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Corduroy Campaigns to Promote Early Education

By Tom Watson on October 1, 2008No Comment

A five-year-old child from a low-income background has one-fourth the vocabulary of his or her mid-income peers.  And half of all first-graders from low-income families are up to two years behind their peers in preschool skills.

In order to draw national attention to the importance of early childhood education, Jumpstart is organizing the world’s largest shared reading experience.  The nonprofit, educational organization is aiming for a world record of having the most children reading the same book with an adult on the same day, October 2.  The event is part of Jumpstart’s annual Read for the Record Campaign, and its official 2008 campaign book is Corduroy, the endearing story of a teddy bear’s adventures in a department store.  A special edition of the book features an introduction and request for support by Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera of NBC’s TODAY Show and a foreword by honorary spokesperson LL Cool J.

At the conclusion of this classic children’s book, Corduroy’s owner lovingly sews a new button onto his overalls and tells him, “I like you the way you are, but you’ll be more comfortable with your shoulder strap fastened.”  Jumpstart offers the same care and consideration to children.  They will be more comfortable and capable in their future academic careers if they are provided with the right opportunities at a young age, including access to age-appropriate literature and time with caring adults.

Jumpstart’s program model facilitates year-long, one-on-one relationships between at-risk preschool children and volunteers ages 18-23 who serve 8-10 hours each week at the preschools.  It also continues the learning relationship at home by donating books and reaching out to the children’s families to promote active learning.  For example, the special Jumpstart edition of Corduroy includes a vocabulary list and activities that connect to the story.  Extensive research shows that early intervention promotes crucial brain development, and the program builds the vital literacy, social, and emotional skills that children need to thrive.

The program is results-driven and measures the children’s progress.  Jumpstart developed an assessment tool that shows progress in both conventional skills (literacy and language acquisition) and intangible ones (self esteem, productive social interaction, and initiative).  Allen Grossman of Harvard Business School advocates, “Jumpstart defies the stereotype that nonprofits cannot measure what they do and sets a standard for the nonprofit sector.”

The Read for the Record Campaign has its own record of success.  Since it began two years ago, 250,000 books have been donated and over $2 million has been raised to support Jumpstart.  Each year even more children and adults participate by reading together.  The website offers information on participating and supporting the campaign.

The program has grown to serve over 50,000 children nationwide and has been named one of the top charities in the country by Monitor Group and Fast Company’s Social Capitalist Awards.  During the 2007-2008 program year, Jumpstart is serving 13,000 children across 20 states, in partnership with 300 early learning centers and nearly 70 universities and colleges.  Through its partnerships, Jumpstart inspires children to learn, adults to teach, families to get involved and communities to work together.  Jumpstart is working toward the day every child in America enters school prepared to succeed.

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