Rob and Jennifer Waldron

“By providing high-quality early education in underserved communities, Jumpstart is helping to democratize the early education landscape and transforming lives and communities for generations to come.”

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.

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Over the course of an organization’s history, there are often individuals who find themselves called upon to make a variety of contributions, who provide different kinds of support as the organization grows and evolves, tapping their own broad range of skills and assets to do so. For Jumpstart, husband and wife Rob and Jennifer Waldron are quintessential models of this type of adaptive, deeply invested contributor.

The Waldrons first came to Jumpstart in 2002, when Rob was brought on as CEO. “We were inspired by Jumpstart’s mission to promote educational equity through early education for every child and admired the organization’s innovative approach to meeting the needs of the nation’s youngest learners.”

Rob served as CEO through 2006 and, through his leadership, doubled the organization’s size during his tenure. In 2006, Rob stepped out of his role as CEO, and spent the next decade serving as a member of Jumpstart’s National Board of Directors.

In 2008, Jennifer first began working as a development consultant for Jumpstart, helping to inspire crucial investments and expand Jumpstart’s networks of support. “The program’s impact is so clear: you can measure it and the return is certain. So, whereas in other investments it might be harder to articulate or harder to capture, Jumpstart’s data is strong, the case is clear, and we can articulate it well,” she said.

Like Rob, Jennifer later shifted to a board role, where she helped to guide and steer the organization from her position on Jumpstart’s Northeast Advisory Board.

When asked what inspired them to serve Jumpstart for so many years, the Waldrons quickly pointed towards the organization’s record of efficacy, growth, and impact. “Jumpstart has figured out how to deliver high-quality education to young children in a cost-efficient, replicable way,” they said. “We have seen firsthand the impact these programs have had in improving life outcomes for kids and families across the country.”

Rob and Jennifer believe wholeheartedly in the importance of Jumpstart for the nation’s children. They also recognize the ways that Jumpstart has impacted them personally. Rob noted, “Understanding the importance of reading and having conversations with my children at an early age made me a better parent. You can bet I read to my young children every night!”

He added, “My involvement with Jumpstart also helped me become a better leader. As a non-profit leader, I had to find donors, collaborate with universities, and inspire college volunteers to serve… I had to work a whole lot harder, leading with empathy and helping partners both understand our mission and find fulfillment in aligning their values and resources with ours. Turns out, it works better to lead in this way!”

“We continue supporting Jumpstart because we believe its work is critical in helping close the kindergarten readiness gap,” said Jennifer. “Every child deserves the chance to succeed, and if our donations can help Jumpstart reach even one more child, it’s all worth it.”

Rob and Jennifer’s passion for improving the world of education expands beyond Jumpstart. For the last ten years, Rob has served as CEO of Curriculum Associates, the nation’s fastest-growing K–12 education publishing company, serving over 8 million students and educators. Jennifer recently served as the Senior Director of Advancement at uAspire, a nonprofit that helps students find affordable paths to higher education.

Through their efforts to lead and inspire change across the field of education, Rob and Jennifer have stayed closely connected to Jumpstart and keenly invested in the organization’s progress and success. In 2018, the couple donated $5 million to Jumpstart — a game-changing contribution and the largest gift in the organization’s history.

“Thanks to the Waldrons’ extraordinary generosity, Jumpstart will be able to reach exponentially more children through innovative models of program delivery, to shape the early education workforce by inspiring future educators and supporting existing teachers, and to drive policy changes to ensure that high-quality early education is available to all children,” shared Naila Bolus, President & CEO of Jumpstart.

“We continue supporting Jumpstart because we believe its work is critical in helping close the kindergarten readiness gap,” said Jennifer. “Every child deserves the chance to succeed, and if our donations can help Jumpstart reach even one more child, it’s all worth it.”

In Jumpstart’s 25th year, the Waldrons are proud to be so deeply connected to an organization that is tackling one of our country’s largest challenges. “In our world today, there are so many problems that we don’t know how to solve. Early education is not one of those,” Rob said. “Through our work with Jumpstart and Curriculum Associates, we’ve seen education’s ability to change trajectories, especially when high-quality support is provided at a young age. Jumpstart’s mission to help learners at this developmentally critical time is transforming lives. We want to see this program continue to spread to communities everywhere.”

 

Some quotes have been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Together, we can help all children build the key language and literacy skills they need to take on the world.

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