Not all children have access to the quality early education opportunities vital to set them on the path to success. At Waterford, we’re committed to changing that—one child at a time, wherever they are.
Our Waterford UPSTART program works to reach children at home, combining Waterford’s online, research-based curriculum with a robust parent support program to prepare children for kindergarten. Since its inception eight years ago, UPSTART has served nearly 30,000 preschool-age children in Utah and hundreds more across six other states. We recently celebrated the graduation of our first-ever Mississippi Waterford UPSTART class.
In Mississippi, Waterford partnered with Alpha Kappa Alpha, a historically black sorority committed to service and education, to run a Waterford UPSTART pilot program. More than 150 preschool-age children and their families from Jackson, Fayette, and Yazoo City received access to Waterford UPSTART at no cost to them. “We value early childhood education because we understand that education is fundamental to the success of students,” says Demetrice Williams of AKA. “In Mississippi, we have a lack of resources to fund PreK, so what we did is we chose to partner with UPSTART.”
Early test results from the Mississippi program are promising and parents give it rave reviews.
“As a parent, you always want to think you’re doing the best job, but you never really know, and you try to give it your all but the everyday routines are often a struggle,” Kanesha Bennett, a Mississippi UPSTART parent, says. “But to see how much my child has learned going into kindergarten, it gives you self confidence then because you’re like, “Ok, he won’t be behind the mark. He’s actually going to be ahead.””
“You’re going to walk into that kindergarten program proud, like “I have a scholar, not just a student, but a scholar.” So, kindergarten, here we come,” she adds.
Our team is working on getting funding to continue our work in Mississippi. Our goal is to see Waterford UPSTART reach more Mississippi students in the future, especially kids in rural areas where there may not be many options for early childhood education.
Learn more about the Mississippi UPSTART program in this video where you meet the Bennet, Lowe and Cooper families. See in their own words how Waterford UPSTART helped prepare their children for school.