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Social Capitalists: Jumpstart

43 entrepreneurs who are changing the world
2007 Social Capitalist Winner

Jumpstart

Boston, MA
Year founded: 1993
CEO: Rob Waldron
www.jstart.org

Jumpstart is working toward the day every child in America enters school prepared to succeed. This national early education organization was founded on the belief that all children--regardless of social or economic circumstance--enter the world with potential and deserve an equal chance for success in school and in life. At 64 sites in 19 states across America, Jumpstart brings at-risk preschoolers together with caring adults (primarily college students) through year-long, one-to-one relationships to build literacy in combination with social and emotional readiness. Working alongside families and communities, Jumpstart addresses the economic, educational, and social problems associated with school readiness.

Mission

The statistics are alarming. Today, one in three children in America enters school unprepared to learn. In many of America's cities, this number is as high as 50%. This crisis is largely due to disparities in early learning experiences--on average, a child entering kindergarten from a middle-income background has received up to 1,700 hours of one-to-one reading time while a child from a low-income background has received only 25. Not surprisingly, by first grade the vocabulary of middle-income children is four times greater than their low-income peers. With time, this gap only continues to widen. That's why Jumpstart connects with children early to instill a lifelong love of learning and set them on track for success.

Jumpstart's unique program builds school success for young children, inspires college students to become future teachers and leaders in education, and engages families and communities in their children's early learning experiences. All of these elements are echoed in the story of Jennifer, a former Jumpstart Corps member who is now a third-grade teacher in Boston. Not long ago, Jennifer reunited with her Jumpstart partner child, Cheri, who Jen had mentored years ago while a junior in college. When Jennifer first met Cheri, she was significantly behind her peers, barely able to use words. At this reunion, however, Cheri's father was thrilled to tell Jennifer that his daughter, now nine, had just won the mayor's award for outstanding academic achievement. He thanked Jennifer for supporting and guiding Cheri, but Jennifer insisted that she should thank Cheri, her inspiration to teach in the Boston Public Schools.

Strategy

Jennifer and thousands like her help Jumpstart address America's education crisis through a three-pronged strategy: reduce the early education gap, transform school systems, and create a pipeline of qualified teachers. Jumpstart Corps members provide each child with up to 300 hours of one-to-one reading time and individualized attention over the course of a school year. Corps members also support the teachers in their child's classroom, improving the student/teacher ratio at 225 preschools nationwide. Through intense, yearlong training, Jumpstart equips and inspires college students to become teachers and advocates for early education.

Impact

Today, nearly 12,000 children benefit from the 3,100 Jumpstart Corps members engaged in service. Jumpstart has grown an average of 30% annually since 2000, while also reducing the cost to serve each child. This efficient growth has led to significant regional and national impact. Jumpstart's Corps has increased the number of adults serving low-income four-year old preschoolers by 5% nationwide, and as much as 70% in cities such as Boston and San Francisco.

Annual evaluations demonstrate Jumpstart's clear impact. Jumpstart children make statistically significant greater progress in school readiness skills than children who are not enrolled in Jumpstart. Lauded by Harvard Business School for performance measurement, Jumpstart assesses its impact on each child touched and will continue to do so until every child in America is entering school prepared.

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