Only one in three children in America enters kindergarten with the skills needed to excel. The disparities are particularly shocking in low-income communities, where an average child has experienced only 25 hours of one-to-one reading before first grade. In middle-income communities, that number is as high as 1,700 hours. “There is a defined achievement gap in America. As advocates for children, it’s our job to make sure our government officials are working to close that gap by supporting programs such as Jumpstart,” stated Dr. George Askew, Jumpstart’s chief executive officer.
The achievement gap only widens as children get older, which is why early intervention, such as the one-to-one relationships between Jumpstart’s college student mentors and at-risk preschoolers, is crucial to solving this issue. By bringing their stories – and the story of Jumpstart – to Capitol Hill, Frank and Stone are making the case for the importance of quality early education for every child in America.
Jumpstart URI is in its fourth year. Currently 64 students are in the program, serving five preschools in Rhode Island: CANE Child Development Center and A Place to Grow; both in Wakefield; South County Community Action, Head Start, in Westerly; In Town YMCA Kids World in Providence; and Providence Head Start McMichael’s Center.
The URI students know the pressing need firsthand. Both served as AmeriCorps members and are still working with Jumpstart.
“Being involved in Jumpstart has been one of the greatest experiences of my college career, by far,” says Frank, a senior secondary education major who has been with Jumpstart for three years as the volunteer coordinator working at five URI Jumpstart sites. “Not only have I had the opportunity to witness the impact that this program has on our partner children, but also I have been fortunate enough to watch the program expand in a way that benefits children throughout the state. By talking to our government officials and sharing our experiences, we hope to continue making an impact on more and more preschoolers in Rhode Island and the rest of the country.”
“It is amazing to witness the kind of impact we can have on the lives of these children,” says Stone, a sophomore who is majoring in elementary education. She was a Jumpstart Corps member who at “A Place to Grow” as a freshman. This year, Stone is team leader for the CANE Child Development Center. “Hopefully we can raise awareness and support so we can influence even more children in the future.”
Frank and Stone are part of Jumpstart’s national corps of more than 3,100 college students. Each week, these college students work one-to-one with at-risk children and assist in the classrooms of low-income preschool centers to build the vital language, literacy, and social skills children need to succeed in school and in life.
The program is currently recruiting URI students to serve for the 2007-08 academic year. For more information you may contact Lynne Finnegan 401-874-2090, email@example.com or Bailey Thaxton at 401-277-5280, firstname.lastname@example.org
URI student Hillary Frank. URI News Bureau Photo by Michael Salerno Photography.
URI student Meggin Stone (left) at a Jumpstart site. Photo courtesy of Meggin Stone.