporters, and more. We cannot wait to share their stories with you — how they helped shape and grow Jumpstart into what it is today, the impact that Jumpstart has had on their own lives, and their vision for the next 25 years of Jumpstart.
When Vanessa Kirsch founded New Profit in 1998, she had a vision to shape the future of philanthropy and catalyze a diverse, new generation of social entrepreneurs. Early on in her role as New Profit’s founder and CEO, Vanessa met with Aaron Lieberman, one of Jumpstart’s founders, for a strategy session about how to scale the promising early education organization. She was so inspired by Aaron’s vision that she promptly joined Jumpstart’s National Board as its Founding Chair and went on to serve on the board for nearly a decade.
Vanessa felt strongly about the way that Jumpstart engaged college student volunteers to reach young children. What seemed like a simple idea had the potential to create a lasting impact — for both the college students and the young children they served. “I have built my career around helping young people realize their full potential, no matter where they come from, so Jumpstart’s mission captured my imagination,” said Vanessa.
As a burgeoning venture philanthropy organization and one of Jumpstart’s first funders, New Profit has grown alongside Jumpstart and ignited the ability to dramatically increase social impact for countless organizations — primarily those involved in education. Over the years, Vanessa’s passion has earned her a host of accolades, including being listed among The NonProfit Times’ Power & Influence Top 50, Boston Magazine’s Most Powerful Boston Philanthropists, and Inside Philanthropy’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Philanthropy. In 2002, she was selected by Forbes as one of 15 People Who Will Reinvent Your Future.
“In addition to driving concrete results for young children, I’m inspired by Jumpstart’s deep, dedicated work to bringing new and diverse talent into the early learning field.”
Even with these accomplishments, Vanessa’s strong affinity for Jumpstart still endures more than 20 years later. “It’s amazing to me to look at Jumpstart now and see that there are 50,000 alums spread out across the country, helping raise up the importance of early learning in their own ways. It’s so exciting to see the organization continue to grow and thrive,” Vanessa continues.
One of the things that inspires Vanessa most about Jumpstart is that its impact on college student volunteers does not end after their year of service. Through their experience with Jumpstart, volunteers acquire valuable workforce skills and experience first-hand the rewards of working in the early education sector. “In addition to driving concrete results for young children, I’m inspired by Jumpstart’s deep, dedicated work to bringing new and diverse talent into the early learning field.”
The love that Vanessa shares for children and educational equity has fueled her support for Jumpstart year after year. “One of my strongest beliefs is the idea that every child deserves a chance to thrive in America, regardless of the zip code they were born in. The only way to get there is to focus on outcomes for kids, and measure and build upon them.” This, Vanessa explains, has been one of Jumpstart’s strengths in its first 25 years. “The organization has done a great job in keeping focused on the future, adapting, and strengthening its results.”
With this strong background and model for success, Vanessa knows that the next 25 years will hold even more great accomplishments for Jumpstart. Her vision for the organization is simple: “I hope to see Jumpstart continue to lead the early learning field, carry it into the future, and grow and touch the lives of more children and families.”
Some quotes have been edited and condensed for length and clarity.