Education Nonprofit Vows to Help Every Utah 4-Year-Old Prepare for School

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To ensure every child enters kindergarten ready, Utah nonprofit Waterford.org has committed to provide Waterford Upstart to any eligible family that applies

(Salt Lake City, UT) June 29, 2021 — As we head into the summer, the number of COVID-19 cases is falling; however, what will happen this fall is still unknown. That’s why education nonprofit Waterford.org is pledging that any eligible Utah family who wants the at-home, early education program Waterford Upstart will get it this year. The program has been helping Utah families prepare their children for kindergarten at home for 12 years, and thanks to state funding, it costs nothing.

“We’re grateful for our decade-long partnership with the state of Utah and the USBE,” said Andy Myers, CEO of Waterford.org. “We want to make sure every Utah 4-year-old has a successful academic career, and that starts with being kindergarten ready. No matter the family’s location or socioeconomic background, Waterford Upstart can be used in the home to prepare that child for success.”

Waterford Upstart is an in-home, early education program that prepares 4-year-old children for kindergarten. Families are given the tools they need to be their child’s first and most influential teachers, including a computer and internet at no cost. The program provides positive parent-child interactions while delivering personalized, online instruction that is fun and engaging for 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Families are also given a family coach and tips to continue engaging their children offline. On average, 92% of children who participate in Waterford Upstart are ready for kindergarten—compared to a 65% average nationwide and 48% for low-income children.

“This Utah-created, early education solution is proving successful at reaching 4-year-olds all across Utah, regardless of where they live or their economic background, and getting them ready for school,” said Senate President Stuart Adams. “In 2009, the Utah Legislature saw a need for an early education option for those families who didn’t otherwise have access to PreK. Because of the success of the Waterford Upstart program, we’ve expanded access to even more children. Whether they are in PreK, at home with mom or in daycare, they can use the program at home with their parents to get a cognitive boost.”

Waterford Upstart, which started by serving just 1,600 Utah children, will now serve any 4-year-old in the state. Waterford Upstart has been validated by eight years of rigorous external evaluations in Utah, and a third-party randomized-controlled trial (RCT) shows strong evidence of effectiveness. Not only that, but children’s learning gains are shown to last over time. A longitudinal study conducted in 2016 by the Utah State Board of Education shows Waterford Upstart children outperform their peers on state standardized tests in literacy skills all the way through the fourth grade. These gains were consistent across all subgroups, including special education (SPED), low-income, and English Language Learner (ELL) populations.
Families who have children entering kindergarten in 2022 can apply by going to www.waterfordupstart.org.

Waterford.org

Waterford.org is an early education nonprofit with a mission to achieve universal literacy for children through equity, access, and parent empowerment. Waterford develops educational tools that guide students along adaptive, individualized learning paths toward fluent reading and lifelong learning. We empower parents as a child’s first teacher, and we support teachers in taking the right actions at the right time for their students. In total, Waterford.org serves more than 300,000 children every year through all of our programs, and that number is continually growing.

Waterford Upstart

Waterford Upstart helps four-year-old children prepare for school at home and at no cost. Children develop foundational reading and social-emotional skills, and families are empowered to become their child’s first and most influential teachers. The children use adaptive software just 15 minutes a day, five days a week in the year before they start school. Waterford Upstart also fuels family involvement in their child’s early education through family coaches and fun educational activities parents can complete with their children offline. Waterford Upstart has been rigorously tested and proven, earning the program a federal EIR grant and the title of a TED Audacious project. Independent research shows the average Waterford Upstart graduate enters kindergarten reading at nearly a first-grade level and maintains those gains through the fourth grade.

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