A Year of Exploration
During the 2015-2016 program year, Jumpstart served 11,300 children—1,000 of whom participated in pilot, innovative, and summer programs. From literacy-based texting programs and summer sessions to workforce pathways initiatives and partnering with local housing authorities, the Jumpstart network was alive with creative strategies that enabled us to serve even more children this year.
Arizona Workforce Development
Jumpstart’s workforce development program in Arizona helped improve teacher quality by offering early educators a series of resources: training in classroom management and developmentally appropriate practice, professional coaching and support, a pathway to educational advancement, and access to Jumpstart’s evidence-based curriculum. By improving the quality of early childhood education in low-income communities, Jumpstart’s multifaceted workforce development program is helping to close the kindergarten readiness gap for children.
Curriculum Revisions Pilot
Last year, we piloted a revised curriculum with 230 children in Massachusetts. The pilot focused on providing meaningful, enriching oral language experiences — including deliberate attention paid to children’s emotional language skills, such as labeling and understanding feelings. While the overall philosophy and organization of our curriculum remain unchanged, the pilot tested a variety of new session elements: adding time for reading extension and group meetings, introducing five new books with strong emotional content, and experimenting with new language-based activities such as Vocabulary Bingo and Feelings Go Fish.
Initial findings from the use of the revised curriculum were positive. Not only did children demonstrate significant language gains, but our Corps members also responded positively to the new language and social-emotional focus. We look forward to expanding our curriculum revision pilot and discovering new techniques and approaches to help level the playing field for all children.
READY4K! Texting Program
This year, Jumpstart families were invited to participate in READY4K!, a research- and standards-based program that uses text messaging to share information about getting your child ready for kindergarten. Families receive three text messages each week with tips and activities designed to help them more effectively support the development of their children’s school readiness skills, such as literacy and math, at home. This program began as a collaborative partnership between Jumpstart, Stanford University, and San Francisco State University.
Public Housing Initiative
In order to reach children that were not enrolled in preschool, Jumpstart partnered with Urban Edge, a community development organization in Boston, to implement a bold two-generational literacy strategy. While Corps members worked with children to develop crucial language and literacy skills, their caregivers participated in adult education seminars on topics such as parenting, self-care, and financial literacy. Through this initiative, both children and their families were given opportunities to not only develop their lifelong love of learning, but to also be equipped with skills to set them all on a new path to success.
Jumpstart’s Summer Program
This summer, while most kids were on break, hundreds of children in Boston, New York City, and Chicago participated in Jumpstart’s summer program. Children from low-income neighborhoods tend to fall further behind their more affluent peers over the summer because they’re less likely to be enrolled in activities that provide additional instruction. Jumpstart’s summer sessions were designed to create a seamless continuum of learning between school years, helping ensure that children gain and maintain key literacy skills.