Waterford’s Commitment to Improving the Lives of Utah’s Refugee Community



“We Positively Transform the Lives of Our Employees and of the Educators, Learners, and Families We Serve.”


At Waterford.org, we are committed to helping every child achieve success from the start. One of the groups that benefits most from the Waterford UPSTART program is the refugee community.

This video highlights one refugee family from Bhutan and one from South Sudan, discussing their experiences using Waterford UPSTART’s kindergarten readiness program. For many families, the English language skills gained from Waterford UPSTART extend beyond the individual child and can help an entire family assimilate their lives in the United States.

When entering the program, many children don’t have previous experience using a computer and many have very limited math and reading skills. Waterford UPSTART works with these children to improve their digital literacy while helping them learn the general knowledge needed to succeed in kindergarten.



Claudia Jimenez (Refugee Supervisor and Pilot Team Lead, Waterford): I grew up in Mexico. I was born in Stockton, California and raised in Mexico. I was looking for a program a reading program for my second grader and I found Waterford and I went to a training. It was a parent training that I just fell in love of the mission and I would like to be part of this wonderful program. I went and asked them if they were hiring. And that’s how everything started. The refugee work I do, it’s I want to say the most rewarding I have so far.

Apiel Kuot (Waterford UPSTART Parent): it’s not easy to come in a new country from where I came. I came from Kenya but originally I’m from South Sudan.

CJ: The language was a big barrier for me, had to translate everything so I can relate to these families.

Suman Rai (Waterford UPSTART Parent): Originally we are from Bhutan. And because of political situations, that our family were forced to leave Bhutan.

CJ: There’s so many things going on into their countries, so when they come here they felt, they don’t feel secure. They don’t feel safe. They don’t feel at home. Their priority is to be safe to make sure that their family’s safe, that they have food to eat. So education, even though we know it’s important, they forget how important it is. So that’s why you’re there, to give them that support, to show them how important it is and why and how it’s done.

Sean Carter (Refugee Coordinator and Pilot Representative, Waterford): They come from a different background, a lot of them have never seen a computer before.

SR: Before she was not knowing knowledge of that technology. What is the mouse, what is cultural, what is the [indistinguishable]. How to use that, all of those things.

CJ: How to turn on the computer. How to open a computer. How to do step by step, letter by letter, pushing every key of that keyboard.

SC: Just typing in the password to get into the computer is quite the feat.

AK: If you call any questions in the computer, sometimes my password blocked me not to go in. We make a connection through phone and they show me, do this in your computer, the baby computer, and do this. That just makes me like, that they care for my kids and they care for me.

CJ: You’re really experiencing with these families and that is, 99 percent of the time that you have to be patient and give them a nice face, a great smile, and have them know that you are there for them.

AK: The first thing she do, the old kids were given a paper to write their name. She’s the only, she’s the only lady that I’m so, so, so happy to get a report that she’s the only one in the class that could write her names. “Is that true?” She said, “mom, I did it mom!”

SR: Shipora wrote her letters, and words, and sentences, and she can read.

CJ: Waterford has opened up doors and opportunities.

SC: I don’t know how without a program like this they would be able to be prepared for kindergarten.

CJ: It is very powerful to see their progress not just for the kids but also for the parents, the whole family itself. Being able to communicate better.

SC: I have a lot of the families where I see the parents start learning English through the program as well.

SR: Some of the words that I don’t know. So when she speaks, I used to ask her in Nepali, “what does this mean?” Then she’s to teach me, “Papa, this means like this, this means this.”

CJ: You are amazed whenever you see, even the parent at the end of the program, be an expert at turning on the computer, logging into the software. Seeing the preschool child be prepared for kindergarten, being fluent in reading because of the program.

SR: Her reading is quite good, I really appreciate her. She speaks better than me. Really.

CJ: It’s also having the patience and the love to be able to help them.

AK: What I love in this company is like the way they care for kids. I really love that.

CJ: You think as Waterford UPSTART itself as just a preschool program and that it’s only helping children prepare for kindergarten. For my people, for my refugee community, I feel like it’s a lifetime changing for the whole family.

AK: That is my goal that like my daughter has a step forward through Waterford’s UPSTART program.

CJ: For me that was like worth it. All the hard work you can say that it’s paid off

AK: The Waterford UPSTART made my goals that I was expecting for my daughter.

SR: If I have another child, really, definitely I’ll sign up for this UPSTART program.

CJ: I definitely think that UPSTART is not a software, it is definitely hope for families.

AK: I’m really proud of this company.


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