To our Jumpstart community –
Since its founding almost 30 years ago, Jumpstart has stayed focused on advancing equitable learning opportunities for young children in underserved communities. We have based our work on current early childhood research and established professional practice, and our curriculum was designed to provide children with high-quality, developmentally appropriate experiences, and supportive interactions with well-trained adults. Jumpstart has a unique opportunity and obligation to ensure children experience responsive interactions with our Corps Members that nurture children’s full range of social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and linguistic abilities.
Over the past few months, we have witnessed an increase in conversations among school district leaders and state legislators across the country about limiting young people’s access to books and educational materials addressing race and centering the experiences of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities.
That is why we are reaffirming our commitment to diversity and representation in our classrooms to support the success of all children in our classrooms by upholding the value and dignity of each child and family. We will continue to celebrate the strengths, perspective, abilities, and identities of each child and make sure every child has the chance to learn, grow, and thrive in a safe and supportive environment.
Attempts to limit a child’s ability to see themselves and their families reflected in the books they read and the conversations they have with their teachers run contrary to our values and to our mission as an organization.
At Jumpstart, we know how important it is to allow young learners to explore topics such as identity and community in an age-appropriate and affirming manner and in a supportive and safe classroom environment. Especially now, when Jumpstart children and their families are experiencing many sources of stress, trauma, and grief, they need experiences that build their sense of belonging and connection.
These experiences, and diverse representation in educational materials, are crucial to the development of young children. After two years of a pandemic that took an immeasurable toll on young learners, it has never been more important to support children’s social-emotional development by empowering them to ask questions and think creatively and critically about the world around them. Attempts to limit conversations about identity only harm the families who need our support in this critical moment, especially those with children or families who currently or will identify as BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA+.
We will continue to uplift the importance of representation in education and in children’s literature by uplifting the work of BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA+ educators and authors, as we do each year for our Read for the Record campaign. We will continue advocating for representation in classrooms and on bookshelves so that every child can celebrate where they come from, who they are, and who they want to be.
At Jumpstart, we recognize the importance of supporting, not targeting or vilifying, teachers. We remain committed to supporting early childhood educators and our Corps Members’ ability to teach children in the way we know will best support young learners’ ability to learn and thrive.
Internally, we will also ensure that every staff member at Jumpstart is equipped with the training and resources that allow us to create an inclusive and anti-racist organization. We require training programming that provides tools to center diversity, equity and inclusion in our work and in the classroom. Beginning this summer, staff will participate in training sessions from the Transgender Teaching Institute that deepen our ability to create safe spaces for our LGBTQIA+ children, family and community members.
As we monitor this wave of legislation seeking to restrict curriculum in classrooms across the country, we will continue to review whether and how these laws will impact our work in classrooms nationwide and how we may be able to engage or support any actions on bills that may hinder our ability to deliver Jumpstart programs that support the whole child and how we can support any community or coalition policy actions against it.
We offer our unwavering support of educators, Corps Members, and caregivers committed to creating a world in which every child and every educator are empowered to thrive.
Chief Executive Officer
Jumpstart for Young Children
ABOUT JUMPSTART FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
Jumpstart for Young Children is a national organization based in Boston advancing equitable early learning outcomes for young children in underserved communities through direct service programming and policy advocacy. Jumpstart’s proven evidence-based curriculum serves thousands of children across 15 states and Washington, D.C., and has trained over 60,000 college students and community volunteers to deliver high-quality early childhood education programming. Learn more at jstart.org and follow us on Twitter at @Jumpstartkids.