By: Erik Martinez
Jumpstart Alum, UCLA 2012-2016
During the season of giving, I often find myself reflecting on the many experiences that helped shape who I am today. Jumpstart always comes to mind as it was pivotal to my development while at UCLA. Throughout my four years in Jumpstart, I served as a Corps Member, Team Leader, and finished my final year as the Volunteer Coordinator.
What started as a work-study position quickly transformed into my passion project. Every moment I had to engage with our partner children was another opportunity to help close the kindergarten readiness gap and equip them with the skills necessary to succeed. It was not until after I graduated that I realized how much of an impact Jumpstart had on me personally and professionally.
[Jumpstart] provided me with a supportive group of peers who would later go on to become some of my best friends.
Jumpstart provided a platform to develop my leadership skills and helped me create a special community on campus. It acted as a catalyst for my success and enabled me to become a better leader by strengthening my soft skills, showing me how to serve with compassion. Throughout the years, I developed meaningful relationships with colleagues who were also mission-driven. It provided me with a supportive group of peers who would later go on to become some of my best friends. As a first-generation college graduate, these relationships were significant in helping me move forward in my own educational pathway.
As a Jumpstart alum, I see myself as an ambassador for early childhood education because I believe a quality education serves as the building blocks for future success. I continue to stay involved with Jumpstart through advocacy and philanthropy because I experienced first-hand the impact we can make in the lives of the children and communities we serve. Philanthropic support is critical as it provides opportunities and supports endeavors current Jumpstart volunteers are pursuing in their classrooms. It is important to reflect on our accomplishments thus far, but we must never forget our commitment to ensuring every child has a fair chance to succeed.
Whether volunteering your time, sharing a post, or making a gift of any size, we each have the power to pay it forward.
I encourage my fellow Jumpstart alumni to each do our part in building a culture of generosity. Whether volunteering your time, sharing a post, or making a gift of any size, we each have the power to pay it forward. I give not only to support the professional development of Jumpstart volunteers, but also to support the children we serve who will eventually go on to become the next generation of community leaders. There may be no better investment that we can make in the future for equal opportunity.