Waterford.org believes while every individual has the capacity for growth at every stage of life, childhood academic experiences are uniquely critical for setting a lifetime learning trajectory.
In Philadelphia, nearly two-thirds of children cannot read at grade level by the fourth grade, a challenge made worse by a shortage of pre-kindergarten program access. Thanks to philanthropic support and a local partnership with Read by 4th, Waterford.org delivered Waterford UPSTART at no cost to families in the community, including Kimberly Johnson and her 5-year-old son, Kingston.
Waterford.org believes the thoughtfully coordinated support of parents, teachers, and other mentors gives students the ambition and resilience they need to reach their full potential.
Wichita Falls Independent School District in Texas faced a significant challenge. Nearly half of their students were entering kindergarten unprepared. Waterford.org partnered with the district to offer Waterford UPSTART directly to families in the community for kindergarten readiness at home and Waterford Early Learning in K-2 classrooms.
Waterford.org believes learning is intrinsically motivating, and it is accelerated when properly matched to an individual’s needs and interests.
In Utah’s rural Duchesne County, 8-year-old Sadie Cifuentes had completed her Waterford Early Learning courses and was ready to practice her reading skills more independently. Waterford.org provided Sadie with the independent reading platform, Curriculet, and her love of reading exploded! She was excited and self-motivated to read over the summer – her mother Bennie Cifuentes had to pull her away for chores and bedtime.
Waterford.org believes effective approaches for teaching and learning are best identified by research that is rigorous, iterative, and pragmatic.
In Utah’s Washington County School District, about half of the schools are Title I with students who faced significant achievement gaps and were unable to catch up with their peers. The district ran two early learning programs simultaneously to prepare their children for kindergarten. After a head-to-head comparison, the group of children who used Waterford.org software displayed greater gains in early literacy and were better prepared to enter kindergarten than students who did not use Waterford.
Waterford.org believes rapid advancements in technology will continue to increase the precision, adaptivity, and availability of high-quality learning programs, and these innovations offer hope that all individuals can receive excellence and equity in education.
Cherrise Parrish lived in a home without running water or electricity in rural and isolated Monument Valley, Utah, home to primarily Native American families. To overcome access challenges, Waterford.org provide the Parrish family and other families in their rural community with solar panels, satellite internet, and a Chromebook through the support of federal funding and the i3 grant so Cherrise could participate in Waterford UPSTART.
Waterford.org believes policymakers, philanthropists, and others who have the power to make proven, cost-effective educational solutions available to those in need have an urgent responsibility to do so.
In South Carolina, many families in rural and impoverished areas do not have access to PreK resources to properly prepare their children for kindergarten. After the success of a one-year Waterford UPSTART pilot funded by the i3 grant, South Carolina’s legislature continued the program, funding it for two more years.
Apiel Kuot and Suman Rai—refugees from South Sudan and Bhutan, respectively—tell their stories of how Waterford UPSTART prepared their children for school, as well as the support they received as they learned English and gained access to technology for the first time.
Meet Kingston and Kimberly Johnson, a family from West Philadelphia. Kingston and Kimberly are one of many families who, having no access to early education programs, benefited from philanthropic support and the Waterford UPSTART project, run by Waterford.org.
At-risk children suffer disproportionately when it comes to early education access. This means they are entering their first classroom 2-3 years behind their peers. Children from at-risk populations who graduate from Waterford UPSTART, ran by Waterford.org and supported by philanthropic donations, come to school ready to learn on day one and have been shown to maintain academic gains at least through the fourth grade. Help change the lives of our most at-risk children.
Andy was named President and Chief Executive Officer in 2021, after rejoined Waterford as Chief Operating Officer in June 2016—nearly 21 years after starting his career in education technology sales. After that first role, Andy filled several leadership positions in sales and marketing before becoming COO for Pearson’s digital learning business unit and later Senior VP of Digital Product Development for Pearson’s U.S. K-12 curriculum division. More recently, Andy served as CEO at Scientific Learning and as CSO at Renaissance. Andy holds an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley.
Claudia came to Waterford in 2007 with more than 25 years’ experience. She has developed, piloted, and scaled Waterford Upstart projects in Utah and more than a dozen states, with plans to serve more than 80,000 children by 2020. She is project director of the completed federal Investing in Innovation (i3) Validation grant and the current Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Expansion Grant. She was honored as a “Women Entrepreneurs Changing Education” by the Omidyar Network. Claudia received her PhD from Washington State University.
Lori joined Waterford.org in July 2019 as Chief People Officer after spending nearly eight years overseeing human resources for Deseret Digital Media and the Deseret News. She has over 20 years of professional experience not only in human resources, but administration, training, marketing, and legal—mostly in high tech industries. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Education from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Utah.
As CTO, Mike is responsible for Waterford’s product vision and software development. Mike has 15+ years of experience building products and analytic platforms in healthcare, politics, e-commerce, and education. His deep understanding of data and analytics has allowed him to repeatedly solve seemingly intractable problems. Mike holds a master’s in information systems from Boston University.
Kathy Landon brings 20 years of experience in leading diverse teams, finding creative solutions to perplexing problems, and structuring business systems and processes. Her passion for excellence and efficiency drive teams to deliver solutions that delight clients and customers. As head of our Program Management team, Kathy is responsible for ensuring Waterford.org is building and delivering the right things, the right way.
Senior Vice President of Curriculum and Instruction, Jenni Torres is a passionate curriculum designer and educator who manages the development of research-based content, correlations to standards, and creation of teacher and family resources. During her fifteen years in the classroom, Jenni was selected as a Fulbright Exchange Teacher for Uruguay and was awarded Teacher of the Year honors. Jenni earned her master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and her bachelor’s degree in international business and Spanish from the University of Maryland, College Park.
As a leader in educational technology over the last two decades, Edward “Benjamin” Heuston continues the legacy started by his father Dusty. Benjamin is an active speaker in educational settings and is also a member of several boards and associations, including the SIIA Education Board, the Society for Scientific Study of Reading, and the International Gold Key Honour Society, as well as a mentor for Utah Entrepreneurship Challenge. Benjamin earned a PhD in psychology from Brigham Young University.
Wayne Ysaguirre is a new member of the Waterford board of directors and the Executive Director of The Care Institute. Previously, he was the President and CEO of Nurtury, and prior to that, Wayne was a preschool teacher and director of numerous programs. He has dedicated more than 30 years to the care and education of young children and their families.
Waterford.org is seeking passionate individuals to become members of our Board of Trustees! In this role, your leadership would help us better serve our families, students, and partners as we work to meet our organizational goals around universal literacy, educational equity, and parent empowerment.
Board of Trustees Expansion:
Waterford.org is building out our Board of Trustees to help fuel our progress in this next chapter. We aim to add several strong board members who bring exceptional experience, networks, leadership, and passion in early childhood and/or K–12 education. We’re also looking for board members who add racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity.