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Social Capitalists: Jumpstart

43 entrepreneurs who are changing the world
Social Capitalist 2008 Winner


James Cleveland, president
Boston, Massachusetts
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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.

The Program

Jumpstart engages preschool children from low-income communities in an intensive early education program to improve their cognitive and emotional development, ensuring they enter kindergarten prepared to succeed at grade level. The organization’s foundation is its research-backed curriculum, active learning approach, and one-to-one adult-child interaction. Jumpstart trains adult mentors, primarily college students, to work in exclusive yearlong relationships with the children. By providing children with undivided attention, reading with them, and working with them on academic and social skills, Jumpstart mentors increase children’s vocabularies, enhance their ability to read and learn, and improve the quality of their social interactions by the time they enter kindergarten.

Since 1993, thousands of Jumpstart mentors have helped more than 50,000 children from low-income communities around the country enter school ready to learn at grade level. When children start on track with their peers, they are far more likely to succeed academically, which can lead to greater career opportunities and the potential for lifelong achievement. By infusing children with a love of learning, Jumpstart sets them up for lives that will be rich in education and expectation.

During the 2007-2008 school year, Jumpstart is serving over 13,000 children in partnership with 300 Head Start programs and other early learning centers in 20 states across the nation. Your support helps us to grow, and continue to make a bigger and bigger impact on the early education gap facing our nation.

Early Education in America

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 first grade from a middle-income background has a vocabulary of 20,000 words while a child from a low-income background has a vocabulary of only 5,000 words. 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.

Changing Lives... One Child at Time

Jumpstart's unique program builds school success for young children, putting them on track to succeed. This is echoed in the story of Jennifer, a former Jumpstart Corps member who is now a third-grade teacher in Boston. Jennifer recently 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.

The one-to-one impact is clear, but so are the national results. Annual evaluations demonstrate that Jumpstart children make statistically significant greater progress in language, literacy, and social 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.