“Over these 25 years, Jumpstart volunteers have impacted the lives of hundreds and hundreds of ABCD’s Head Start children and staff with their enthusiasm, love, and talent. Jumpstart has had an incredible influence on our children’s experience, growth, and self-esteem.”
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.
Sharon Scott-Chandler is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), one of Jumpstart’s longest-standing partners. ABCD is a nonprofit that provides services to more than 100,000 low-income residents in the Greater Boston region every year, including serving as the main provider of Head Start programming for the city. In addition to her role at ABCD, Sharon has served as a gubernatorially-appointed member of the Massachusetts Board of Early Education & Care for over 10 years. We sat down with Sharon to discuss her experience with Jumpstart at ABCD and the two organizations’ long history of community service together.
How have you been involved with Jumpstart over the years?
ABCD has been involved with Jumpstart since the beginning, and I have had the privilege of being connected with Jumpstart through my time here at ABCD over the last 20 years.
The Jumpstart program and its relationship with ABCD Head Start has evolved over the years and continues to do so each year in the classroom. In the early days when we were expanding Jumpstart within our own program, we were learning from each other about how to most effectively do the work. It is not always easy to integrate another program into an established program, but we were able to do it smoothly because the missions, commitment, and view on children’s learning are so aligned.
How did ABCD first start its partnership with Jumpstart?
Head Start is always looking for ways to enhance its programming to children through innovative partnerships, which is how we saw Jumpstart. With our regular programming, teachers in the classroom cannot give this type of one-to-one or small group reading and literacy support to each child, so it made perfect sense to bring Jumpstart in to add this kind of value to what we were already providing.
What I don’t think anyone expected was the uniqueness of the impact, which went beyond preparedness related to literacy. Jumpstart helps our children build self-esteem and excitement, and it builds attachment to the young adult volunteers who bring a huge amount of energy and positivity to children’s lives in the classroom.
“In addition to helping build literacy one child at a time by supporting their skills and their love of reading and learning at the most critical age, Jumpstart is also providing young children with college student role models, some of whom look like them, showing the possibilities for their future.”
What do you think Jumpstart brings to ABCD and the communities you serve?
Over these 25 years, Jumpstart volunteers have impacted the lives of hundreds and hundreds of ABCD’s Head Start children and staff with their enthusiasm, love, and talent. Jumpstart has had an incredible influence on our children’s experience, growth, and self-esteem.
Our ABCD Head Start Education Coordinator, Jamie, used to tell the volunteers that once they put on their red Jumpstart shirt, they are like a superhero. Their identity has changed from a college student or a community member to “Jumpstart,” a name that all children scream with excitement when they see their Jumpstart friends walk into the classroom. Once they see how excited their children are about Jumpstart, many parents adjust the pick-up time for their children on Jumpstart days to make sure they can experience the full program!
Why do you believe the work that Jumpstart is doing is important?
Jumpstart’s work is important on so many levels. In addition to helping build literacy one child at a time by supporting their skills and their love of reading and learning at the most critical age, Jumpstart is also providing young children with college student role models, some of whom look like them, showing the possibilities for their future. It also builds interrelated understanding between diverse communities by exposing college students whose backgrounds may be different from those growing up in low-income urban areas.
Much of Jumpstart’s impact is intangible and cannot be captured by data, such as the joy and inspiration the program brings to all the people it touches.
What is one word you would use to describe Jumpstart’s impact over the past 25 years?
It is hard to describe Jumpstart’s impact in one word because that impact has been multi-faceted – it’s been inspirational, resourceful, effective, unique, appreciated – the list goes on!
What do you hope Jumpstart can accomplish in the next 25 years?
Hopefully Jumpstart would be able to expand to every state in the country. It is a model that is both inspirational and effective in what it does. It would also be nice to see how Jumpstart can encourage and attract even more participants to become early childhood educators and stay in the field long term, facilitating further education and professional career growth.
Some quotes have been edited and condensed for length and clarity.