Emily Haber

“I think having those young, college corps members bring their enthusiasm to those little children has been critical for so many children in the state over the last 25 years.”

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.

Emily-Haber-circle-crop

For the past 11 years, Emily Haber has served as CEO of the Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA), a private nonprofit focused on volunteerism within the Commonwealth and Jumpstart’s very first (and longest!) standing source of AmeriCorps funding.

It’s this special relationship between MSA and Jumpstart that gives Emily Haber a broad context from which to understand Jumpstart’s work. Emily recognizes that the level of support young children in high-need preschools throughout the state are receiving at a critical time in their development helps establish a strong foundation for all of their learning going forward. She says, “I think having those young, college volunteers bring their enthusiasm to those little children has been critical for so many children in the state over the last 25 years.”

While AmeriCorps is a network of programs that engages nearly 75,000 Americans each year in service to meet critical needs across the nation, MSA is the organization that administers funding from the federal government’s Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to AmeriCorps programs within the Commonwealth.

Thinking about those college students who dedicate a significant portion of their week to serving preschoolers—beyond the time they need to do their coursework and fulfill their commitments on campus—instills in Emily a strong sense of hope for the future. In a given year in Massachusetts, there will be upwards of five or six hundred AmeriCorps members serving through preschools.

“I loved knowing that children across the country were being led through the same high impact and literacy-loving activities during the same week by Jumpstart AmeriCorps members. That sense of care and consistency is so powerful.”

Emily appreciates the scaling effect that national service helps make possible, too. “The collective power of those enthusiastic, committed young people bringing their love of learning to that next generation of children—I think that multiplier effect is so inspiring,” Emily says.

A few years ago, Emily had the opportunity to visit a Jumpstart classroom and watch the AmeriCorps members in action as they led the children through activities grounded in that week’s curriculum book. Visiting a college in Washington DC with her son a few days later, the two of them stopped for lunch in the college dining hall. At the next table sat one of the students from that college, wearing a red Jumpstart t-shirt and working on her lesson plan for the same book Emily had just seen used in the Jumpstart classroom back in Massachusetts.

“I loved knowing that children across the country were being led through the same high impact and literacy-loving activities during the same week by Jumpstart AmeriCorps members. That sense of care and consistency is so powerful.”

Looking ahead 25 years from now—if Jumpstart is still necessary—Emily says she hopes that every child who would benefit from extra attention at that critical, early time in their academic development will have a Jumpstart member supporting them.

Emily also hopes that Jumpstart’s powerful influence on its student members will continue. She believes there is great value in the opportunity Jumpstart offers college students to discover a way they can serve. Over the years, Emily says she has had many conversations with Jumpstart volunteers and alumni who said their experience in a Jumpstart preschool classroom led to a change in direction and to their work in early childhood education.

“We always talk about serving in AmeriCorps as being both about what the service does for the community in which you’re serving but also what it does for yourself. And I think that Jumpstart is such a well-run and thoughtful program. It is always thinking about both how you support the members and then put them in a place where they can really support the children.”

Emily believes volunteering with Jumpstart has the chance to instill an ethic of service that members can take in many different directions after they finish their Jumpstart term and their education and go out into the world. Thanks to the opportunity Jumpstart offers, Emily says, “You’ve got thousands of people who are now running around all over the United States, and probably the world, doing incredible things.”

 

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.

Donate Now