Introducing “A First Chapter:” Stories of Promise, Growth & Inspiration through Early Education


Every child deserves success from the start. The educators and parents we work with every day deeply feel the urgency of this statement. And as their nonprofit partner, we hold it at the center or our efforts.

That’s why we’re so excited to share with you a new project we’re supporting: A First Chapter.

“A First Chapter”

A First Chapter shares stories of promise, growth and inspiration through early education. It celebrates the families, educators and communities that help plant the seeds of success. And most of all, seeks to show the importance of supporting young children. Because their first chapter is our next chapter.

The project launches today with our first video, a trailer introducing you to some of the families you’ll meet in the months ahead.

A First Chapter – Trailer

“Life is like planting a seed. You have to nourish it, water it, and have sunshine to let it grow.” Every child deserves an equal start. A First Chapter celebrates the families, educators and communities that help plant the seeds of success. Follow along for their stories of inspiration, growth and promise through early education. Because their first chapter is our next chapter. #afirstchapter

Posted by Waterford Institute on Thursday, October 26, 2017

We’ll start in Philadelphia and Mississippi, where we recently completed pilot classes of Waterford UPSTART, an at-home kindergarten readiness program that uses Waterford’s adaptive curriculum and parent support services to prepare children for school. From there, we hope to move to stories of families and educators across the country, highlighting those who are working to realize the promise of young children.

Some of the stories make us cry. Others make us laugh. And they all show people who are committed to giving children a better future through education.

How You Can Help

Follow along at or “like” Waterford on Facebook where we will share new stories each week. And leave us a comment; we’d love to hear what you think!

If you enjoy the stories and, like us, consider early education to be of urgent importance, please consider sharing the videos and images. Together, we can create awareness of how important it is to ensure every child has an equal shot at success from the very start.

Why Early Education Matters

Simply put, a child’s early years lay the foundation for his or her future.

A growing body of research clearly shows that children who participate in high quality, developmentally appropriate early education programs see short- and long-term benefit. These benefits include better health, social-emotional and cognitive outcomes—especially for economically disadvantaged children, dual language learners and others under-resourced for academic failure.

One longitudinal study shows high quality birth-to-five programs for disadvantaged children can deliver a 13.7 percent per child, per year return on investment. Researchers found the children benefited in terms of reduced crime, increased income, reduced special education costs and higher educational attainment. The program also had benefits for their mothers, who gained more education, work experience and higher wages.

Likewise, an independent study of Waterford UPSTART showed preschool-age children saw immediate gains in early literacy skills, and that those gains lasted beyond kindergarten with participants still outperforming state averages on standardized tests in grades first through fourth in language, arts, math and science.

With these foundations set, classroom experiences early in elementary school can serve as charging stations for sustaining and amplifying learning. While it is necessary to monitor how children are developing throughout every grade, early intervention is the best place to start improving every child’s chances for success and upward mobility.

Still, too many children lack access to these early education opportunities. For example, an estimated 46 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds still lack access to preschool in any form, public or private, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And access varies by geography, race and income.

We believe children from every economic class need access to early learning opportunities to develop the fundamental skills they need to be prepared for their future educational pursuits. And while the research is impressive and important, sometimes it takes a human story to show just how vital this cause is.

That’s what A First Chapter is all about: sharing those personal stories. So, come celebrate families, educators and communities—and most of all, young learners—with us.





Theresa Meggett: Life is like planting a seed. You have to nourish it, water it, and let sunshine [in] to let it grow.

Rhonda Flippen: That street gonna be there all day every day.

Crystal Cooper: There’s so much stereotyping here. I’m hoping that she doesn’t let that affect her.

Rhonda: I want them in these books. The books is the key. I want them to learn. I want them to be able to have someone put something in their hand, they can read it – understand it.

Yolanda Lowe: Once you understand what’s going on then no one can manipulate you. And because you able to think and learn for yourself.

Crystal: Reading give her the feel that she can do anything she want and excel.

Rhonda: I can read, but she say I read slow. I put that in my kids now like I want you all to be smarter than me.

Kimberly Johnson: I just can’t let him fall to the wayside. All I want him to do is stay in school and make me proud.

Theresa: Education is important. There’s so much in life we can be and do. Anything is achievable if you love it.


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