Dr. Joseph I. Castro

“Universities, through our education and our service, can play a role of transforming communities. And Jumpstart, through its strategic focus, really capitalizes on that.”

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.


Cal State–Fresno President and Jumpstart board member Dr. Joseph I. Castro still recalls first meeting the “superstars with the red shirts” at his son’s preschool on campus at the university’s Huggins Center. “I always think of that moment because of how powerful the connections [between members and preschool children] are and how this program is preparing a new generation of leaders in education and other fields,” Dr. Castro said.

As Cal State–Fresno president, Dr. Castro has seen first-hand the “transformational” impact Jumpstart has had, but he knows this impact goes far beyond Fresno State.

Dr. Castro’s extensive career in higher education—which includes service as a professor and Vice Chancellor at the University of California, San Francisco as well as faculty and leadership positions across the University of California system—began as a first-generation college student who is the grandson of farmworkers from Mexico. “My own life was transformed by my university education,” he said. Dr. Castro earned his bachelor’s in political science and went on to earn his master’s in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley and Ph.D. in higher education policy and leadership from Stanford University.

At the core of his work is reflecting on the development of young people. To this end, Dr. Castro considers Jumpstart a key aspect of the Fresno State student experience. In addition to serving as powerful role models for preschoolers all around the country, Dr. Castro notes that the Jumpstart experience also provides an important lens through which members can assess their interests and motivations. “In terms of our students’ own development, [the experience] helps to clarify their thinking about what they want to do in their career. And I know many of them go on to teaching, and that is such a powerful contribution.”

“…this program is preparing a new generation of leaders in education…”

Dr. Castro shared that Cal State Fresno’s values—diversity, distinction, and discovery compliment Jumpstart’s impact, which is why his participation on the board was a natural extension of his current work. Through Jumpstart, he says, “We serve our young students, give them a chance to connect with our college students, and create a strong community of leadership through service by sharpening members’ own views about what they can do—about what’s possible.”

“Universities play such a powerful role in our society,” Dr. Castro said, noting the impact of education within the Central Valley area that Fresno State serves. The Central Valley area is one of the most underserved in the country and is facing significant challenges.

With a significant number of graduates remaining in the local Central Valley area upon graduation, Dr. Castro said the impact elevates “the entire region economically and socially.” He added, “That’s how we make positive change everywhere.”

“Universities—through our education and our service—can play a role of transforming communities. And Jumpstart—through its strategic focus—really capitalizes on that,” Dr. Castro said. “Large numbers of Jumpstart graduates from Fresno are going into teaching as powerful educators that lead by inspiring others to follow their dreams.”


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

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