“Jumpstart helped me realize that what I need to be doing throughout my career is giving voice to those who may not have a voice, or shining light on those who may go unseen.”
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.
Raymond Buford was first introduced to Jumpstart in 2008, when he entered California State University Northridge as an early education major program and the director of the program encouraged him to apply to Jumpstart as a volunteer. Once Raymond joined, he quickly realized Jumpstart was a program he wanted to be a part of. He served in as many roles as he could: classroom volunteer, team leader, and program coordinator—and he credits Jumpstart with helping him find his purpose in life.
“Jumpstart helped me realize that what I need to be doing throughout my career is giving voice to those who may not have a voice, or shining light on those who may go unseen,” Raymond says. “Experiencing our students’ growth from the beginning of the year to the end encouraged me to come back year after year after year with a purpose.”
After graduating, Raymond briefly worked as a preschool teacher’s assistant in an affluent community. Feeling as though he was not fulfilling his purpose, he remained in that position for about a year before returning to Jumpstart, where he had formed a strong attachment to the community he was serving. “I loved how the program strategically engaged volunteers and brought them together to feel connected. I felt so connected to the other volunteers that I was serving with. I felt connected to the preschool partners, I felt connected to the outside community, and most importantly, the students.”
In 2014, Raymond returned to Jumpstart as a site manager in Los Angeles. The next year he was promoted to senior site manager. He says, “Helping facilitate the program—I was really able to see the impact that Jumpstart has on the community and it made me realize that I had made the perfect choice in 2008.”
“There is no other program out there like Jumpstart. Jumpstart is able to engage college students or other community volunteers in supporting preschool children. I think that makes Jumpstart one of a kind.”
Raymond believes “there is no other program out there like Jumpstart. Jumpstart is able to engage college students or other community volunteers in supporting preschool children. I think that makes Jumpstart one of a kind. The work that Jumpstart does is so necessary in ensuring that our students not only get the necessary tools for educational success, but also grow into adults that will later be encouraged to give back to their community because someone gave back to them.”
Looking ahead, Raymond hopes that the specific work Jumpstart is currently doing will no longer be needed, but that Jumpstart is able to expand its program and scale its impact to every single under-served community classroom or preschool classroom. He says, “We need to ensure that all of our children, no matter what part of the U.S., no matter what part of the globe, have access to high-quality education early on. The time that Jumpstart is reaching students is the most important time.”
These days, Raymond is creating safe places for sixth grade students to learn and grow in Houston, Texas.
“I teach sixth grade science here, and Jumpstart inspires me to advocate for those who may not have a voice, or may go unseen. I encourage my students to advocate for each other. When they see someone that is in need of support, I encourage them to speak up for them or to give them that hand that they need to help lift that other person up.”
Some quotes have been edited and condensed for length and clarity.