Federal Grant Provides Wyoming Families a Free Early Education Option

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More families will be able to use the Waterford Upstart program at home this year

(Cheyenne, WY) June 22, 2021 — For the third year, Wyoming families can prepare their children for kindergarten at home, at no cost. Wyoming is one of five states without a state funded early education option, so the United States Department of Education awarded the nonprofit organization Waterford.org an Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Expansion Grant to see if Waterford Upstart could be a solution for Wyoming families.

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.

“We are excited to partner with education leaders across South Dakota for a third year to provide Waterford Upstart to the state’s earliest learners. During this unusual year, Waterford Upstart has proven to be not only effective in educating our youngest learners, but also a necessity for many families,” said Claudia Miner, Waterford Upstart executive director and cofounder. “With Waterford Upstart, Wyoming families gain the confidence of becoming their child’s first teacher, and they know their children will walk into their first day of kindergarten ready to learn.”

In the program’s first year, 200 Wyoming children from 39 different towns across 18 counties were given the opportunity to prepare for kindergarten at home using Waterford Upstart. The results were impressive: 92.3% of the children entered kindergarten at a “Kindergarten Intermediate” level—which is where most children score during the mid-point of their kindergarten year.

“Many families prosper in rural and remote areas where accessing quality early learning programs is difficult,” said Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Small communities may not offer early learning programs, low-income or otherwise, which causes inequity in education opportunities. Waterford Upstart addresses the equity issue by offering personalized, high-quality, parent-guided early education in the home. The Waterford Upstart program does not depend on a bureaucracy—it’s at the community level.”

Families who have children heading into kindergarten in 2022 can apply by going to www.waterfordupstart.org. Spots are limited.

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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